Okay, okay. In all reality, I'm glad I did those things. They were helpful in their own ways. But nothing is like the hands on education you receive from just being a mom.
So here are my confessions. Things I have learned, discovered, and seen in these last 11 months of motherhood.
There is no way to explain the utter exhaustion that accompanies life with a newborn.
Leaving the hospital, I had slept a total of 5 hours over the course of three days. Yeah. So I didn't start things out on a very good foot. 11 months later, and Kymri is still not consistently sleeping through the night. People said I would be tired. Exhausted even. But until you've experienced 11 months of sleep deprivation, you just don't get it. And yet, I'm okay. Granted, I have the most amazing husband in the world who lets me sleep whenever possible. Plus, I'm convinced that mom's are given amazing powers when it comes to functioning on very little sleep. #mombie
Sometimes I don't actually know what's wrong.
When I was pregnant, one of my biggest fears was that I wouldn't understand my baby's needs. People reassured me that I would. As her mother, they said, I would come to intimately understand each cry and what it meant. There would be a hungry cry, dirty diaper cry, tired cry. But here's the truth: sometimes, I don't know what my baby needs. There are times that she has been fed, changed, cuddled, rocked, sung to, burped, has taken a nap, isn't sick, and still cries. Sometimes when that has happened, I've felt like a failure. How could I not know what she needs? I'm her mom. I'm supposed to just know. But I came to a recent realization: sometimes, babies have bad days too. Sometimes they just need to cry. Sometimes I won't know what's wrong. And that's okay. I will keep rocking her and singing to her, and eventually it will pass. I will love her through it and some day she will be able to tell me what's on her mind.
I find joy in the smallest things.
Who knew that I would be so happy over something so simple as hearing the words ma-ma for the first time? Watching my baby learn to clap her hands. Receiving a tender hug. Sleeping 6 hours straight. Or even (I'm gonna go there) the exact right number of wet and messy diapers! It may sound silly to you, but that's happiness. I find joy in a smile, a laugh, and cuddle, a coo. Life has become beautifully simple.
Everyone has an opinion about what you're doing.
The woman in the grocery store line? The one right behind you that you have never before met in your life? She will tell you that your child should be wearing a hat. After all, it's cold out there and don't you know that your child could catch something in this weather? And the mom of five who seems to just rock life in general, has every hair in place and perfect makeup every day? Yeah. She will laugh at your bulging diaper bag as she somehow carries only a spare diaper in her designer bag (to which I say, rock on). It will happen. At some point, someone will publicly tell you what you are doing wrong. And you just can't let it get to you. The first time this happened to me, I literally cried. I was doing my best. I seriously had no idea what I was doing, but I was trying. And the words stung. Clearly, I had ruined my child's life. But then I told Brad all about the experience and he helped me see that no permanent damage had been done. (Probably, no damage had been done at all). And I was able to move on. Try to smile through the criticism, knowing that people generally aren't trying to offend. They really do mean well. And then move on and laugh about it later.
Sometimes, I am the selfish mom.
As much as I didn't want to be a selfish mom, there are some moments that I just am. I try really hard not to be, but I have my shortcomings. Sometimes, Kymri has been crying all day and I just really need to use the bathroom. So I set her down in a safe place, use the bathroom, wash my face, and take 30 seconds to recharge while she cries for a minute. I feel totally bad about it, but it's necessary at times. It's hard to explain. It's something you just don't understand until you are in that moment. I do what I need to do, still hoping to be better next time.
I now take a ridiculous number of pictures.
Seriously. I am not even sort of embarrassed to admit that I have taken over 2500 pictures of Kymri! You might think that's excessive. If you have multiple children, you might think I'm crazy. But I will totally own up to the first time mom title on this one. Every single thing is new and exciting, and I want to document it all. Do I need to take 10 pictures of the same moment? Maybe not. But I do it anyways. And I'm not even sorry. Cute face? Click. Learned something new? Click. Fun new outfit? Click. Eating? Click. Sleeping? Click. Click. Click. Click... And of course the world needs to see all of these pictures. #overgram
Chocolate solves many of my troubles.
Brad's very wise Grandmother taught me that on the nights that I would be up long hours rocking a crying baby, nursing, and trying to catch a wink of sleep here and there, I deserved a piece of chocolate cake. Now is that wisdom, or what? So after a couple of hours of coaxing my stubborn little night owl back down, I would grab some chocolate, not even feel guilty about it, and drift into delicious slumber. Just to be awakened an hour later. But really, it helps. And it doesn't just have to be in the middle of the night. Did the baby wake up earlier than you had hoped? Drink hot chocolate for breakfast. Did you just change your fifth dirty diaper for the day? And was it maybe a blowout? Grab for the Hershey's bar in the freezer. Trust me. This is golden. Moms should simply always have a secret stash of chocolate on hand.
Only one child is a challenge, and that's okay.
"Just wait til you have another one!" Oh, if I had a dollar for every time I've heard that one! Any time I seem to be struggling with something--getting out the door in less than 20 minutes, figuring out when to take a shower amongst all the mommying, or even just how to be a mom--someone is bound to tell me that the load will only become greater when I have more children. I don't deny this is true. I'm amazed at mothers of many children. Truthfully, I don't even understand how they do it. But I do know that being a mother to one can also be difficult. Everything is new and different and there is no way to prepare for it. So if you're a first time mom and having a tough time figuring it all out, that's okay. It's allowed. And don't worry. You'll get it.
Sometimes I need help.
Before I had Kymri, I was slow to ask for help. I thought I could do it all. Most of the time, I at least stayed afloat. But after Kymri, I soon realized that I needed help. I had a bit of the baby blues and everything seemed so overwhelming. I remember crying over every little thing. I couldn't do it on my own. I needed help. And I had to ask for it. People are often willing to help new mothers, but just don't know how. Sometimes, it's okay to just ask. Do you need a hot meal? A chance to take a warm shower? A moment to yourself? Some adult conversation? Ask. It's okay.
I don't actually know what I'm doing, but God magnifies my every ability.
I have many weaknesses. Though I try my best, I often fall short and miss the mark. I mean, I've never done this before. But I know without a doubt that my work is noble. It is exactly what God would have me do. And so He magnifies my abilities. I give all that I can, all that I have. And He makes up the rest. He has taught me much about motherhood. I have looked to His example as the perfect Parent and He has taken my meager abilities and made them enough. I literally have no idea what I'm doing and feel like I'm in the motherhood crash course. But with the master teacher, all is well.
I have more love in my heart than I ever imagined possible.
Not only do I have an unexplainable love for Kymri, my love for everyone has grown. I truly can't put into words how much I love this little person. For me, it was instant. My heart grew. She filled me up. And that love has only grown more and more every day. It's a love that I couldn't even understand before Kymri came into my life. There is a special love you feel as a mother. When Kymri wraps her arms around my neck in the most perfect hug, I melt. When she gave me a wet, slobbery kiss for the first time, I literally teared up. The way she lights up when she sees me makes me happier than I can say. It's a love unlike any other. And loving her has made my love for others even greater. I've talked about how much more I adore Brad, even though I didn't think that was possible. The same is true for pretty much everyone. Somehow, I love them even more.