Five Things I’d Tell Myself as a New Mom

1. A good mom makes sacrifices, but doesn’t sacrifice herself.

When Violet was born they thought she had a condition called LQTS. Between worrying about her and a bout of postpartum depression, I should have been taking an antidepressant. But I was breastfeeding and none of the medications I could take to treat my depression were considered LQTS-safe. I wanted to be a “good mom” so I kept breastfeeding and tried to put on a brave face. It didn’t work. I can’t look back at that time without wishing I had done it differently. My life was beautiful and I had never been more miserable. After four months, I switched Violet to formula and started taking Lexapro. I wish I would have realized that good moms don’t always do what “good moms” are supposed to do, but they do what is best for themselves AND their family. A burnt out mom isn’t good for anyone.

2. The days are long, the years are short.

One day when I was complaining about how hard it al was one of my best friends told me to listen to You’re Gonna Miss This by Trace Adkins so I did. And I rolled my eyes. I wasn’t going to miss being sleep deprived or lugging a baby into my daughter’s once a week playgroup. I wasn’t going to miss toys all over the floor and diapers and spit up and drool covered shirts.

And in truth, I don’t miss being sleep deprived. Or trying to contain a toddler while breastfeeding a baby. I don’t miss messy diapers. Or having my shirt covered in baby goop. But I do miss the 3am feedings where the house was completely still except for the suck and sigh of a bitty baby. I do miss the smell of a freshly bathed, sleepy headed little being rocked to sleep. I do look at my almost seven and five year old and wonder how so much time has gone by so quickly and I wish I would have slowed down a little and enjoyed it more.

3. Know how to say no.

The year I had Abram I also served on the board of a volunteer organization, helped organize a fundraiser for a local non-profit, and co-chaired a committee for an event with over 300 attendees. I don’t remember a whole lot from that year but at the end of it my husband sat me down and made it very clear I needed to make my family the priority. He was right. I think of how much more I would have enjoyed my family if I wasn’t rushing off to this meeting, or trying to type up that email, and I wish I would have known how to say no.

4. Know when to say yes.

As a parent, my first reaction is too often to say no. Wearing pajamas to preschool, getting out the paints and making a mess, going to the park. Is it really a big deal if Abram has swimsuit shorts under his pants instead of underwear? Will the world come to an end if Violet’s hair isn’t pulled back perfectly? Being able to take a step back and pick battles is important and it’s a lesson I still struggle to remember. I wish there was just a way to permanently etch the “If you can say yes, say yes” mentality into my brain.

5. Chill out already.

I’m too hard on my kids. And then too hard on myself for being too hard on my kids. And then I’m annoyed with myself, so I’m snappy and hard on my kids and the cycle just continues. Sometimes, all I need to do is just take a breath, realize that kids are kids, and enjoy their stories and thoughts and games. I’m an imperfect person raising imperfect people and that’s okay. That’s how the world has worked for thousands of years and mankind is still here. Imperfect and beautiful just like my children.

What advice would you give yourself as a new mom? What are somethings you wish you had known?

Happy Mother’s Day.

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