"Been there, done that" also affords me the knowledge of the tremendous love, giggles, pride and giddiness that accompany the stork's gift. The ever-growing, constantly changing and consistently amazing aspects of your child, blind you to all the un-ending worries, choices and routines.
I also feel there are some nuggets of wisdom I have under my belt, that I wish I could have told my old self prior to baby's arrival; which I will impart here for (hopefully) some lost new mommy to gleen some info from.
- Everything you say can and WILL be used against you (and most likely in a public setting). Some of your repitions might be cute, like the time my daughter told our barking dog to "Drop the attitude", or some frustrating like, "Why do I always have to do everything??" (on being asked to brush her teeth), to the downright rude "Oh shit!" (on dropping a fork on the floor). So be careful what you say, 24/7!!
- Document everything! You might think we you will never forget the cute nuances of baby hood, but unfortunately (and sometimes fortunately) you do. You grow with your child as he/she develops so there are new games, new milestones and chores to look forward to. In an already over-occupied, mushy mommy brain, this doesn't leave much room in the memory department, so snap away and write it down somewhere. I have a book by my bed where I write funny quotes and dreams my daughter has, and then I have a box for each year which I fill with receipts, notes, photos, certificates, cards, tickets etc. I just keep stashing them in there and then put the quotes in there too and cds with photos. At the end of the year I am supposed to organize the items into an album, but I have 3 years thus far, and not one album BUT all the items are there to look through and remember when I finally do have the time.
- Sleep is the reset button. From the beginning, everyone tells you to sleep when your baby sleeps. This is very true because the biggest cause of post-partum depression and fighting with your spouse is lack of sleep. With more rest under your belt you are better equipped to face the challenges of parenting. I think sleep is a cure-all, and as someone who battles to get it, I hold it in the highest regards. Sleep will forevermore take precedence over almost anything: sex, shopping, socializing. Furthermore, after a particuarly difficult day, watching your sleeping child resets your over-whelming love for them, and even if they were being little terrors until the moment their heads touched the pillow, suddenly they are angels from God in your eyes once more. It's a great reminder of what it's all for.
- You will most likely be consumed with guilt for the rest of your life. The mommy wars aren't just about moms arguing over breastfeeding vs. bottle and working vs. stay at home, they are often against yourself. You will feel guilt for so many things: too much TV, not enough photos, not getting vaccines, getting vaccines, too much sugar, not enough intellectual stimulation for your child, not enough toys, too many toys, not enough time, too few activities scheduled, losing your temper, spanking, not spanking... just a few of the constant barrage on your sensibilities and ego. Everyday there are seemingly 700 choices to be made, and be made by you, and you may never feel you make the right ones. But when you are feeling overwhelmed, just recall your own childhood and know that your parents went through the same thing, and you turned out okay (hopefully). Or know that you are at least making better choices than them:). But most important, know that just the fact that you are worrying about MAKING the right choice, makes you a good parent, who put the well-being of your child first.
Love and child-rearing,
Kerry, the Momster