notes to the new mom {practices of parenting}

1. no child can be spoiled with love.  
we let dishes pile.  every yes is a no to something else, and we want to say yes to now and to love and each other.  they are only little so long, and there aren't endless hours to snuggle baby #2, so we savor moments.  "doing nothing" together may just be everything after all.

{but friend?  not all moments savor-worthy:  poo-splosions, PPD, colic, sickness.  mothering is beautiful and wonderful, but it is hard, and if you're looking for permission not to carpe diem every second, you got it, sister.}

2.  baby carriers are magical.
at the grocery store, communion rail, or around the house, nothing beats securing baby to your chest in a cozy sling or wrap.  babywearing encourages infant sleep, discourages crying, and promotes attachment, making it a wonderful practice to learn in those harried first weeks and well beyond.

3.  we are the experts for our babes. 
not our mothers, neighbors, strangers in the grocery store, well-meaning church ladies, famous authors, or even the pediatrician.  we've learned to trust our instincts and take whatever anyone says with a grain of salt...or a whole salt shaker!

4.  we do what works for us, not whatever "they" say.  
dylan hated sleeping in her crib.  we thought she *should,* so we battled.  all three of us barely slept longer that two and a half hours at at time for eighteen exhausting months.

looking back, i wish we had brought her into bed with us and taken sleep where we could get it instead of trying to force what wasn't working.  dylan would have slept on her own eventually; she didn't have to do it from day one.

5.  relax.
milestones and schedules are not worth stressing over.  every kid is different.

6.  breastfeeding is natural (and wonderful and worth it), but it is not easy. 
read about it.  go to la leche league meetings.  take a breastfeeding class.  meet with a lactation consultant.  ask for help.  having good support can make all the difference.

but, also?  not every mother can.  not every mother wants to.  we work.  we adopt.  we face health problems.  we all give our babies our best and nourish and comfort them just like they need--with breast, pump, or formula.  at ease, mamas!

7.  every parent needs time away.
we [try to] schedule regular time for solitude and adult community and refuse to feel guilty about it.  time away nurtures us as people and makes us better equipped to love and serve each other.

8.  we all end up doing something as a parent that we swore we'd never do.  
it's true.  so we try to put away judging eyes and never say never.

9.  comparison is soul-crushing.  
so what if her kid walked first or sleeps through the night?  so what if she sews halloween costumes, mills her own flour, or weighs less pregnant than i do now?

we're different:  gifted in some ways and lacking in others.  we don't have the whole story on anyone else, and comparison only makes us feel competitive and self-conscious.  the mommy wars are a war against women that we'll all lose.  so we lay down arms.  we become conscientious objectors.

10.  there are no perfect parents.
even the ones that look like they have it all together don't.   we give ourselves--and one another--a break, permission to ask for help, and release from the fear of messing it up.  we apologize, ask forgiveness, and keep going.  perfection is an illusion, but we will find our sea legs and mercies new every morning.

what have you learned about motherhood?  what advice would you pass along?

{i wrote this in the throes of parenting baby #2 when #1 was two and a half. originally published 5/6/10. shared with sarah's parenting carnival.}


paige said...

This all seems like good advice. Of all of the people who chose this prompt the answer seem similar. That must mean there's something to it!

Thanks for visiting me. I like your blog. I'll definitely be back!

Heather said...

I wish more people were out there declaring that breastfeeding is challenging. And a little formula from time to time never killed anyone. After breastfeeding exclusively, I couldn't get my little guy to take formula AT ALL. There were times when I didn't have a choice, but I had no options. Pumping got me nowhere. Cheers to you and your lovely list!

Amy from Occupation: Mommy said...

All so true. Especially #3 and #4. That's why I rarely read parenting books can find one to support or discourage pretty much any choice you make. No matter what you do, you can feel validated or guilty! Parents know their own kids best.

Andrea said...

I did this prompt, too! :) Love #8 (I think) Never say never! Totally agree!

pinkdaisyjane said...

Great advice.You said everything I would want to, but just a little bit better! :) I'll be sharing this one.

Unknown said...

Beautifully written Zan and I love the pictures you chose to post. You are a great mom and I love that you use your experiences to encourage other women.
Definitely with the second baby "whatever works" has become my new motto. Little ones are meant to be enjoyed not stressed over.
Thanks for putting together this very true list.

Bri said...

I ADORE this post! And I agree 100%! Us moms are too hard on each other!

Kelly Irene said...

Great post! I agree with every one of them. As for #2, I wish I had known to do a little research and get a GOOD baby carrier. We bought one of the really popular ones, and it was horrible! I wish we had just sprung for the nice one to begin with, but I honestly didn't know anything about them.

#6...I tell this to every new mom I know along with "Get a lactation consultant (or some form of support) before the baby is even born". That way when you go in to see her it isn't awkward (as if anything is awkward after giving birth! ha!) We did not have any major problems, but it did make a big difference in those first few hormonal weeks to not be stressed over breastfeeding and to have support in that!

Heather said...

This is such a fabulous post! Right before my girls were born, a friend of mine sat down with me and shared many of these same points with me. I can't even begin to imagine how crazy I would have made myself, had I not heard some of this advice before my kids were born! My favorite though? Definitely #8! : )

Kelly Miller said...

These are all so true! I especially appreciate your advice to trust in yourself. The second guessing makes parenting so much harder than it has to be.

In Everything said...

I can agree with all of your "Notes" sounds like you've lerned a lot more than I did my 1st few years:) I just birthed my 4th baby last week and know that it's taken me years to get to this point... I am a much better parent to my newborn than I was with my first 2!!!

Melanie Bettinelli said...

Oh I so agree. Except #2. My third baby would only sleep in his infant car seat for the first oh 8 months of his life. It saved my sanity. And while I love having a sling for some things, I can't carry a baby on my chest for all that long and I feel like there are plenty of things I can't do with a baby in a carrier. Like frying in hot oil or chopping onions. Most cooking really. And when it comes to getting a sleeping baby into and out of the car in the dead of winter without waking her up, I'll bother with the ridiculously heavy infant car seat every time. But I guess that's where #4 comes in. What works for me isn't necessarily what works for anyone else.

Alyssa said...

awesome post - so true! None of my kids have loved sleep so much, except when they sleep with us. So that's where they sleep. I'm sure they won't be there when they head off to college, so I'm not too worried about it :)

Jennifer said...

This is a wonderful post! In my experiences, I agree with everything. When I was pregnant with my first child, I swore I would never co-sleep and then I end up with two babies, who would ONLY sleep touching me. Breastfeeding is absolutely great and I was lucky with starting with both sons but I learned with my second that what I ate really mattered. It turned out he was sensitive to milk, wheat and soy proteins. Once I took those things out of my diet he stopped crying around the clock.
Oh and I found myself saying AMEN out loud to trusting yourself and not every one else about what is best for your child. Thanks for sharing!

Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy said...

Yes, yes, yes--I've been nodding all through this post! I wish someone had told me this when I had my first. Really.

RumorsOfGlory said...

I wholeheartedly agree with each of your parenting tips! Great advice here.

Sarah Bessey said...

Beautiful, Suzannah. You're speaking my language here.

Anonymous said...

so, so good. i love your reminder that every child is different. there isn't a one size fits all...

blessings to you, beautiful.

Unknown said...

These are so great Suzannah! We have definitely employed all of them in some shape! I totally loved that don't carpe diem article too!

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