I’ve only been a mom for a few months shy of 4 years, so I don’t feel wholly qualified to be giving anybody advice on motherhood. Every day for me is a huge learning experience: my patience is tested, my strength waivers, my inner-voice tries to beat me down. Every single day of motherhood has somehow changed me – even in the slightest – and tomorrow it will happen again. Somedays I feel like I’ve got it under control and know exactly what I’m doing and other days I feel like I’m Drew Barrymore in a scene from 50 First Dates: like, who the hell are these people in my house and why are they acting like I should know how to keep them alive for the day?! There’s certainly a balance that grows to exist between these types of days… and as soon as I start to feel like the amnesia scenes are lessening then BOOM: a major life-change rocks me back into the chaos. Right now, I’m on the dawn of one of those big changes and I’m trying to prepare for the tsunami.
So, what I do feel qualified to tell you as mothers (and fathers) looking to validate your feelings and worries is this: there is no other person on the planet who gets to decide how your journey into parenthood looks or feels except you. Not your friends, not the internet, not your family, not even your own spouse. YOU are in charge of this fun bus and where it goes. You pick the playlist. The weather. The traffic. That’s it. You.
See, this has been part of what has changed me over the course of the last few years. In the beginning of my life as a new mom, I was seeking solace in the words of other parents who had embarked on this wacky journey before me. I would read the compilation lists of do’s and don’t’s and I learned about all the different parenting styles. I gasped at internet memes claiming that Pop Tarts would surely kill my kids. I wasted hours of my day with a mindset of worry that I was doing something wrong. Other people seemed to make it look easy. Facebook albums flooded my newsfeed with pictures of amazing family vacations or mommas of infants sipping mimosas with their girlfriends at brunch. Everyone else seemed so put-together. So well-rested. So… good at being a parent.
Meanwhile, I felt like I was lost in a whirlwind of confusion and despair. I felt judged. I felt inadequate. I felt like the eyes of the world wouldn’t take themselves off of me. I was letting the world drive my fun bus, you guys. I took absolutely no honor in the God-given natural instinct that was actually carrying me through my days and I let everyone else decide what kind of journey I was on. I let the experiences of other parents become my own truths.
And obviously, that’s a super poopy way to live… right? So here’s the thing: nothing about parenthood is cut and dry. Nothing.
See, recently I’ve been mom-barded (haha, see what I did there?) with all sorts of unwanted “advice” about what my life is about to look like. On a daily basis, I hear things like,
“THREE GIRLS? Good luck with that.”
“Oh your poor husband!”
“Just wait till they’re teenagers.”
“Start saving for weddings now!”
“You should buy stock in Tampax.”
(Ok, so maybe that last one is solid advice. HOWEVER…)
These statements make my skin crawl. They make me angry. They make me want to scream. But before I do any of those things, I have to take a deep breath and remember who is driving this bus. ME. I AM. And I will not accept that my transition into being a momma of 3 girls will be anything but a blessing and a giant learning experience. Will I struggle? Absolutely. Will I cry? You bet. Will I question myself? Undoubtedly. But I will not let the words of other parents decide when my feelings are valid or invalid. Their experiences do not have to be MY reality. This is what I want to tell ALL mommas… and it’s what I try to tell my new-mom friends if they seek advice from me. One person’s struggle can very well be another’s strength. Just because I lived it, doesn’t mean you will… and that goes for just about every obstacle and blessing that comes with parenthood.
I know it sounds cliché, “You’re in charge of your own happiness and blah blah blah…” but the truth is that you are in charge of your own parenting journey. How you choose to react to the overabundance of unwanted and unwarranted advice is totally up to you. You can let it consume you, or you can make your own reality from firsthand experiences. The truth is in taking most of what you hear with a grain of salt – even the words you are reading right now – and choose your happiness based on what works for you and your kids.
That’s truly the only secret to doing it right. It just has to work for your own little circle.
So go ahead and compile your lists of what to buy and what not to. Read the articles on the best way to parent. Feverishly seek the words of the “wise” and write down all the answers. Shoot, scroll back to my blog post from 2013 just months after I became a new mom… Where ever it is you look, you will find exactly what you are looking for… Just stay seated behind the wheel, turn up your favorite song, and drive into your paradise.
Hope to see you there,