If anyone out there knows where I can find a definitive list of mom milestones, please holler back. While there is value in every stage, and an especially surprising number of things you can learn from other new moms, sometimes it's hard to remember just what we've all been through. In my experience, there is no clear cut experience, or age, or number of diapers that moves you from "new mom" to "experienced mom." It happens slowly over time, after lots of practice and planning and patience. It's kind of like ordering a pizza: You don't know when it will arrive, but once it does, you can feel proud and satisfied. You did it. Your pizza has come.
To be honest, as the mom of an almost-2-year-old, I think I'm hovering somewhere in between new mom and experienced mom. Every week seems to bring a new stage, or a new word, or a new discovery, and I can appreciate that we still have many major developments ahead of us. But that said, I've been through pregnancy, the newborn stage, the infant stage, first steps, first words, and first ER visit, so I'm ~slightly~ more comfortable with the day-to-day than I was, say, 18 months ago. I'm also able to bring a new perspective to the conversation when I see that my friends who have kids who are younger than mine, and they're also to show me a thing or two as well, like:
Appreciating How Far You've Come
Gone are the days when my partner and I call our doctor's office to discuss the contents of our son's diaper, and gone are the days when every attempt at breastfeeding turned me into a soggy mess. I never really think about that until I'm around a brand new mom, and honestly, that perspective on my own growth as a parent is really valuable because it helps me not feel so daunted by the new things that are presently challenging me.
Stopping And Just Listening To Your Little One
Sometimes I quickly react to what I think my son needs instead of what he's actually asking for. Just the other day, I offered him a couple different kinds of snacks before it finally occurred to me that he wasn't fussing out of hunger; he was in need of a nap. My friends with younger babies are much better about this and running through the list of things that could be bothering their littles.
Appreciate The Milestones
The exciting parts of life with a newborn, like the first smiles, the first flash of recognition in your son or daughter's face, the first giggle, can make the world stop. My toddler's milestones are further apart now, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't celebrate them just as much.
Don't Let The Bad Moments Overwhelm You
In some ways, I get more frustrated by bad days now than I did when my son was younger. If I had to guess, I would say it's because now I've had so many good days to compare it to. Or perhaps it's because toddler meltdowns involve their whole body, as opposed to newborn cries which are pretty much just vocal cord practice.
What The Best New Gear Is, And Where To Find It
I have friends who are shocked — shocked — that we didn't have one of those huge, squishy horseshoe-looking pillows when my son was younger. It's worth it to check in with them before shopping for baby showers now that I'm officially out of practice.
Check Yourself Before Leaving The House
With a newborn, it's body fluid on your clothes. With a toddler, it's rando stickers or food stains.
What The Current Topics And Trends Are In The World Of Motherhood
High five to everyone with a parent (or grandparent) who has told them, "When my kids were younger, we didn't have to worry about that..." because now we have to worry about everything. My friends with a newborns remind me of it consistently.
Never Forget To Check In With The Doctor
OK, maybe I'm not sweating my son's third cough of the season as much as I was sweating his first one, but that doesn't mean I should not be keeping a close eye on it just the same. Being around the "new mom kid health mild panic" state can actually be a beneficial reminder that, even though we've seen our kids survive a lot, they're still relatively fragile and there really are times when we need to ring the nurse line.
That Every Baby is Different
I try to be careful not to impose all of my own ideas and beliefs on my friends because A) they may not agree with them, and B) who's to say that what worked for my son will also work for theirs?
What The Hell Words Like Boppy, Bumbo, Boba, And Moby Mean
Having a newborn requires you to speak a different language, one that is (surprisingly) easy to forget.