Dear Brand New First Time Mom,
Here are a few words of advice from someone who has been doing this “new mom” thing for almost a year now:
You may think you know everything about babies and you may even have these great plans about how you are going to parent (and of course do everything right!). But when you really hit the trenches, give yourself a break when you end up throwing all of that away. For instance, when I was pregnant, my husband and I swore we would not use a pacifier, but that quickly changed when we had a one-month-old that would not go to sleep. Now it is a mad dash to find the missing pacifier when we are trying to put her to bed. Part of being a parent is learning to adjust to changes. You may have the idea that you are in charge, but I am here to tell you that the adorable screaming little human in your arms is the one who is really calling the shots.
Alright, so let’s talk social media. Do us all a favor and knock off the daily Facebook status updates and pictures, Tweets, and Snapchats of your new baby. We get it, you are absolutely in love with this brand new little creature and think he/she is the most adorable baby ever born. We are all excited that you had a baby, but let’s keep a little mystery in our relationship. Trust me, we will all appreciate it, and you will have everyone hanging on anxiously wanting more. People will be much more interested if you only post the absolute cutest pictures every once in a while. At any given time on my phone or camera there are 30 or so pictures of my baby in a slightly different position with a slightly different face. Pick the best one and limit your posts to once a week. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have the cutest baby; I do!
Another thing about Facebook: Don’t try to sugar-coat how tired and frustrated you are with daily status updates about how perfect your child is and how much you love being a mom. First of all, any mom, new or old, can see right through that. Secondly, no one expects you to be Mary Sunshine all the time. You are allowed to be tired/frustrated/grouchy/hormonal/emotional/scared or any combination of those. If you are reaching out on Facebook, maybe you need to take a look at your support system at home to see if you are getting all the help you need there.
Your status about how your six-week-old slept for 8 hours last night makes me want to reply with, “Good for you for getting eight hours of sleep last night! Enjoy it now, because it won’t last long! It’s not as if your kid is magical and your parenting is so fabulous. They go through these stages.” Everyone else that has done it knows that being a mom is not all rainbows and butterflies! It’s hard, scary, and messy. Come to think of it, I’m not sure why Mike Rowe never featured it on “Dirty Jobs.” Don’t get me wrong; being a mom is the absolute best job in the world, but it is far from easy being in charge of another life that depends solely on you for every little thing. You’ll be a lot happier when you realize you don’t have to put on a front for everyone that you are Super Mom. There is no such thing! We are all going to make mistakes as parents.
I know that everyone and their mother is giving you advice, and in my experience, that it is probably one of the most annoying parts about being a new mom. But I’ve found that it is not your grandmother who raised 10 kids, your own mom, or that weird lady behind you in line at the grocery store that gives the best advice. The person with the best advice is that other new mom that has a baby around the same age as yours. She just went through what you are going through and remembers five-week-olds sometimes cry for no reason or that breastfeeding isn’t always this natural thing with no problems!
This first year, I’ve learned that it’s not the bouncer or swing (or even the pacifier!) that is the lifesaver; it is that mom that has the similarly-aged baby. I don’t know how I would have made it through this year without one of my best friends that has a baby 2 months younger than mine. I’ve called her thinking I’m going crazy, and to hear she is going through the exact same thing has helped me realize maybe I’m not as crazy as I thought. You and the father of your child need to make your own decisions about how to raise your child, but don’t discredit advice offered by another new mom just because she doesn’t have 20-plus years of experience under her belt yet. Don’t alienate other new moms by acting superior or like you know it all.
So, New Mom, I know you are incredibly sleep deprived because, for some reason, the sound of a baby screaming in the middle of the night (strangely) cannot be heard by the new dad. Just as a little side story, a few months ago I was so tired that when I went to take care of the baby in the middle of the night one of the dogs followed me in and sat down on a toy that talked. In my very tired state, my first thought was, “Wow, the dog can talk!” followed directly by, “That is not what I was expecting his voice to sound like.” Anyways, your baby will eventually sleep through the night and she isn’t going to leave for college still depending on a pacifier to go to sleep (at least I hope not!).
You don’t need to pretend you’re the perfect mom. No one is, and there is no point in trying to make other moms feel like they will never be as superior as you because they only make enough breast milk to feed their own child and not enough to end world hunger (like you apparently do). We all have the same goal in mind. We want our kid to grow up to be healthy and happy.
Believe me, you are going to fail at things this year, and in the future, as a parent. At times it is going to be very hard, and you are going to question why you ever wanted to take on this job! If you want to make it through this first year, be flexible, leave your ideal expectations of what being a parent is at the door, make friends with other new moms, listen to what they say (even if you don’t follow their advice), and please, don’t bombard us with daily pictures of your baby or statuses about how perfect she is. In a few months, you’ll be the new mom with more experience than the one with a newborn and you don’t want them, during that extremely hormonal and changing time, to feel bad because everything doesn’t always go perfectly like it apparently did for you!
The mom of a “defective” almost 11-month-old
Kyla is a first time mom to a very cute, almost one-year-old little girl. She works in the food regulation and safety field but really wishes she could be a stay-at-home mom. She also lives with her firefighter husband (I know, every girl’s dream since the FDNY started their shirtless calendar!) and their three other babies: two lovable and crazy Labrador Retrievers and a cat that better identifies himself with dogs. When she isn’t changing dirty diapers or having 2 a.m. crib parties, Kyla is a 4-H leader, raises and shows rabbits, enjoys baking, watching NASCAR, and running half-marathons she put off training for.
So new moms, have any tips of your own? Tweet us @litdarling