Like any good mom, I was spending the majority of naptime scrolling through my Instagram feed and watching Insta-stories. I came across the Insta-story of one of my author heroes, Sarah Bessey, in which she threw a birthday party for her daughter with full-blown, store-bought, brand-name, superhero-themed plates, napkins, cups, decor, all the way down to the party attire and cake.
Adorable. Besides making a memory of her daughter’s special day, part of what she captured in her story was the passing of time. This was not the old familiar day from birthday’s past with hand-crafted locally-sourced party favors. This was a new day, as she and her daughter had reached a new stage. It was the day to fully embrace her daughter’s love of Batman in his true as-seen-on-TV form. Eat your heart out, Pinterest. She ended the story by reminiscing about her parenting approach as a first-time-mom versus many of her parenting decisions now as a mom of four. And her final point was:
“Love the mum you were and now love the mum you are. Love the mum you will be someday.”
(She’s so Canadian, I could die.)
We so often put such a negative spin on anything that we do not see in ourselves right here, at this very moment. Veteran mothers say with disdain and a little snort, “Oh well, she’s a first-time mom. Wait until that kid is older/baby #2 comes along!” The new mother sees the seasoned mom of multiple children and thinks, “I don’t care how many kids I have, I will never let them…”
Of course, things change from baby number one to baby number two and three, but don’t you remember how lovely it was to put all the baby photos in the little baby book? And yes, most moms of multiples are just happy everyone had pants or shoes on (yes, one or the other) when they walked out of the house, but isn’t that such a simpler way to live? Or how cool is it the first time an experienced mom gives a new mom a gift that no one else would have given, but she knew what that rookie needed? We all carry the same battle scars and Bottom Spray is not lost on a mama!
Love that mom. Love the mom she is. Love the mom she was. Love the mom she is going to be. Whether you are that mom or you’re thinking of someone else, remember these seasons of parenthood with our littles are shorter than we think. Having this tiny person interrupt our life was change enough, and now to be comfortable in a fluid state of parenthood is overwhelming! To be simultaneously holding on to memories while also moving on to the next stage is a lot to ask. Literally holding space open for both to have been and be true.
So whether you are new to the game or you’re a “been there; done that” here is a list of changes that you may see over time:
I honestly put my first baby down for naps at the exact same time every day. Two days a week she was with a babysitter and I was floored when they didn’t follow the same schedule. Do they even love her? I was vigilant about car rides. She must stay awake so she will nap at home! Now with my third baby, my husband will ask me when our son’s last nap was and I respond, “Um… I don’t know, how red are his eyes? Give him his blanket and see if he looks sleepy.” And somedays, sleepy car rides are my saving grace. Gone are the days of “never wake a sleeping baby” when suddenly it’s 2:45 and school pick up is at 3:00.
Let me just get this off my chest. I never thought I’d let my daughters watch “My Little Pony.” To be fair, I never swore that I wouldn’t, but I just thought I’d be more adept at sheltering them from stereotypical, commercialized “girly” brands and I’d be certain their screen time was always supervised and always educational. Now my son (#3) sometimes watches with them. And I’m just like, “Okay, cool, Pinkie Pie, you’ve got the kids? Momma’s going to take a shower.” Not to mention while it may have been pretty easy to keep my first from watching TV until she was older, by the time my second came along and saw the first one having screen time, it was all over. Before you know it they are all watching kids in Europe open eggs on Youtube.
In my first pregnancy, I met with a chiropractor who taught that if you’re making baby food purees the best method is fruits and veggies pureed raw and then add water until it’s the right consistency. No cooking or steaming. While I do not disagree that this is the most nutrient dense method, I was considerably overwhelmed and ended up having a panic attack in the kitchen. Needless to say, my husband went to the store and picked up about 30 jars of Gerber and called it a day. I conquered my fears and steamed homemade purees for my second. I used Baby Led Weaning techniques for my third who fed himself easily by the fistful. And now they all scavenge for leftover fruit snacks on the floor of the van.
Some Things Never Change for Moms
These are all humorous and relatable in one way or another. I stand here grateful for the lessons I’ve been learning with each of these three unique individuals. And while we’re at it, here are some of the things that never change:
- Baby’s First
From first smiles to first words, first steps, first day of school, first sleepover, and first prom, I don’t know about you, but I barely made it to the end of this sentence without getting a little choked up. No matter what stage, there are milestones. They never look exactly the same, but they are always meaningful.
This could be on both lists. The bedtime routine is going to change dramatically over the years, but while they are little, we have that chance to kiss them goodnight. Read one more story. Give one more hug. Stay just a little longer. As a mom of three, I am even more of a sucker at bedtime now than I ever was, because every morning they wake up one day older. Okay, now I’m crying.
You had to have known this was coming. It’s the most important of all the characteristics of parenthood. My unconditional love for my children never changes. It grows roots and goes deeper to become utterly unmovable.
And as we watch the way each of us loves our children and grow, we have to remember that it may look different between families, and it may look different over the years. Hold that sacred space for the mom you were. She was the sweetest and so sincere. Keep an open heart toward the mom you are now. She is working her hardest and giving everything she’s got. And save a seat for the mom you are yet to become. She is probably the most badass of them all.