Mother’s Day has a way of making you look at your life through the lens of your parenting experiences. It’s like those nostalgic Facebook Memories that pop up each day and hit you in the feels, except Mother’s Day is like an entire flip-book full of them — whatever age your children are on any given year, you can’t help but remember the day you brought them home from the hospital. And, naturally, this makes you think, “Wow, I’ve come a long way since then.”
It doesn’t matter how ready you thought you were to be a mom, nothing really prepares you for the beautiful chaos of raising a tiny human. So, here at MakeItGrateful.com, we decided to give a few amazing mamas the opportunity to retroactively reach out to themselves in that daunting first year.
We asked them to reveal to their new (read: flustered) mom selves the advice they wish they knew back then. We encouraged them to share the wisdom that only comes from being in the trenches. Like, for example, that you should always carry gloves in your diaper bag for blow-outs, or that you probably need to “calm the frick down.”
As it turns out, the resulting video isn’t just letters from mothers to themselves or even to other mothers — rather, it’s like one big love letter to motherhood itself.
Crying? Same. You’ll find no judgment here. Just a virtual hug from another mama who’s in the thick of mothering, too. Not surprisingly, this video made me think back to my first 365 days as a mother and how real the struggle was. What would I tell the blurry-eyed, messy-bunned, sleep-deprived, full-of-doubt fledgling me from back then?
I’d probably start with this: Ask for help.
Admittedly, this has always been one of my greatest struggles in life. I’m stubbornly self-sufficient, often to my own detriment. But if there is ever a time in your life you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help, it’s when you’re a new mom. It may be a cliché, but it truly does take a village. If I could go back in time, I’d grab then-me by the shoulders and tell her to call her own mama to come over so she could squeeze in a nap. I’d tell her that, yes, it’s OK to let your best friend come over and do the dishes when your firefighter husband is on call overnight.
I’d also remind myself that comparison is the thief of joy. While I was fortunate enough to have my first child very close in date to my best friend and my sisters, it also meant I was constantly second-guessing my decisions. If they did something differently than I did, if their child had was wearing a “cuter” outfit, if they knew about a car seat recall that wasn’t even a blip on my radar — I beat myself up about it. I would give then-me a big hug and tell her being a mom is not one size fits all. It looks different on every single one of us.
My kids are 6 and almost 8 now, and I still feel like I learn something new every day. Perhaps this should be an annual exercise we, as mothers, do for ourselves to remind ourselves how much we’ve grown as mothers.
How about you? Here on the brink of Mother’s Day, what would you tell yourself if you could go back to that first year?