I've been a parent for 10 years now (30 if you count my lifetime obsession with cats), and as a "seasoned" mom, there are things I want new moms to know. I've learned quite a bit about motherhood and what truly matters and what, in the end and even thought they can feel monumental in the moment, really don't matter much at all.
I remember arriving home from the hospital with our little bundle of joy, asking myself, "Now what?" Sometimes it feels like I was a scared, clueless new mom just yesterday and, well, sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago. While the time really does fly, in retrospect I've realized that since becoming a mom I've spent a lot of unnecessary time worrying and wondering about things I didn't have to. As a parent I thought, "Well, that's what you do. You worry!" However, even between my first child and my second, I've realized what's truly a priority (not much) and what I could set aside for another time (most things).
Throughout pregnancy, I journaled and contemplated various scenarios and questions the kind of mother I wanted to be. However, once we brought our daughter home, I forgot all of my planning and journalling (foreshadowing of what parenting is actually like, perhaps?). In the end I learned through living it and you, dear reader and new mom, probably will, too. However, if you're looking to ease some of the fear and uneasiness, here are a few things every seasoned mom wants (and needs) a new mom to know. I've got your back, dear friend.
It's OK If You Can't Do It All
I hate to break it to you but you're not a superhuman, and you shouldn't try to be. Despite what society tells us women about motherhood and life, the pressure and expectations will only make you feel as if you've failed before you've even tried. You're a new mother with all the strength and courage in the world, but if you aren't able to get everything finished in a day (laundry, cooking, or work, to name a few of the many responsibilities you probably tend to on a daily basis), everything will be fine. More importantly, you will be fine. I promise.
Take it from someone who tried (and failed) to do too much too often, only to get burnt out. Take care of yourself and your baby. That's it.
Almost Everything Else Can Wait
Basically, if your to-do list is longer than. "Take care of baby, take care of self," cross it off. Seriously. There isn't much that supersedes the adjustment of caring for a newborn (and yourself) after giving birth.
It takes time for things to feel like "the new normal," so don't stress about things not going the way you thought they might.
Enjoy Those Seemingly Hard Moments
I'll be honest, parenthood isn't easy. In fact, it can be downright disastrous and can break even the strongest of spirits. However, those days and nights when the baby is crying and you're exhausted, will pass. Not only that, you'll look back and see it wasn't so bad (and maybe even come to miss those days).
You'll Sleep Again. Eventually.
It doesn't seem like it in the beginning — when you're changing diapers left and right, waking every two hours to feed, and can't remember the last time you showered — but you will sleep again and it will be the best sleep you've ever had.
There's old advice of sleeping when the baby sleeps but I never could abide by it. So, I won't necessarily say "sleep when the baby sleeps," but I will say that you will sleep again.
Your Baby Doesn't Care How Much Stuff He Or She Has
Remember that baby shower when you got all the stuff from your registry, including a $400 stroller for all those jogs you plan to do (but don't), adorable onesies your child will likely never wear or wear once and spit up on, and a wipes warmer you literally might try once or twice? Yeah, me neither.
Oh, and your baby doesn't care about anything material. All your baby cares about is being near you, sleeping, eating, and pooping.
Missing Your Pre-Baby Days Is Normal, Not Selfish
At first, you'll basque in that new mom glow and love every second of your new life. Eventually though, and probably within a few days, fatigue sets in and you might find yourself mourning the days you could do whatever, whenever.
It's totally cool.
You've just shifted your entire life, at least temporarily, so feel however you need to feel and then move on. It doesn't mean you love your baby any less and actually, I'd be worried if you didn't feel this way (at least a little).
You Will Get Through It
I hate to sound all optimistic and such, but you'll get through that exhausting postpartum phase (and any other phase that follows) like a freakin' champ, whether you think you will at the time or not. As first-time mothers, we all have doubts about how to do things. But you know what? Live and learn.
One day, you'll look back at all these things you put so much worry and thought into and realize, it didn't matter an ounce. All that really matters is that you have your baby, and your baby has you.