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You know when you are at at baby shower and they pass out those cute index cards with the instructions to “write down one bit of wisdom for the new mom”? Have you done that before? I’ve done it a couple times and I usually try to write down something cute or witty, not in the least bit helpful, mostly because I don’t have much advice to offer.
You’d think that after 4 kids I’d have a heaping pile of advice. But I don’t.
I have loads of stories, antidotes, some words of caution, but only one little tiny tidbit of advice. And here it is, lean in real close:
In one way or another, you will not be the mother you thought you’d be. You’ll fail, or fall short, or deeply dislike something you thought you’d love. It will happen. And when it does, acknowledge it, accept it, and forgive yourself.
That’s it. That is the only thing I know for sure and feel confident telling expectant mothers. You will fail. Forgive yourself.
Perhaps I have boiled down all of my motherly wisdom (ha!) to this one point because this is what I needed to hear most during those early days of my mothering adventure.
I was a (judgmental) woman of 29 when I became a mother. I’d have plenty of younger siblings, was an aunt many times over, and taught for a living so the thought that I would be shocked or surprised by anything parenthood threw my way was utterly unthinkable. I was going to be a eco-friendly, super economical, home-school, craft crazy kid of a mom, all while maintaining a spotless home and residing at the nucleus of a thriving community of mothers.
5 years later, let’s see how I’m doing.
I waste too much, spend too much. Ain’t no way this momma is home-schooling this hoard. Sorry. I try to craft with the kids once a week, and spend the following 6 days scraping paint off all the surfaces of the house and swearing under my breath. Spotless home? Hilarious. And you guys on my email list are about as close as I’ve gotten to creating a thriving community of mothers.
So, in other words, F to the AIL.
I used to really beat myself up about these things. Here was the ideal, and here was me–a mile away. But that’s just the thing about motherhood. It is such a noble vocation, and we have such an amazing example in Mary, that it is a good thing that we set such high and lofty standards for ourselves. It is good that we long for motherhood, that we visualize ourselves as mothers before we hold our first baby, and even when we don’t quite become the magical mothers we had thought we would be, we FORGIVE ourselves and become the mothers we were meant to be.
Mothers that loose their tempers, but ask for forgiveness.
Mothers that force the kids to take naps just so we don’t loose our minds.
Mothers that pack a lunch for our kids and send them off to school knowing they will be taught by wonderful teachers, and that we will love them better after a day away from them.
Mothers that give diapers and wipes as baby shower gifts instead of personalized cuteness, because we know what babes actually need.
That’s right. I have become the mother that wraps up and gives diapers and wipes at baby showers. I once thought this was tacky, or no fun, but now I see it as practical and awesome. Those first days home with a baby are crazy. Days and nights blur together, laundry piles up and the absolute LATE thing I want to do is run out for more diapers.
I have 2 sisters expecting right now–one is expecting #5, the other #6 (yeah, we’re those kind of Catholics). And you can bet your butt that they will be getting diapers and wipes from me as a gift. Because really, regardless of if the baby is boy or girl, they have plenty of that blankets/clothes/toys/baby nonsense. The one thing I know they will need–diapers.
Here’s a picture of the whole crew–my family along with the families of my 2 sisters:
So I’m getting them the big pack from Costco–online because, yeah, have you seen the crew I roll with? I love ordering things online, and having it brought directly to my door.
My older sister is a long-time Huggies user, and she’s made a bit of a convert of me. Huggies Little Snugglers Plus are designed to help keep baby’s skin clean and healthy and are super soft with a 12 hour Leak Lock–great for cute little baby butts and sleep deprived Moms. I use them with my new babies and gift them to all the new moms I know.
So there is the best advice I can muster. Forgive yourself and when your friend has a baby, skip the cute outfit and get her some diapers. It might not get the gasps and ohhs at the baby shower when the gift is opened, but the gift will be USED and will actually make a positive difference for that new moms during the most challenging days of her life.
Now that is an awesome gift.
And in case you are planning a baby shower, in the near future, I’ve designed some pretty cards for you to use. I have no doubt that there actually are expert moms out there with real advice–and advice always sounds a little sweeter when scrawled on a pretty card.
To use, first off, head HERE to download the free PDF file of these Advice for Mom Baby Shower Cards. Then, print out the number you need. They come 2 to a page, so cut the individual cards out and use them at your next shower. I will be totally touched when and if you do.
All the very best, sweet Mommas!
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