Monday, September 24, 2012

5 pieces of advice for a mother-to-be

A diaper cake created by my lovely daughters Sophie & Meagan.
Over the weekend, I hosted a baby shower for a dear friend and I've been thinking about words of wisdom that I would give to this new momma-to-be. Oh, there are lots of particulars that I remember having to learn. Such as which foods to feed when and such.And I don't remember those particulars anymore (even though my youngest is only 6).But these are some  principles that I gleaned along the way. I'm sure I've only scratched the surface. But here goes:

Peek at your children every night when they are asleep.
Look at that beautiful, sleeping face that you love without smudges, tears, or temper tantrums and fall back in-love with your baby. The harder the day; the more crucial it is to peek at them.

"Are you peeking again?" My husband would say, as he climbed out of bed to join me in my nightly ritual. Soon enough, he was as addicted to peeking as I was.

Hmmmm. It has been awhile since I've peeked at the children. Perhaps it's time to begin again. Or perhaps it's because they often go to bed just before me and are not yet asleep. Our stage has changed which leads us to the next tip:

Embrace the stage
Each stage of mothering has its challenges...and its joys. When they are newborns, they interrupt your sleep. A. Lot.  But they also fall asleep in your arms. They cry but smile only at you. Toddlers challenge your directions but they are fascinated with discoveries. Dandelions become wishing flowers. They are seeing the world for the first time, reminding us adults of fascinating discoveries we've forgotten long ago.

When the interrupted sleep and the seemingly constant challenges to our authority tempts us to wish they were older OR were already potty-trained. Remember, that we are also wishing away the cute hugs and kisses, how easy they are to hold or whatever the treasure of that stage is.

Embrace each stage with its challenges and joys.

Do what works.
Yes, seek wisdom. Read some books, ask some questions of mom peers and older-than-you moms. But in the what works. Which really means: gain confidence in your own motherly insight.

Even the first time they hand a crying baby to you over the very experienced moms in the room because you're the mom and you don't have as much mothering experience. Even then you're the expert because you're the mom of this baby and you love that baby in a way no one else does.

That love goes a long way.

I gleaned this hint of Do What Works just a day  into the new motherhood journey. In the hospital, struggling to nurse my newborn. The night nurse handed me a nursing shield. I didn't want to use it because all of the expert books said that this would confuse the baby and hinder his bonding process.

In the middle of the night, the nurse gently said, "You do what works." I used the shield. The baby & I both calmed down as he nourished his hungry, growing body. Even though I worried about what I was doing. If it was right or wrong. In the end it worked. My baby grew.

And as I grew in my motherly confidence, I realized that what works in your home looks a lot different from the books or how someone explains it to you. So if it is working, don't worry. Embrace it. Be thankful that it's working. Because there are certainly times when nothing works.

And for those times, remember this: 

When all else fails, send them to bed.
My mother in law told me this. So when "do what works" isn't working. Send them to bed. Turns out that this philosophy works well for toddlers, teenagers, and moms, too!.

Many times when I am in the kitchen prepping the next meal and the kids are fussing and I can barely think, then "when all else fails, send them to bed" floats into my mind.

Sometimes this means picking them up and setting them in their cribs. Sometimes it means they will walk to their beds and climb in with little or no fuss. Sometimes they won't go... and well that's another  story. But if they will go I highly recommend this practice.

Some quiet moments on the bed gives a needed break from each other's expectations. We need a place to be quiet, to think, pray, read, or sleep by ourselves without a screen to amuse us. This is a learned skill. And an important one at that because it refreshes the soul.

But do remember that not all things are solved during a 30 minute nap so hear this:

It takes time.
My mother-in-law said this when I was lamenting about how long it was taking to potty-train my first child. She said, "It takes time." In our high pressure culture to do, to see, to conquer. It's hard to slow down and take the time.

But that is what the children need. Time. It takes time to comb the tangles out. It takes time to learn how to use a toilet after years of never having used one.It takes time to walk from here to there.

This is an overarching principle:. It takes time. It takes time for a baby to become an adult. If it was quick and easy, we would be like the animals who send their children off in a year's time. But we don't. We have a much longer learning curve than that.

Our lives are in process. We all need time. Time to be who we are created to be. Parenting takes time. And in this culture where time is almost as precious as money and fame, it is a self-sacrificing place to take the time to walk as slow as a toddler needs.

To take the time to teach and to train instead of fussing at them for things they couldn't possibly know. It takes time to embrace the moment. Time to find what works and to do it. Time to send them to bed and take a break to breathe. Time to peek at them.

Take the time. Because before you know it seven minutes will have gone by and they'll be gone.

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What would you add?  What are some principles of parenting that you have gleaned? 

Linking with Jen at SDG sisters, click HERE for more inspiration.


  1. I love each of your points ... great thoughts for new moms.


  2. such good points here! yes. it all takes time, and it will look different from even your best friend or your sister. embrace the knowledge you come with in your gut, and don't be afraid to say "i need help" those are words i wished i had been braver to say.

    1. oh, Tara, that is a great point! It is so hard to say "i need help" I did learn to answer Yes when asked. That was somehow easier.


Thanks for being part of the conversation...I love hearing from you. Kathleen

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