Motherly advice

I’ve always been a quiet person.  I’ve never had a need to give random advice to others (especially strangers).  That is until I became a mother.  Now it sort of makes sense to me why mothers dole out advice — both wanted and unwanted — to their kids and random strangers.  It is just in you.

I know my advice will switch gears from new moms to my child one of these days. (Comic from sardonicsalad.com)

It happens when I’m shopping at Target and see a woman with a big belly perusing the baby department with a scan gun for her registry.  It happens when I’m anywhere and see a couple who is pregnant with their first child.  It happens when I read status updates on Facebook of friends or family who are expecting their first child.  It happens when childless friends talk to me about wanting to start a family someday.

I manage to keep my mouth shut with complete strangers.  And I try to take it easy on my friends and family.  Hopefully, I succeed.  But, I want to somehow explain to them that they really don’t know what they’re in for.  Having a child is so much harder and so much more wonderful than you can ever expect.  Becoming a parent changes your world completely.

There are practical tips I’d love to share with these soon-to-be new mothers.  I’d share things like which infant tub is best and which big toys really come in handy and which take up more space than they are worth.  I’d share what to really expect from labor and delivery — the things that no one tells you, not even in the birthing class at the hospital.  I’d share suggestions for what to pack to take to said hospital.

And there are more abstract tips and ideas I’d share.  I’d tell them how the baby will take all of your energy and just when you’ve about had enough he or she will give you a smile for the first time.  Suddenly your energy renews and your heart melts, even if it is 3 a.m. and you’re up for the third time since going to bed at 10 p.m.  I’d tell them that it might take time, but you will eventually adjust to living life completely for someone else.  I’d tell them that eventually you will be able to find pieces of your identity again and remember sometimes that you are more than just a mom.

I’d tell them to take time to shower and relax in those first few months whenever they had a chance.  I’d tell them to ask for help and let a trusted person (grandparents are ideal) watch the baby for a bit even just so they could nap, run errands or (dare I say it) see a movie.

I’d tell them to worry less and enjoy more.  For the first couple of months, I lived in fear every time I put my daughter down at night to sleep that she wouldn’t wake up in the morning.  She’s a happy, healthy almost 19-month-old now.  I worried that if she saw a television show for even one minute she’d have ADD.  She couldn’t care less about TV, and she’s as smart as can be.  I worried that I wouldn’t produce enough milk and ended up with a chest freezer full.  All that worrying for nothing.

You see, all this advice (and more!) bubbles up within me as I encounter new moms.  I have lots to say.  Instead, I smile.  Or I say “Congratulations” if I know them.  I want to warn them.  I want to prepare them.  But, I also know that no one can prepare you.  It just isn’t possible.  I thought I was prepared.  I thought I knew what I was in for.  I didn’t.  I couldn’t have.  Then again, I guess that’s part of the whole parenthood experience.  And it leaves you with lots of advice.  I’m just wondering how much untold advice is around me from parents of older children on what will be coming my way.  On the other hand, I’m not sure I want to know, yet.  I’m also pretty sure that I won’t really get it until I experience it for myself.  That’s just the way life is.

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