My first baby just had his tenth birthday. He was just born five minutes ago. And then I blinked. I can definitely testify to the truth of that old saying: “The days are long but the years are short.” I’m no expert, but I have learned some valuable lessons along the way.
Here are ten things I’ve learned in ten years of motherhood.
- Expect the unexpected.
From minute one, motherhood has been full of surprises. Our firstborn was named and the room decorated in various shades of pink just as soon as we left our gender-revealing ultrasound. The kid was five minutes old before someone thought to tell us that she was a he. Our poor ultrasound tech must have had an off day. Oops.
- Haters gonna hate.
No matter what we choose for our children, there will be plenty of people who passionately disagree with us. Breast or bottle, cloth or disposable, free-range or Pop-Tarts. I’m still somewhat shocked at how freely people will shame a mom for her choices. After ten years, my skin has finally thickened up and I’ve learned to own my decisions.
- Coffee and wine.
The only two things I can think of that I get to enjoy on my own without sharing with my kids. They don’t even ask anymore. Cheers!
- This, too, shall pass.
Whether it’s teething, potty training, or the crazy drama of threenagers, there are seasons of motherhood. I thought I would never leave the house without packing for a three-day safari. And then suddenly, I was carrying a cute purse again. (Would someone please occasionally remind me of my own words because we started over with a new baby last year. Ahem. See #1. Also, #3.)
- Choose Laughter.
When they draw whiskers on their faces in permanent marker the day before family portraits. When I drop the diaper and the contents fall out in front of a crowd. When I’m carrying a screaming kid half my size all the way through Target. These are the moments that could easily send me into a mommy meltdown. It took some practice, but I learned to laugh. Especially when I realized these are the stories I’ll get to tell at their rehearsal dinners.
- Take lots of photos.
I’m not saying spend all your time documenting life instead of living it but now that my babies aren’t babies anymore? I absolutely treasure the daily moments frozen in time. Chubby two-year-old hands grasping a favorite toy, a dimpled smile covered in chocolate, and that look of concentration as she tried her best to color in the lines.
- Be “selfish” when you can.
It’s so rare, but seize any chance you get to remember who you were before you were mom. Maybe it’s a daily run or a weekly art class. Maybe it’s an annual girls’ getaway (if so, please invite me). Whatever it looks like for us, we need to enjoy it guilt-free. We pour ourselves out for our families and if we’re never refilled, we have nothing left to give.
- Never say never.
I always said I would never drive a minivan. I swore I would never ever homeschool. Now I’m happily driving a swagger waggon to co-op. It is okay to change your mind.
- Ask for help.
I am stubbornly (and sometimes stupidly) independent. I hate admitting I need help. But little human beings are dependent on me for actual life and sometimes that means I have to check my ego for the benefit of us all. Guess what? Most people truly don’t mind lending a hand. They want to help! Let them.
- Find your tribe.
This whole motherhood thing is no joke. The great news is that we’re not alone. We have sisters in the trenches with us. Moms need community. We need that safe space where we can let our guard down, get real, and hear, “Oh my gosh, me too!” If you have that? Cherish it. If you don’t? Let’s get connected! We need each other, mamas.