9 years and nearly five kids into this motherhood gig...I can say I've learned a thing or two. I am NOT even close to being an expert. I still have NO idea what I'm doing. To be honest I'm making it up day to day, moment to moment.
Today I want to tell you what motherhood has taught me. These things might not work for you. But these are the truths that I've accepted. And some of them have been a bitter pill to swallow. Here we go. :)
1. If someone asks you "Is this chocolate?" don't smell what they are showing you. Because it is never chocolate.
2. Don't pray for patience. God will give you patience but will then test the heck out of you. Pray for grace or kindness. Or just pray that you won't lose your ever-loving mind.
3. Try not to be a sanctimommy. Don't judge baby leashes or moms who are letting their kids eat straight out of a box of (non organic!) cereal in the grocery store. One day it will be you and you will wish you could go back and punch your judgmental self in the smug face.
4. Sometimes you just have to say yes to staying in PJs all day, watching nonstop movies, and eating cereal for dinner. Ain't no shame in the survival mode game.
5. Anything you say will be repeated back to you later. Don't be surprised if you hear one of your kids say something, think "Where did she hear THAT and why is she being so snarky?" and then realize - oh....
6. Nothing is ever going to go the way you planned it or imagined it. Just let it happen.
7. You are going to screw up. You are going to scream, lose your patience, lose your sh&*. You are going to cry and that is okay. Learn how to say "I'm sorry." This is the best lesson you can teach your children. Tell them you are not perfect, that you messed up, that you weren't kind, and ask for their forgiveness. Let me repeat, you are NOT perfect. They will understand and they will remember this later they they lose their sh&*.
8. Bribery is okay. Really. If you have to give your kid a tootsie roll pop to get through the grocery store in peace it is OKAY. Do whatever works for YOU.
9. Don't ever judge another woman on her birth story, whether she works or stays at home, whether she breast feeds or bottle feeds. All of us are doing what is best for us and our family and other people have no right to judge or remark on that. Be supportive of other women and other mothers. If you see someone who is struggling, offer to help. Tell her she is doing a GOOD JOB. Just be kind.
10. Be gentle with yourself. Don't beat yourself up. You are doing the best you can and tomorrow is a new day. Treat yourself with the respect and kindness that you expect and demand from others.
11. Choose your battles. Decide what is worth standing your ground about. Letting your littles wear a princess dress out of the house or allowing them to wear their shoes on the wrong feet for a little bit is not a battle. It's just not.
12. Always say yes when someone wants to snuggle, hug, or cuddle. But you don't have to say yes when someone wants to get in your bed. It's okay to want to sleep and it's okay to want to have your bed to yourself.
13. You don't have to do it all. A school bought lunch is not going to permanently scar your child. Store bought Valentines won't either. But if you want to do it all...then do it! Do whatever brings you the most joy and the least amount of stress.
14. Let your kids see you be silly.
15. Let your kids see you fail.
16. Let your kids see you pray.
17. Let your kids see you argue + make up.
18. Let your kids see you read.
19. Let your kids see you love their daddy. Hold his hand, kiss him, love on him. When they say EWWWWW tell them they will appreciate it one day.
20. Let your kids get dirty. Clothes can be washed and showers can be taken.
21. If you overschedule your kids they will be stressed and you will be stressed. Decide how many activities work best for you and your children and stick with this number.
22. Some days you will want to be anywhere but where you are. You will want to pee in peace, shower in peace, and you will want to be able to sleep uninterrupted. You will want silence instead of mommymommymommymommymommy You will need a break. When this happens it is okay to do something for YOU. This does not make you any less of a mother. This does not mean you don't appreciate or treasure your children and their fleeting little-ness. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise. Take care of you so you can take care of them.
23. Ask for help if you need it. Admit you are struggling if you are struggling. Reach out if you are drowning.
24. Take your children on adventures. These adventures can be to the park, to the library, to France, or to Italy. You can take them to Target, to the movies, or to the pool. Get out of the house and GO. You can do it. I promise. It will be good for all of you.
25. Get a planner. USE it. This will change your life.
26. Let your children go. Let them climb on their own and let them fall. Pick them up and kiss them when they fall and teach them to shake it off. Don't hover, don't overdo it. Let them fail and recover gracefully. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Falling will teach them to fly.
27. Whatever you are going through is not the end of the world. Babies stop crying, children potty train. They WILL eventually sleep, lose the binkie, stop crying every time you turn on the vacuum. This is not the hardest thing you will go through. Every season changes and every day is a new one.
28. Prepare to feel love like you've never felt it. The kind of love that physically hurts. The kind of love that will terrify you and empower you and knock you right over. The kind of love that will simultaneously turn you into a raging mama bear and a melting puddle of goo.