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.