I didn’t grow up with one of those amazing mothers who knows all and solves all. Quite the contrary, unfortunately. I also did not have grandmothers, aunts, or other women in my life who could fill in this gap. Therefore, I needed to fill this gap.
I read up and listened in, acquiring bits and pieces of wisdom from other mothers who did come from those kinds of families. Because the very best wisdom is passed along when it’s tried, tested, and relevant to you. Books are great for laying thorough groundwork, but relationships are the place where you can get the affirmation and application you need the most.
The one thing I did know was this: I wanted to raise quality humans.
And now, as I find myself nearing the end of the first leg of this marathon of motherhood, I feel I have some wisdom to pass along to the mom who’s at the beginning of her race. Because, in an effort to encourage you, I want you to know that I did it; I raised quality adults. I reached my goal, and you can too.
Here are 10 things you should know about motherhood while you’re in the thick of it…
1. Open Your Present
I know you are leaving the hospital in pain, overwhelmed, excited, and leaking from places you never expected, but hear me now. You can do this! Just love him. Hold him, kiss him, give him your attention. I know it’s hard. And you are mentally bored (maybe even stir crazy at times) but this is how the job begins. Not ends. It gets way more interesting, I promise. You just got a present, and you don’t know what it is. No instructions included. You won’t even figure him out until he is almost 10. He’s a boy. He’s very different than you. He thinks scaring you is awesome—let him. Eventually, you’ll begin to anticipate his next move. This one is going to make you a better human. He gets extra grace for doing that for you.
2. Binkies and Blankies
Your kids will have their own “security” or “comfort” supplemented with something material. A binkie or a blankie. Don’t freak out. They’ll grow out of it…totally normal. However, binkies drop on the ground, and believe it or not sometimes blankies get left behind or thrown in the trash. If you can, purchase back-ups. Pro tip: Interchange two versions of the same blanket. They know the smell, texture, etc. Imposters will not make it through inspection.
3. Does It Spark Joy?
It really starts to snowball when they begin preschool. What is with all the art projects and paperwork? You will have no idea what to keep and what to pitch. Yes, I said it. You most definitely do not need to keep it all. And shouldn’t. There is so much of this stuff coming your way, you have no idea. Take Marie Kondo’s advice (she’s not a thing yet, but trust me) does it spark joy? That means, only keep what you absolutely love. There will be enough. And oh… all those school photos and photos from sports teams, cub scouts, dance, girl scouts, church, etc. Only pay for basic packages; keep a large one from every year. All the awards can be used as décor for their high school graduation party. That’s the best place to put it all on display.
I didn’t grow up with one of those amazing mothers who knows all and solves all. But I wanted to raise quality humans so this is what I did.
4. What Doesn’t Kill You, Makes You Stronger
You will hear yourself say this along the way. That my dear is a red flag. You need some you time. Motherhood is very hard and rewarding, of course. But it takes a lot of energy, and you will need to stay encouraged along the way. Seek out women further along than you are; one place to find them is at Bible studies—which is a bonus because it will help you read your Bible. You also need to have fun. And please, get a hobby. So join a club. It will be good for you and your people.
5. Create Bucket Lists
These are an awesome way to make sure you have some highlights along the way. The days can be monotonous, the months can get packed full of nothing special, and the years, well they can some how fly by. So, make bucket lists. Travel destinations, activities, you name it. It’s an easy way to create a highlight reel of memories. The time does go by fast.
6. Meriods and Periods
Yep, boys get hormonal too. Your daughter and her friends will refer to this as the “meriod.” Brace yourself. This will be very hard for your son. And for you. Judging how much space to give without him isolating will require some testing. It starts early. There can be weight gain, mood swings, and rebellion you’ve not seen up to this point. Sounds like PMS, right? Just love him through it, he’ll bounce back. (Also, this article might be helpful for you too: Ask Dr. Zoe – My Tween Boy is Distant, What Do I Do?.)
7. Hugs and Kisses
This one is easy when they are babies and littles. But right around the age 7, as they gain more independence, you’ll need to be intentional about this. Keep giving them hugs and kisses. Especially, throughout their teen years. They need physical touch. Don’t do it in public unless they give you permission. But, in the privacy of a “good morning” or “good night,” sneak it in. I’m telling you this as your future self—your son will tower over you before you know it. Guess what…he’ll lean down and tilt his head for you to give him a kiss on the cheek. Don’t give in easy when he starts playing hard to get. And your daughter… Sometimes the two of you will even hold hands, in public!
8. Don’t Get Distracted
There will be so many opportunities and exciting things to teach these little humans. But don’t get so distracted that you miss the most important lesson. Tell them all about Jesus. Do not be afraid! You don’t need a title to shepherd your flock. Read the Scriptures to them. Model your own walk in front of them. Play worship music around them. Share the gospel with them. Tell them what having a relationship with Jesus has meant to you. That’s what it means to make disciples. The rest is up to God.
9. Let Them Say Anything
You have a specific role in their emotional development. Be the safest person in their life. Let them say anything. If they ask you to promise to keep it a secret, you need to agree as long as what they share won’t hurt them or someone else. Also, you need to get on the same page as their father about secrets. Whenever possible, if needed. Be prepared to hear anything and keep a straight face. You can lose your cool later behind closed doors. The most important thing is to be there for them no matter what they are going through. The more you know, the more you can help them.
The very best parenting wisdom is passed along when it’s tried, tested, and relevant to you.
10. You Are There to Champion, Every Step of the Way
This will require both grit and grace. Helping them reach their full potential won’t always be fun or easy. You will need to encourage them in the direction of hard. You’ll find yourself at their side when they need to apologize, take responsibility, and navigate disappointments. The most important thing is this: don’t judge learning as the end of the story. They are learning to be good humans. It not natural. They will lie, cheat, steal, etc. Be there to walk with them. Champion them in the principal’s office and at the awards ceremonies. They are in process. They will need your grit and grace along the way.
As I look back, I am stunned at what it takes to be a mom. Just in case no one has told you lately, you are doing a good job. Keep it up. It’s worthy work you are doing. You are on a mission to produce quality adults.
And quality adults can change the world as we know it. Don’t give up.
For more on motherhood issues and encouragement, check out this podcast episode: Rest Easy Moms, Here Are the Things That Matter – 102