My Real and Raw Advice for Mamas-to-Be
I recently went to a baby shower of a friend. Before opening presents, we all went around the circle sharing advice for the mama-to-be. I was one of the few women there who was in the midst of baby-hood. I was one of the few who was in the trenches, knowing first hand what this mama to be would be experiencing in the coming months. Most of the women either had grown children or were still childless. This shower was at the end of a long week – a week with a grumpy, teething baby. A week where I didn’t get much accomplished. A week where I wondered when this season would end. This shower came on a day when I left a tired, crying baby with my husband thankful to get a few hours of grownup time. As we went around the circle I heard a lot of advice but the two pieces of advice that were repeated over and over were: 1. Make sure to go on date nights with your spouse, even when your little one is very little.
2. Embrace every season you child goes through and enjoy it because it only lasts so long. As each person shared their advice and it inched closer and closer to my turn, a few tears dripped down my cheeks. My heart was heavy and it seemed like these women just didn’t understand. Finally, it was my turn. I smiled through my tears and looked at the wonderfully sweet mama-to-be. I wanted to be all rainbows and unicorns and give some happy-go-lucky advice but, instead, I gave her advice straight from my heart. This is the advice I gave her and the advice I give any of you who are beginning this journey of motherhood: Dear mother-to-be. As you sit here, enjoying your wonderful shower and basking in the love of so many people who are crazy about you and your coming child, it’s easy to listen to each piece of wonderful advice that’s being given you and think that it’s going to be easy to do all that’s being advised for you to do. I don’t want to belittle any of these women or shoot down the advice they have given but I do want to offer a different perspective. Yes, dates are important but sometimes you’ll need to let them go. Maybe you will have a difficult baby and absolutely cannot leave him or her with anyone – not even your spouse – for a long period of time. Maybe you have a baby who refuses a bottle but still wants to eat every two hours, a baby who screams so uncontrollably when he gets tired that even a woman who’s raised many children of her own can’t get him to calm down, or a baby who goes bonkers between the hours of eight and midnight each and every night. That was (and is) my story. I heard the advice that date nights were important and knew it was valuable to get out of the house alone with my spouse but it wasn’t an option. I felt guilty and felt as though I was failing as a wife. I felt like others would say that I was putting my son in front of my marriage. Don’t let people make you feel that way. Parenthood is HARD on marriage! You NEED to give one another grace and support. There will be times when you are so tired you can hardly look at your spouse without fighting. There will be times when you realize you haven’t had a real conversation with your spouse in days. If you then think back on how you’re SUPPOSED to be going out on weekly date nights you’ll drive yourself crazy with guilt. Instead of focusing on weekly date nights – my advice is to focus on GRACE. Things will get easier, I promise. And yes, you need to embrace each season of our children’s lives but it’s also ok to not enjoy every season and wish it away. I do not miss my son having to be bounced to sleep every night for an hour or so. I do not miss having to hold my son for each and every nap, staying as quiet and as still and praying that he would stay asleep longer than twenty minutes. I do not miss having my son melt down halfway through a grocery shopping expedition and dodging glaring glances from some of the shoppers while feeling so relieved in the kindness of others. I’ve felt so guilty for wishing away certain seasons of my son’s life. Don’t let people make you feel that way. Raising a child is HARD! There are things about raising a child that are unpleasant at best and horrible at worst. It’s ok to be thankful that seasons are passing by. Yes, there is good in every season. There is good that you’ll be sad to see gone and that is what you should hold onto. Embrace pieces of every season and happily let other pieces go. You’re going to be a wonderful mother! We’re all in this together!