I was over 30 years old when my daughter joined our family. That's 30 years of ample opportunities for self-discovery and self-analysis. Plus, being married for eight of those years forced me to confront my best and worst qualities, too. Thankfully, the upside of the tough moments I've experienced is the undeniable fact that I learned things I'm glad I knew about myself before I had a baby.
I spent a ton of time in my head, swimming around with thoughts about what the "take away" was when it became obvious I would have to wait to start my family, when I was trying (for five years) to get pregnant. I couldn't stop wondering what I was learning about myself throughout that entire process, and how this time period may be preparing me for motherhood, perhaps even more than I would have been prepared if I had ended up pregnant at 27, like I initially wanted. For example, I definitely realized how much I liked being in control of certain things (like always knowing what dinner was going to be and when it was going to happen), that I need space to myself, and that I really don't enjoy researching topics of any kind.
While these lessons contributed to more than a few arguments between my husband and I, they also helped us learn everything we felt we needed to learn before we had our baby. In the end, I knew quite a lot about myself before I became a mom, and that has no doubt been helpful as I navigate these first few years of motherhood. So, with that in mind, here's a handful of things I'm glad I knew about myself before I became a mom, for those of you ready to embark on the same journey.
I Need Space
Sometimes, when my daughter needs just one more thing from me, I can feel my skin start to crawl. I love her to bits, I truly do, but that doesn't mean I don't start to lose my mind on the days when she manages to get into everything. I've always been the kind of person who needs time alone on a regular basis, and I've had to remind myself that it's OK for me to feel that way as a mom. I'm not a bad mom for needing breathing room from my beautiful daughter.
I'm Not The Research Type
I just don't have the patience for major research. My husband has always loved to dive deep into researching our next travel excursion, but I'd rather wing it once we get there (often using Instagram recommendations or a blog post here and there). The same has been true for motherhood: I haven't had the patience for reading entire books on sleep training or baby-lead weaning. Instead, I'll pick up tips here and there, somehow managing to cobble together a parenting plan as I go.
I Need Exercise
I need exercise if I am going to maintain my sanity. I need fresh air and I need to work up a sweat, otherwise who knows how my day will turn out. I knew physical exercise was a necessity before I became a mom, and it was so helpful to remember once I became a mom. When I felt frazzled and exhausted, fresh air and moving my body helped me clear my head.
I'm Not A Perfectionist
I was well aware, especially when my daughter was very little and needed to be gaining weight, that I'm not usually a perfectionist. However, I new that when it came to motherhood I needed edge towards perfectionism just a little bit more, in order to make sure I was helping my daughter enough. Still, being OK with not being the "perfect mom," helped in raising my daughter.
I Typically Hate The Process
I had a ridiculously difficult time getting my daughter on a schedule the first few months of her life. Nothing ever felt like it was happening the way it should, and for someone who judges most things on the result rather than the process, it was excruciating at times. Thankfully, knowing it was the process I didn't enjoy actually helped me take a deep breath and carry on.
I Do Value Results
I've always been more product oriented than process oriented, which has been tough in some circumstances I experienced before I became a mom. Not accomplishing certain things was hard for me when I was growing up. Likewise, when I became a mom, certain results (or their absence) were one of the toughest things to cope with. When my daughter didn't nap when I thought she should, or when she wouldn't finish a bottle for days on end, I had to remind myself that it was harder for me than it was for her.
I Like Certain Things My Way
My husband and I both knew both of us like to be in charge. It's probably because we're both the oldest siblings in our families, but we like to do things our own way. That was something we had to keep in mind when we had our daughter, and especially when we realized that in order to parent as a team, one of us had to take the back seat and let the other take charge. Two people can't be the expert at once all the time, especially when it comes to raising a baby, so we had to take turns when we didn't agree.
I Could Love A Baby I Didn't Give Birth To
Before we adopted our daughter, I knew in my heart that I didn't need to give birth to a baby in order to love her as my own. When we were waiting for her (or him at the time!) I didn't question whether I could love her enough.
Of course, once I became a mom this undeniable fact was confirmed, and has been continuously confirmed every day since.