I was changing the wash over to the dryer this afternoon, and thinking about my two new mama-sisters. I thought about the things I should make sure to say to them, things that made a difference for me as I found myself suddenly up to my eyeballs in mothering. (Because there’s no “I’ll just get my feet wet” approach, is there? As much as people try to say, “I’ll start with a house plant, then work up to a cat, then a dog, and then maybe…” well, it’s just not the same. It’s always a sudden plunge into the deep end of the pool.)
So I’m going to say those things, but I’m going to say them here. It’s been awhile since I wrote much about mothering in general (as opposed to the very specific interactions I have with my three treasures), and perhaps there are other new mamas who would like to hear this, too. (And maybe not-new mamas? We all need refreshers along the way.)
In no particular order:
Food to eat and clean clothes to wear: this is your new to-do list. These are the things that truly matter, so save your energy for these. And we’re simply going for clean and healthy — NOT fancy.
You know how “clean the living room” always meant a deep-clean? Well, for the next little bit, “cleaning” can mean vacuuming and a quick dust of the high-traffic areas. Ignore the rest. (I didn’t really understand the importance of Spring Cleaning until I had Jameson. Turns out I had been spring cleaning every week, but that doesn’t work so well with a baby in tow.)
Mama always said she gave herself 6 months before she expected to really be into any sort of “new normal” routine. Well, maybe you’ll be amazing like Mama, or more not-super-hero like me: I give myself 9 months. Okay. Maybe 12. At any rate, NOT a few weeks, like I sort of expected.
I also give myself 9 months to naturally regain a pre-baby weight. Nine months to get there, nine months to get back. (When I get to 9 months and still have an extra 10 pounds, I start to actually cut out cake for breakfast. Ha!)
Read Nancy Campbell. NOT parenting articles by popular gurus. And maybe that’s a little radical, because certainly there is plenty of good advice and some decent ideas out there, but mostly not. And mostly stemming from a carnal impulse, rather than a God-seeking one. Nancy is the real deal.
This counts. These months of what seem like small things that make you just cry and cry? These are genuine sacrifices. This is genuine seed-sowing. The house not being quite to your standard? You’re laying it down for the least of these. Letting other things go and reaffirming that this baby, this husband, these people are more important? Legit.
If you’re feeling frustrated by your baby’s demands because you can’t keep up with life’s demands, cancel life. I’m not encouraging flakiness, but on the other hand, don’t feel bad about having to call and cancel because the baby needs you. (And maybe, just maybe, the person on the other end of the phone needs to know that someone out there values their baby. Maybe it’s another mother, and you just gave her permission to cancel, too.)
It’s true that a little bit of crying won’t kill your baby. But neither will holding your baby. Follow your instincts. And if the crying is killing you, well, that matters.
Recognize what a big transition this is. Don’t make yourself feel badly with “But I only have one and she has ten…” NO. This is a challenge. Own it, and get grace for it. Your life just changed radically, and Jesus wants to meet you in it.
Nurse your baby. That simple action miraculously cures so many ills—hunger being only the most obvious—for baby and for you.
Love that baby, cherish that baby, and remember that whatever you do unto the least of these, you’re doing unto Him. He deserves your very best.
…and know that He gently leads those with young: His is a throne of grace for every mothering need.
Wishing I had had someone to impart similar wisdom to me 24 years ago. I spent too much time and energy worrying about things that in the end were not very important at all. Good stuff!!
Good stuff. Thanks (again)!
Yes! Great points! The grace of God leads us through our days, and we are SO very blessed to experience the depth of love that comes from sharing our lives with the little people we co-create with God. Thank you for sharing!
Can I add? Baby carriers are wonderful things. Slings, wraps, Ergos. They help when baby needs to be held and dinner needs to be made. Carriers came in more handy with second and third babies, although Kate took quite a few naps in her sling as a baby.
Having a good book to read while nursing is nice. Something you look forward to reading while you nurse.
Easy dinners become important. After James I made Bisquick meals for months… They were one dish dinners that I could handle.Hubby and children never care if we have a side or a vegetable or bread, but I DO, and it was hard to let that go a little. Frozen veggies counted just as much as oven-roasted carrots.
And, HURRAY for all these babies! I love it. It’s exciting and fun to be sisters and Mamas together. Glad you all get to share that experience.
This is great – thanks for sharing…especially in such a simple manner :)
I am in my hospital bed about up take a nap since I was up almost all night with my 6 day old baby. These words have ministered so much to my weary soul, Danica. Thank you.
These are fabulous! I would also add to remember that “everything is a stage”. Nothing (crying, teething, colic, etc) lasts forever, even though it may seem that way. This always helped me to take a deep breath and remember that in a few weeks, whatever was stressing me out would be replaced by something new and would be a distant memory.
My “babies” are 20, 17, 15, and 13 now. All of you young mommies remember that the days are long but the years are short. Cherish every sweet moment! They go by so quickly.
And eat your placenta. ;-)
i just love this!
Yes, ok, and I will listen to all of it.
OH! and thank you.
I love you Danica, I am so happy Sarah has you to talk to and ask questions of.