My first born turned seven in July so I am celebrating 7 years of this journey called motherhood. If there is something that you realize as you become a mother it is that babies don't come with a manual, so there is a lot of FEAR of the unknown as you go through the first-time's with your first born.
Motherhood starts the moment you find out that you're pregnant as you navigate morning sickness, how to eat for baby, the various growth stages baby goes through inside you and finally arrival and the fourth trimester. Here are my takeaways from the past 7 years. Know that I am speaking directly to myself as I need to read and follow the same advice too.
There is absolutely no way I could have gotten through the past 7 years without prayer. My prayers evolved through the different seasons of motherhood from praying for baby to poop - I kid you not, waiting 7 to 8 days for your baby to poop will have you praying all sorts of prayers. I remember being really concerned when my daughter hadn't walked by 17.5 months and my mama gut knew that something was wrong. We prayed and fasted and at a prayer meeting at church, she finally took her first steps. She now she runs all over the place but I know that prayer and prayer alone got us through this. More recently I am praying for friendships in my 7 year old's life, for guidance and also for wisdom because he asks so many deep questions and I need the Lord to impart some knowledge on me.
2. It goes by so FAST & it goes too SLOW
When you're down in the trenches and the kids wont sleep or they have been cranky all day and you are all exhausted, motherhood seems to slow down and you get irritated by people who keep telling you "it goes by so fast". I spent the better part of parenthood waiting for a season to be done - especially the hard seasons like teething when the babies weren't sleeping or when the terrible two's were in full swing. Truth is IT GOES BY SO FAST. I literally remember like yesterday the day we brought our first baby home. The exhilaration, the fear, the anticipation and the cluelessness. And just like that he's 7. As a wise person once said: the days are long but the years are short.
3. Savour every phase because once it's gone, it's GONE.
Whenever I go through the pictures on my phone I am amazed at how big the kids have grown. Take tons of pictures and videos, take selfies with the kids, get the husband to take pictures for you. As moms we often take millions of pictures of our kids but we don't often get in there. Dont mind what you look like just get in there and be a part of the memories and the collective memory of the family. I have also learned the value of getting professional portraits of the family done. I love me a gallery wall and I have created one in every home we have lived in. Nothing like some crisp photos to tell the story of the family. Time waits for no one, savour the seasons even the bittersweet ones, because you don't get to keep your babies, nor your toddlers nor your preschoolers nor your school age kids. They keep growing and then one day they are out of our houses. So savour them. EVERYDAY.
4. Sleep is GOLDEN
Before having kids, sleep mattered to me. Now that I have experienced interrupted sleep, I know how precious sleep is. When the kids are over reacting or over cranky check if they are over-tired or not getting enough sleep. More sleep is great for everyone so ride those challenging sleep deprived seasons and hopefully sleep is around the corner. There is no point in sleep training before 4 months: babies wake up often and that's very normal even though it is really tiring for parents.
5. Routine is EVERYTHING
Our big boy got us on a schedule pretty early. He slept at 7pm and thankfully he slept through the night from about 1 year. Lets not talk about the time before that. We quickly learned that routine was everything. When the twins arrived they fell into the routine and we've had no choice but to do it this way. We try to respect the routine and try to be consistent where we can and it has been a lifesaver for us. Consistency gives kids a sense of comfort because they can anticipate what is coming next. Doesn't mean that kids don't go to bed without a fight - just means we have the same fight at about the same time every day.
6. Trust your gut voice
Your mommy instinct is there for a reason. They don't say mama knows best for nothing. If you're second guessing letting your child go for a play date or you have a bad feeling about something going on in the daycare, trust you gut voice and follow through to find out what's going on. I've never regretted trusting my gut voice and the one or two times that I didn't listen, I wished that I did. Mama does know best.
7. Be kind to yourself mama
We are often so hard on ourselves and the mom guilt struggle is real. You are doing your best mama and that's all your kids need. Some days are easier than others, some days are harder than others but one thing is for sure: all of it is immensely worth it. For every time you ask yourself if you're a good mother, remind yourself that you indeed are.