5 Pieces of Advice and Highlights about Motherhood
Motherhood Advice: How To Filter Out The Well-Intentioned Crap and Take Care Of You As Both A Mom & Person
With all the advice out there around being a mom … how does one know what to take and what to dismiss? And how does this all play into taking care of ourselves in the mix? In general, sometimes we ask for advice and other times, well-intentioned people just give it. And in all honesty, most of the time I have received the ooey-gooey, mushy-gushy advice that is just crap! So … I decided to share my piece here in hopes that some, any, or even all sticks or resonates with you.
Here are the top 5 pieces of advice that I, and am sure others would agree and disagree with, have been given, especially in the early stages of motherhood, and why I think that for the most part it is, CRAP! Yes … I said it … CRAP! That does not mean it comes from a bad place … Just that it was not really helpful in the grand scheme of allowing a mom some room to mess up, get dirty, and figure it all out.
Most of the crap advice I reference here pertains to those early stages. The reason being is that I found that is when most of the advice is thrown around. Everyone has their ideas of how to do those early years. Plus … there are so many books out there that focus on pregnancy through age 3-4. After that … well … the advice is there and that makes for another fun post!
And because I do not want to leave you with just the negative side of things, I feel it is also important to leave you with a top 5 highlights of the things that matter on this journey of motherhood. And notice I did not say advice. Take from it what you want or leave it all. But really, there is room for it all!
So, get ready … because here comes the list of …. CRAP!
ADVICE #1: Sleep when the baby sleeps.
Right! Sure! Let me get right on that! Are you sure that is even possible?
Have you met my child? Wait … how about any child? When they are babies they sleep for like brief moments at a time and surely not long enough for me to close my eyes and get a real true nap. And when they get older … sh*t … they develop even stranger schedules. They fight sleep, then they sleep, then they need to go to the bathroom at like 2 am and get water at 3 am … you know kid, that may be why you have to pee in the middle of the night?? Maybe no more drinks in the middle of the night!
Oh, and did I mention …. When they do finally fall asleep, it is always in the places that make it physically impossible for me, as a mother, as a parent or even person, to go to sleep. Yeah … that’s right, physically impossible. They fall asleep on car rides. Probably won’t go very well if I fell asleep while driving! They fall asleep when we are out on walks. Great … just another place for us to all go to sleep … out on a walk … can you see the problems with that. They fall asleep in your arms. Really … have you really ever tried to put a sleeping baby down from arms to crib or bassinet. It is like the little signal that says … WAKE THE F*** UP!!! And don’t get me started on going to sleep sitting up or co-sleeping. It may totally be your thing (and that is totally up to you) but don’t let anyone else know that or they will crucify you!
So then when they do finally sleep … I am just supposed to go lay down??!!? Have you seen my house? My kitchen? The fact that I have yet to take a shower today … or maybe in days?? Eaten a meal with 2 hands? Took a second to think or read anything or really do anything? Yeah … I think that there might be some things I want to do while the baby sleeps so that you know …. people will want to come around.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think this advice, while good intentioned, is CRAP. Yup … CRAP! Yes … in the middle of the night, sleep when the baby sleeps … if the baby sleeps. But really, sleep when it is safe and you actually can. Sleep is absolutely important but so are some other things. Because when you decided to be a mom, you did not say that you were going to give up on caring about your life as well.
ADVICE #2: Enjoy every moment
Oh, now that is just CRAP! What mushy guru started this! Yes … motherhood should be enjoyed but really … who likes to have poop or pee or vomit all over them. NOBODY!!! Yes … let’s just sit back and enjoy the moment when you can’t figure out why they are crying or what is really going on with your teenager. Or that tantrum in the middle of the grocery store with all those strangers looking …. And judging. Yes …. I so want to enjoy that! I want to stand back and say “isn’t this just wonderful”. NO!! It’s horrible! It hits at the core of all being.
So, enjoy every moment… says no one ever! This sh*t is hard! Parenting is hard work. It is exhausting, it is impossible at times, it is outright down and dirty a lot of the time.
Do you enjoy every single moment of every single day at your job?? No … it is just not possible. You are not all smiles, roses, and sunshine at every second of every day of every moment. So why should that have to change because now you are a mother? And guess what …. Being a mother doesn’t just stop when those little babes turn into adults. There are more moments that happen and they suck too! And you know what?? Sh*t happens … literally and figuratively!
So here again …. another well intentioned piece of advice. But again … It is just CRAP! Because we are not hardwired to enjoy every single moment. Sometimes things suck and it is ok to say it and feel it! It is ok to not like it. It is ok to realize that this was way harder than you expected and sometimes you just want to quit and you can’t!
ADVICE #3: Let them cry it out (whether it be sleep or whatever)
Ugh! This was the one that got me every time. NO … I WILL NOT LET THEM CRY IT OUT! Maybe when they are like …. An adult … but even still. It is my child. Nothing good has ever come with letting them cry it out. I have heard some really ugly stories and some really funny ones with cry-it-out. And in all honesty, I did try it. Yes … really, I did! It was advice given to me by several people … professionals, family, and close friends. I trusted it and it did not work! And it is not for lack of effort but my heart broke. I cried … I cried even more than they were. Yes … sometimes crying it out is necessary but maybe for like 30-45 seconds. After that …. Go to them, comfort them, love them! Do you really like to cry alone? I don’t! I want some comfort when I cry. I want someone to understand or even just be there. We are just human and in need of human connection on several levels.
ADVICE #4: You really should “make your own baby food”, “cloth diaper”, “only breastfeed for like eternity”, etc.
People …. Do you not have a life??!!? No really … I am asking in all sincerity. I get it … environmentally friendly, it is the best thing for a child, …. blah blah blah! But seriously … didn’t we just establish that I have not showered in days, cleaned my house or my kitchen … how the hell am I supposed to do any of that.
What if there is a medical reason for a bottle, disposable diapers, etc.?? Did you well-intentioned people think of that. Or what if I tried to do those things and it just did not work for me and my babe?? And this mom …. Yes me …. Did try all these things or actually had very good intentions of doing or trying. But it did not work. One babe was in the NICU and every little thing had to be weighed, measured, calculated … the list goes on. Then on babe number 2, my body just wouldn’t do what I wanted it to naturally do. So instead of beating myself up … I embraced the journey and allowed room to do what I needed as a mom and person.
So again this piece … CRAP! Maybe it works for them but that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. It is nice to really want to do those amazing things but really …. If I am supposed to sleep when the baby sleeps and do all these things …. Does it make sense that this is not humanly possible to do it all.
ADVICE #5: Don’t let your kids do …. (you fill in the blank … watch too much TV, play videogames, etc.)
Great! Please come over and parent my child for me. You tell them that they need to sit quietly while I shower or make dinner or go to the bathroom. Look …. I get there are some safety things but really, sometimes you have to do what you need to do. But shhhh, quiet…. Don’t tell anyone because there will be another round of crucifixion coming your way. Experience with sharing with others lead me to someone going on a whole rant about brain development and something when I shared that my 1-year old loved Backyardigans. But seriously …. I am sure there is some real science behind the brain development (actually there is and I am not saying that is undeniable) but in reality, life happens. So …. CRAP! Life happens! We are all human! My kids watched TV, played videogames … basically did things that someone on this journey would say that I ruined their ever-developing brains.
There is the crap list in my opinion and why. Take what you want from it. It is not set in stone. You may think that those are great pieces of advice and that is GREAT! These are just things that through my own years of parenting, friends and colleagues’ parenting, and working in a public-school system that I have seen, heard, experienced, etc. It comes from a well-intentioned place and many times we attempt to take it, only to be met with disappointment.
Then … what do we do with it?? We make a new list! Because being a mom doesn’t mean that you stop existing as a person. Trust me … no robot, alien, etc. is showing up. You have to do parenting your way. So here is what I hope you really take away from this …. Really it is the advice that should be given out before leaving the hospital with a baby. And guess what …. Most of it has nothing to do with your child and everything to do with YOU!!
HIGHLIGHT #1: Be ok with losing you shit!
Guess what?? You are human … I know … crazy right! You have feelings … all of them … even the shitty ones. And being a parent is just plain old tough work. You are going to get dirty. You are going to get messy. And you are going to lose you shit. Now I don’t mean … you get all physical or anything …. But that place where you yell too loud or cry in the bathroom or whatever it may be. There are so many books out there about parenting but really there is no manual. There is no actual right way to do it. You gotta live it!
So, I want you to be ok with the fact that sometimes you lose your shit. Please don’t mistake me on this … losing your shit does not in any way put you, your child, or your family in danger and hurt them in any way. It’s those moments that you want to quit. Maybe you even say it? Maybe you say you are going to change your name. Maybe you yell a little too loud. Maybe you cry. But never any concern for safety or danger.
And if you have a really good support system around you …. Your tribe …. Then they will get it and be there for you. That is just the best! They are through every single stage of it. Because guess what??? At some point they lost their shit too and needed you to help pick them up.
HIGHLIGHT #2: Make time for you to do the things that make you feel good
Oh yeah …. This is a biggie! Guess what?? When you became a mom, it did not mean you have to give YOU up. Really … its true! Because we have already established there is no hard-final manual on parenting and this shit is really tough …. It is all the more important to do the things that you really love and enjoy. Like to get mani-pedis? Go ahead and schedule it! Like to go to yoga, for a run, or other forms of exercise? Yup … that too! Go do it! Like to sit and read? Oh yeah! Go read that book that you want. Eat the candy bar in the bathroom with the locked door? Yup!
Now I am not suggesting you just bag the whole parenting thing because well …. That is just not realistic or even safe. But what I am saying is that do continue to make time for you to do the things that make you feel good. Feel whole. Feed your soul! Because …. You are stuck with you forever. And really …. You will be a better mom for it because you are energized and feeling good about you.
HIGHLIGHT #3: Be Kind and Patient with YOU
There are some many slip ups, mistakes, missteps, losing it moments in the game of parenting. And don’t worry … there will be plenty of people out there who are ready to jump in and criticize or give you the well-meaning advice around it. At the end of the day, you have to just be kind and patient with yourself. Give yourself some grace! Give yourself some room to make mistakes and grow! Give yourself a BREAK!!! No one else is going to do it.
HIGHLIGHT #4: Ask for Help
This is a biggie! Really it is. And I say it with all truth and honesty … I am the worst at it! Yup! Sometimes for us to be the best … we need a little help. You don’t have to do anything alone. It may just be asking a close friend or family member to babysit so you can go do something to take care of yourself. Or it may be having someone come over just to chat. Really … asking for help can come in any form you want it to be! The biggest thing is that you know who your tribe is and who you can ask for help from. In general, most of the people closest want to help us but just do not know how. Really! They want to support us but don’t want to step on our toes or over step the boundaries. Asking for help can be really clear …. “Would it be possible for you to come over for coffee and to talk?” That is saying you need to talk. Nothing more. Ask for it. Accept it. Do it A LOT!!!
HIGHILIGHT #5: At the end of it all …. DO WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU!!!
So really … how do you take care of you in this journey of motherhood???
You do what is best for you! Lots of advice will be given. You get to do with it what you want. Lots of suggestions will be made. Again, do with it what you want. At the end of the day, you are going to do what is best for you so that you can be the best mother possible!
So yes, you can take 5 extra minutes in the shower. Sneak into the bathroom for an extra-long pee break? Go for it.
So … cut yourself some slack. Take it all in. Enjoy the ride. Because really … motherhood is amazing! Really truly! And when you allow yourself to take you into consideration …. It gets even better!
Until next time …. Use grace, love, and kindness on yourself in order to ….
Take Care, Kristin