Hi guys! A few weeks ago, my baby celebrated his 8th birthday. I’m still floored that I have an 8 year old, y’all. It’s been crazy to watch him learn and grow. I’d babysat growing up and watched my brother and sister develop but that hasn’t compared to having a child of my own. I didn’t realize how little I understood about motherhood until after I became a mom. I also didn’t realize how little I understood about myself. As cliché as it is, it’s so true – having a baby changes everything. It exposes you. It amplifies you. It challenges you. It makes you learn about you. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.
This one may be a given but being an effective parent requires a good bit of patience. I didn’t realize how much of a rush I was always in until after I was forced to slow down and be present with my son. In the beginning, you need to take your time and learn your baby – figuring out what kinds of things are comforting to them and what they like, standing watch to catch a glimpse of them smiling in their sleep, soaking in the new baby smell before it’s taken over by… other odors. Then, as they grow, they always want you to “watch this!” Or take their time telling you every detail – every. single. detail. of whatever story they want to tell you today – with follow-up questions… Girl, patience! There is no sense in getting frustrated about it. Your baby is reminding you to slow down.
It’s an indescribable feeling to be completely responsible for someone else’s life. A child cannot provide anything for themselves. As a parent, you’re not just responsible for your child’s food, shelter, clothing, and safety. You have to teach them right from wrong, provide an education for them, encourage their dreams, help cultivate their talents. How you approach parenting has a profound impact on the way your child perceives the world and interacts with the people in it. This is an immense responsibility and something I simply can’t do on my own. It takes faith and reliance on God to get it right. I pray every day for the wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit to get it right, and for His protection to rest and watch over my son. I know that He can take care of him far better than I can. In this way, being a mom has strengthened my faith.
Being a mom requires a level of boldness and confidence that I didn’t realize I needed and I didn’t realize I had. Remember that responsibility I mentioned earlier? Other people, as well-meaning as they may be, will push the limit when it comes to your parenting. What you feed your child, how you dress them, how you do their hair, who you let or don’t let them hang around, if you send them to traditional school or homeschool, what their bedtime is, if you allow them to co-sleep or they sleep in their crib… Everything you do will be questioned in some way and that’s normal. But what you shouldn’t do is be tossed about with whichever suggestion you hear on what you need to do different. Now, by all means, seek counsel and guidance from the people that you know and trust, ask questions, and get help when you need help to make decisions. Being a parent is not a job to take lightly. You’re literally helping to shape someone’s life. Once you’ve made your decisions though – once you’re comfortable and at peace with the decisions that you’ve made in how your child will be raised – let that decision stand and don’t let guilt creep in if you’ve chosen to do things differently than your parents did. As long as you are making the best decisions that you can for your child with their health, safety, and well-being as the priority, stay confident in the decisions you’ve made.
If I haven’t gotten better at anything else over the past 8 years, I’ve become a pro at the pivot. Y’all, being a parent has made me flexible in ways I didn’t think possible. Now, obviously, I don’t mean physically flexible (although, I am working out more these days, so look out), but I wear so many hats as mom, I can’t help but be flexible. I am a cook, a teacher, a provider, a disciplinarian, a stylist, a nurse, a nutritionist, a comforter, a cheerleader, and still can’t forget the essence of who I was before a became a mom. I need to be whatever is needed at the time to make sure both my son and I are taken care of.
Life can be hard. And no matter what anyone tells you, being a parent is just hard sometimes too. It takes the last little bit of gas you have left and then some. It can be physically and mentally taxing. Let me be very transparent for a moment. Things have happened in my life that made me want to give up, and there have been times that I made calculated decisions on exactly how I planned to quit. The only reason why I didn’t was because I had my son. Not because I didn’t think that I could go through with it, but because I could not make peace with knowing how he would feel if I was no longer there. I literally could not leave him. I couldn’t hurt him like that. So, I had to muster everything I had left – and I struggled to muster it everyday for a while – to keep going for him. Thinking of him first gave me enough strength to pray, to talk to my own mom about what I was dealing with, and get through another day. Then one day, I didn’t need to muster strength anymore. I had learned to persevere and let go of a desire to quit. I had finally gotten to the place where I really trusted the Lord for healing for myself and opened my heart to receive it. I know now that I’m strong enough to make it through anything. And it all started because I was a mom.
My son’s favorite questions start with ‘Mom, what if…’ He seems to take a little time every day to just dream, and he dreams big! I don’t know exactly when it happens, but somewhere in between being a kid and being an adult, we forget how to dream. We stop thinking big and verbalizing those grand ‘what ifs’. My son reminds me what it’s like to dream again, just be silly, and have fun. It’s incredibly refreshing sometimes to just sit down and dream.
I’m amazed when I think about how much my life has changed in the last 8 years. As challenging as motherhood can be sometimes, it’s crazy to think about the times when things were ever any different. Motherhood has polished my rough edges and strengthened me in areas where I didn’t even know I was weak before. My son is growing, and I am too.