encouragement

Happy New Year from The Motherhood Collective!

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For those of you who joined us for the first time yesterday morning, welcome! We enjoyed meeting each of you and truly hope you were able to connect, learn and receive support. If you have any questions about yesterday's topic, panelists, our resources, please let me know: lbarnes@themotherhoodcollective.org. The Café panelists covered a vast array of subjects, from adding value to our children to their methods of correction. They encouraged us to embrace today, reminding us that the challenges we face today will fade and new obstacles will arise with each year of growth (even when our children are grown!). Each season with our children is precious and brief. Eileen spoke of how she writes out a blessing for her children full of hopes for their future and affirmations of who they are today. She reads this to them on their birthday and frames them. What a beautiful idea!

Our hope for this year is to bring more depth to our education and support by serving you in love, on purpose and with focus. We are honored to create spaces where women of all philosophies, parenting theories, ages, and backgrounds can come together and support one another. Together we will "nurture the mother to grow the child".

Most sincerely,

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"Just wait…!": A bad parenting habit I need to break

It started when I was pregnant with my twins.  Experienced parents would cluck their tongues, shake their heads and state:"Just wait….!"

"Just wait…you think pregnancy is hard? Wait until you have newborns!" "Just wait….you better sleep now because you won't have a good night's sleep for the next 5 years!"

Then after the baby is born, I started hearing these predictions:

"Just wait till he starts teething! Now that's sleep deprivation!" "Oh, I wish mine was a newborn again. Just wait till they can walk! You'll never sit down again!" "Be thankful they can't talk yet. Just wait till they are toddlers. All I hear is "no! no! no!' Can you say temper tantrum?!"

Twin two year old glory

 

Then came toddlerhood:

"You think he has an attitude now? Just wait till he's a teenager!" "You think you worry about safety now? Just wait till he's driving!"

I just sigh. Because with each "Just wait!"all I really hear is this: "You think your life is hard now? Just wait! In a few years, you're going to be even more miserable! Parenting is really going to suck then! Haha!"

But, if I am really honest, I know I've said this phrase myself.

The real question is Why? Why do we caution new parents to "hold on! Just wait….!"

When I examine my heart and attitude toward parenting, I know I've said "Just wait!" for a few complicated, and rather embarrasing reasons:

1. I want to warn less experienced parents of what is coming up. Hey, the "Terrible Threes" ARE harder than the "Terrible Twos."

2. I want to be patted on the back: Yes, dear. Parenting is hard. Here's a gold star. 

3. I want to feel superior: You, poor new parent, haven't even experienced the agony that is to come. Heh, heh, heh. Just wait… 

#1 is the only reason that is only slightly unselfish (though really, any parent will discover that three is harder than two on her own). The other two reasons just make me cringe that I've ever said "Just wait" to a newer parent.

To me, and any exhausted parent who is just looking for sympathy and support for a hard day….or hard stage….of parenting, the last thing we want to hear is this: "Just wait. The worst is yet to come."

I've only been a parent for 7 years but I've come to realize two small truths: 1. Every parenting stage has its challenges. In some ways, it gets better. In some ways, it gets harder. Mostly it just gets different. 2. Messages of encouragement do far more good than predictions of doom.

I'm trying to break the "just wait" habit in myself. I want to look forward to the future with my children (yes! even the teenage years!) and not live in dread of every new stage.

But even more than adjusting my own attitude, I want to start offering more encouragement and support to my fellow parents. Maybe we could all try out some new "Just waits…"

"Just wait till you hold that new baby in your arms and kiss that sweet head. It is so worth it." "Just wait till she smiles for the first time. Your heart will melt." "Just wait till he says, 'I love you, mama!'" "Just wait till she waves at you at her school program, nudges the kid next to her and says, "look! That's my mom!" And even... "Just wait till he gets his license and can go to Kroger and pick up milk."

Yes, all of those things are worth waiting for…and looking forward to.

dear mama, a letter for you...

Dear New/Expecting Mamas,

I wanted to write you and do what most people will not do for you as you are expecting your first/next bundle of joy. I'm going to be honest and transparent. Here are a few thoughts and tips as you begin this new journey...

1. Motherhood is hard. No joke. Some days, it's downright horrible. There will be times when showing your children unconditional love won't exactly be what's crossing your mind.

2. You will be complimented on your glow as your belly grows, but won't be informed that that glow may turn into night sweats and leave your bed damp and you wondering if you're five again.

3.Because you're growing a mini human inside your body, that body is going to change...and most likely stay that way. And.it's.okay. Don't deny it. Don't refuse to believe it. Embrace it, cause it sure is going to embrace you. I'm not saying to never strive to exercise and take care of your postpartum body...only to recognize reality and understand that your body will fight you every step of the way. Fight back.

4. You will be encouraged to "eat for two" and satisfy that craving...thinking twice about this will greatly reduce your struggle with  #3.

5.Know that you may not feel that instant love as that little one is placed on your chest for the first time. It's not always a magical moment, and that's okay. There will be time for that. Do not begin your journey of motherhood by believing the lies that it has to be a certain way or you're a bad mom. Mama Dear, you are amazing. Give yourself grace...those fuzzy feelings will come.

6. If you have been blessed with a good baby the first time around, wonderful! People will encourage you by warning you to "watch out" for the next one, because apparently they can foretell the future. Just smile and reply with "Thank you for your imput." then walk away quickly before you say what you really think.

7. You will want to mentally store away the reply in #6, cause you're gonna need it. A lot.

8. Those tiny little fingers and tiny little toes? Oh, yes, they are most definitely precious and sweet...just remember that when they put their fingerprints all over that clean window, or use that finger to pick their nose and wipe it on the couch, or when those feet kick you in the face in a tantrum. Sweet, darling children...

9. Changing diapers will get old. With your first child, that may happen when they begin baby food...with your second, by 3 months...with your fourth, after the first diaper.

10. Sex will be different. Be patient and remember that your spouse is your first love.

11. Be aware of the reality of postpartum depression and other perinatal mood disorders. They are real and you very well could end up struggling with it. A support system is needed beyond meals for two weeks after delivery. Don't wait until your breaking point to ask for help.

12. After you've had a child, you will be asked for the next 10-15 years, "So when's the next one?" "Are you guys done?" "It's about time for another one, isn't it?" Also, your belly will become the not-so-discrete focal point during conversations and passing "Hi, how are you's?" This only increases when you have all your children with you, specifically if you have more than two.

13. "Oh, you're going to be such a great mom!"  Yes, you will be. Yes, you are. Do not allow these well-meaning statements to burn an unrealistic expectation in your heart that you must prove your worthiness of the "Mom" title to everyone else. You are the best for your child, because your child was given to you. Yes, you will make mistakes. Learn and move on, and leave others' expectations there, too.

Mama Dear, children are wonderful, but I'm not going to lie and say that it's all fun and games. It's not. But it.is.worth it.

And I wouldn't trade it for the world.