When you think about Mother’s Day, what are the first thoughts that come to your mind? My goal for penning a special blog for Mother’s Day is, of course, to show gratitude and appreciation to the mothers in our lives and to all of you who are celebrating Mother’s Day. At the same time, I’m asking that we also show love and compassion to those people who for one reason or another are not able to celebrate with their mothers or who long to be a mother.
With that in mind, I think that Mother’s Day is an incredible opportunity to think about our mothers and be grateful for the positive things they taught us. We can also be grateful for the less positive things that have taught us various life skills, such as resiliency and perhaps even things that have provided us with an opportunity to learn what it is that we do not want to repeat with our own children.
When I was a teenager and going through my own challenges, my mother used to tell me that I wouldn’t be able to understand what she was going through until I was a mom.
I will never forget the few seconds after giving birth to my first daughter when the doctor gently placed her on my chest. I remember realizing that this sweet, little, precious child was mine and my life would never be the same. It was a very special moment and at the same time very scary.
Now, 17 years later I am wondering how almost everything these days comes with a manual, but not parenting. We, as mothers, do not get any instructions for our children. How do you think you'd be as a mom if you were able to get a book with very simple instructions and maybe some suggestions that could help and guide you through motherhood? This concept might sound groundbreaking and maybe crazy to some of you, but I think that most of us would appreciate having a manual that could help us and empower us to become a better version of ourselves so that we could be a better mother for our children.
The truth is, a manual will never exist, but I do think sharing from our experiences can help others. So, in honor of Mother's Day, here are five things I wish I knew prior to becoming a mom.
1. You are doing the best you can with what you know.
There isn’t a right or wrong way to be a mom. Prior to my first daughter's birth, I read so many different books about parenting and ways to help with the baby and I listened to so many people and was offered so much advice. At the end of the day, although it was a wonderful and enriching experience to read and learn about so many different ways to parent and raise a child, I think that we must be realistic and realize that there isn’t a wrong or right way. The most important thing is to find your own way that works best for you, regarding sleeping, feeding, education, and everything else.
This example might be outdated, but when I had my daughter, Baby Einstein was all the rage. I remember reading so many different articles that said that classical music is extremely beneficial for brain development so, of course, I bought all the CDs and made sure classical music was playing throughout the day. Later on, several different studies were released that stated that too much stimulation is not beneficial for babies. My point in saying this is that there isn't ONE way to parent. Information is constantly changing and the best thing to do is find your own special way and make sure that you are comfortable with whatever it is. Most importantly, make sure that you are attuned with your child and that whatever it is you’re doing is right for you, your child, and your family.
2. Reflect on your relationship with your mother.
Is there anything that you can think of that you are doing in your relationship with your child that you can relate to your relationship with your mom? Is this something that you liked and appreciated as a child? If not, I would encourage you to think about it and perhaps take action to change whatever it is you’re doing.
This can be challenging, but it's very important because if you can think about your relationship with your mom and what you liked and what you liked less about it, you might gain important insight into ways you can improve your own relationship with your children. Let’s take for example my mother, who I love dearly. To her, getting married and having kids was of the utmost importance, so she never encouraged me to pursue my education or have goals as I was growing up beyond becoming a mother. Therefore, this is something that is extremely important to me and I encourage my kids to do whatever it is they are passionate about and not allow anything to stop them from pursuing their dreams.
3. Invest in your relationship with your partner.
For me, being a mother was something that I wanted and dreamed of since I can remember, and having my first daughter and then second and third consumed my life. I invested most of my time and energy in raising my girls and becoming a better version of myself as a human being and as a mother. However, even prior to becoming a mother, I wish I worked more on issues in my relationship that required more love and attention. Of course, it is easier to say that now, as my girls are 17, 14, and 11, but this is a very important piece of advice that I wish I had gotten. I hope for those of you who are considering having a child or perhaps just had a baby to remember to invest in your relationship with your partner. It can be as simple as a making time for date nights or scheduling a specific time to do different activities and maybe even sex...
I will even go further and suggest that prior to having a baby you go to a couple's therapist and try to identify red flags in your relationships that are worthy of investing the time and energy to work on so that when you have a child these issues will not get worse and become a bigger deal.
4. Break the black magic spell and make it white magic!
In the book The Four Agreements, which I think everyone must read, the author describes the most important "agreement" that people learn that affects so much of their life. As parents, we have a huge responsibility to reflect on what it is that we are projecting to others especially young children. Let’s take, for example, a situation where your child is singing a song and having a wonderful time. Let’s also assume that you are having a bad moment and feeling terrible about something completely different and when you look at your child singing you say the following, "Stop singing with that annoying voice...” or maybe, “This is too loud please go to your room." At that moment your child is getting the message that something about his or her behavior is negative and therefore making an agreement with themself that this shouldn’t happen again because they got a negative message. All this is to say that, as parents, we have a lot of power. While it is clearly very challenging to have control over what we say, it is crucial that we pay attention to our words because they may have a much bigger impact on our children than we think.
5. Trust your own intuition and listen to yourself.
If you are a new mom you have probably encountered many situations in which people told you what you are doing is right or wrong. The unsolicited advice for new parents can be extreme. Sleeping is a big one: do you let your child cry it out? I think that as mothers it is extremely important that we listen to our own intuition and not what others say on a subject like this. Stay very tuned in with your children to make sure that whatever it is you are doing works for YOU. I wish I had paid more attention to my own intuition and was more connected with my children instead of busying myself reading books and listening to other people who were considered experts in the field.
Finally, I hope that you found this helpful and I wish you a very happy Mother’s Day!