There is no such thing as Utopian Motherhood. We all start out being clueless, making mistakes, getting frustrated, wondering whether we made the right decision of joining the parenthood bandwagon and then something magical happens which makes it all worthwhile. And that magic begins to unfold when our bundle of joy first smiles and gurgles at us, when they take their first baby steps and look at us expectantly for an applause, when they say their first words and so on. Well this magic lives up until they become toddlers and mysteriously starts playing hide and seek with us thereafter. No Kidding!
And so, although we all learn on the job, no matter how many parenting encyclopaedias we may have unearthed, there are a few truths every new mom ought to know now so that you don’t have to trade in your sanity for life.
- Breast Feeding: You will not hear the end of this. It will start at the time of conception and haunt you at least for 1 year. Let me just break it to you that breast feeding is not easy. Don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise. It takes time and might even test your patience. We all go through it. And never ever feel you have failed as a mother for bottle feeding. As long as you are feeding! That’s the point.
- Maternal Instinct: Maternal instinct is not a light bulb that turns on the minute the baby pops out. It takes time so in the mean while, listen to your experienced well wishers (aka your mother, aunty, mommy friends) and accept their advice with grace. In other words, don’t Google everything, ask them first.
- Military Regime: All those things you read in those parenting books, only happen in print. IN real life, the baby may one day wake up every hour for a feed and some days every four hours. So don’t set a military regime for feeding, pooping, cleaning, sleeping. Take it as it comes.
- Postpartum Depression: Expect to feel crappy some days, expect to feel nothing for your baby some days and expect to want to kill your husband at all times (just kidding). Welcome to postpartum depression. We all experience it through varying degrees. Don’t feel ashamed acknowledging it or getting help.
- Take care of yourself first: As selfish as this may sound, there is reason they ask you to put your mask on first before you help your child, when oxygen supply diminishes in the airplane. And so, if mommy is happy, the whole family is happy. Take time out, go for a walk, read, take a nap, meditate, and hit the gym. Whatever it is that you like, just make time for it and DO IT.
- Don’t be compelled to compare: Don’t become a victim to those who say, “Oh my baby sleeps for 10 hours straight.” Neither to those who say, “Oh, she is not a fussy eater at all.” Nor to those who say, “She started walking when she was just 8 months old.” Every child is different and so is every mother. But every mother-child bond has one thing in common and that is unconditional love. Just remember, none of this will matter; how much a child sleeps, how soon they learn to walk and talk. All that will matter is; whether they sleep well through tough times, whether they are feeding those in need and whether they learn to walk the talk!
- Tantrums: All babies/toddlers will throw a tantrum, start bawling and try to embarrass you at the most in opportune moment., especially when travelling. Take it and be strong. Ignore the mean stares of spectators trying to imply how bad a mother you are. You are not! It happens. To all of us at some point or the other. That’s how kids are. Totally unpredictable at times.
- Toys: No matter how fancy a toy is, babies since time immemorial love playing with everything else other than toys. So save yourself the trouble from getting that ultimate teether, because the baby is going to chew on your phone, wires, remote control and your specs anyways. They will love banging your car keys even though the drum kit might be at arm’s length. You get the drift right?
- Weight-loss: Stop losing sleep over this issue. Unless your life depends on it, let it be known that losing post baby weight is an extremely slow process and sometimes the weight will hang on to you like your new BFF. So, brace yourself and stop worrying about it. Just make sure you are eating healthy and not letting yourself go. Once the little munchkin hits toddlerhood, your boot camp will start. I promise!
- Hold on Tight: Carry your baby around whenever and wherever possible. It is the most warm and wonderful feeling and the one which may not last too long. You are not going to spoil them this way. Ever seen at 16 year old wanting to be carried around?
- They grow up fast: All the sleepless nights, baby poop cleaning, feeding, pacifying colicky babies, naughty child phase, terrible ( I call them terrific) two’s, the talkative three’s, the finicky four’s and the fabulous fives might seem like a lot of work. Initially time may pass really slowly (at least for the parents), but in hindsight it really flies. Don’t fret over the small stuff. Enjoy every moment with your child. They do grow up fast, especially once they hit five.
Every time I see old videos and pictures of my now seven year old, I want to relive some of the moments, but I know it is not possible now. So mommies, if you have just entered this wonderful phase in your life, cherish every moment and remember, ultimately all that matters is not how fast you raise them, but how well you raise them.
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This article originally appeared in Tinystep