This Mother’s Day we thought it would be fun to do a short series of letters written from mothers to their younger selves with advice or wisdom from the future. You know, one of those knowing what I know now I would…
This first letter is written by an author and friend of mine, Ginger, who is one year into motherhood.
July 12, 2013
I don’t want to spoil the secret but tomorrow you are going to be a mom. (I KNOW!) All this waiting boils down to eleven hours of intense labor and one tiny little seven-pound girl.
Obviously there is a ton I could share about this first year of life together, but I don’t want to spoil all of the surprises. Instead, I thought I would just hint at the top five things I wish I had known walking into this journey. Maybe I DID have some of these nuggets tucked into the recesses of my mind, but in the midst of the MAJOR LIFE CHANGE, I simply forgot. So, here you go, mommy.
• Release your need for OK Magazine’s title of “BEST POST-BABY BODY.” Why are the magazines obsessed with this in the first place? Geez. Remember the nine months it took your body to stretch and grow the little human? Give yourself time and grace for things to feel normal, much less look normal. Allow yourself time to rest and adjust to this new role.
• Don’t compare milestones. Your child will not grow, eat, sleep, or develop in the same way as any other child. Comparison steals joy. So if you need to get off social media because you can’t handle hearing about how the three-month old never cries and sleeps twelve hours a night, DO IT! Let books aid and guide where they can, but take joy and confidence in the fact that no one will know your baby as well as you do.
• Prioritize your spouse. It is so tempting to make life all about your new role as a mom, but remember, one of the greatest gifts you can give your child is a strong and loving marriage. Schedule date nights and lean in even when you are tempted to pull back. I know you are worried that having a kid will disrupt your marriage, but it doesn’t have to. Romance is challenging post-baby, but so worth any extra effort. I love my husband more and more as I watch him step into his role as father.
• Put down your phone. Don’t be so concerned with capturing her stages or sharing those photos that you forget to actually LIVE in those moments. This stage of life is fleeting. Blink and you have a six month-old. Blink again and she’s one. Choose to let her see your eyes and face rather than the back of an iPhone.
• Choose freedom over guilt. I teeter-tottered with guilt for way too long this year. Because I’m a work at home mom, I often felt extremely torn between my two jobs. When I was playing with my daughter I felt guilty for not working and when I was working I longed to just hold her. Although I definitely don’t feel perfectly balanced at this point, I’m shaking the guilt by choosing to be focused 100% on whatever I’m tackling. Once she goes down I work hard and fast, but when she’s awake, I refuse to feel guilty. There will always be floors to mop. She will only fit in my lap for so many years. God has chosen you to love this little girl AND to live out your gifts. You get the privilege of figuring out how to joyfully do both. You won’t do it perfectly but give yourself large doses of grace and start fresh each day.
This new role as mom is 95% delightfully wonderful and 5% ridiculously hard/awful. No matter how tough the day (or night), this tiny little person will call you da-da (and mean mama), and it will UNDO YOU in the best kind of way.
There is so much more I could share with you, but half of this journey is just trial by fire! Hold on tight (AND SLEEP WHILE YOU CAN!) – it’s a crazy wonderful ride.
Ginger Ciminello may sound like an Italian dessert but she’s actually a speaker and author from Phoenix, Arizona. Her first book, Forget the Corsage, was released last year. Ginger currently resides in Phoenix with her eHarmony-matched husband, David and their daughter. Find out more at gingerciminello.com.