Earlier this week I received an email from my husband's grandma. She was requesting my help as a favor. In a couple weeks she is in charge of doing a devotion at a young woman's baby shower. She titled her devotion, "What I wish I had known about motherhood before I became a mother." The favor I would perform was to email her back a few things that I wish I had known.
I thought about this a lot over the past week. There are so many things I wish someone would have told me. Practical things about childbirth and the month after, money savers on things a baby really needs, but mostly parenting advice. If only children came with a rule book and you simply looked up each answer to any problem. The only rule book I've found that's been infallible is the Bible. There are many practical verses to apply to every situation. However, you still must be pretty creative in coming up with how to apply it to your child.
I could have come up with many many things to share, but she only needed a few. It's so hard to narrow down the list. Here are the 4 that I chose to share with her.
My number one thing, I wish I had known how much my emotions would change. I will forever see tragedy and people in a different way, through a mother's eyes. I gained sensitivity toward the world. What if it was one of my children? How would I feel? I read a quote once and it's always stuck with me. "The decision to have a child is to recognize that your heart will forever walk outside of your body."
I wish someone had told me to trust my own instincts sooner. You will always have people: family, friends, even strangers giving you advice on how to raise your child. You know your child better than anyone around you. God has given a mother special intuition to know things in a more specific way. Listen to other people's advice, but ultimately do what you feel is the right thing to do. (I remember bringing Zech to the doctor when he was a baby and they kept telling me it was a virus and he would be fine. It wasn't until the 5th time going to the Doctor & ER, that I demanded they listen to me and run some tests on him. They found out he had a life-threatening blood infection. If I had trusted "other people's" advice, I'm convinced my son would not be alive today.) That's an extreme example. This applies to so much more. Be the parent that you feel called by God to be.
I wish I had known at the beginning I didn't have to be the perfect mom. Your kids will love you unconditionally no matter what. (I know this for a fact.) If you make a mistake, apologize; don't portray yourself as perfect. Kids will see right through it. But if you admit your mistakes, they will grow along with you, and love you all the more for being honest with them.
My last piece of advice, which people always do share with a new mother, is something that never seems to get through to them. This is one of those things you have to just live before you fully understand it.
I wish someone had told me how fast time would go by. You may feel like you'll always be taking care of small children, always be waking up in the middle of the night for feeding, always giving up everything for them, waiting on them hand and foot, but time will fly by. You will long for those moments again when they were little and you could hold them while they slept, nurse them all night long, and fix everything with just a kiss... It goes by too quickly!