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15 Things I’ve Learned From Being a Mom

January 14, 2012

Becoming a parent is the most life-changing experience I’ve ever experienced.  There’s no book that can prepare you for what to expect or what you should do in every situation.  When I became a mother, I was 21 years old, a newlywed, and a new Army wife.  My husband left for basic training less than three weeks after our wedding.  After he finished AIT, we moved to Fort Hood, Texas, 1000 miles away from home.  I had to adjust to being married, being pregnant, and going from civilian to Army life in a brand new place.  Six weeks after our son Peter was born, my husband left for a 15-month deployment to Iraq.  I was still a very young girl, and now a mother, all alone, not knowing anyone besides our upstairs neighbor.  Needless to say, I had to grow up fast.  I’ve made mistakes, I’ve had some great moments, but most of all, I’ve really grown as a person and learned way more than I would have in any classroom.  I wish I could have known some of these things from the very beginning.

1.) The illusion of the perfect parent does not exist.  For me, for you, or for anyone else.  None of us really has a clue what we’re doing at times, and there’s a lot of “winging it.”  If someone’s life seems impossibly perfect–there’s a reason for that.  Especially on blogs or on Facebook, where a few pictures and some cute stories seem to paint the perfect picture.  There’s always going to be tears, meltdowns, and frustration behind the scenes.  For parent AND child.  Anyone who tells you having a child is all sunshines and rainbows is flat-out lying to you.  It’s not awful by any means, but it does get extremely challenging at times.  Luckily, kids are pretty cool and the sweet moments always outshine the hard ones.

2.) You will do things you said you’d NEVER do.  I’ve cleaned dried-on food off my kids’ face with spit and my finger.  I’ve spanked.  I’ve forgotten to eat for almost a whole day.  I’ve let them eat junk food at Grandma’s house, and I’ve even let them eat cake for breakfast.  It happens to the best of us. 

3.) You will realize how much free time you USED to have.  Seriously, if you asked me at 19, I would have told you I was the busiest person on the planet.  I was working full-time, going to school full time, and also living with my husband, when he was still my boyfriend.  I felt burnt out.  My apartment was a mess.  Yet, I still had the time to watch my favorite shows and go to the mall.  I went out with friends on the weekend.  I had oodles of free time in between semesters.  Which leads me to…

4.) You become more efficient after each child.  I still have to do all of the things I had to do before I had kids.  I still have to go grocery shopping, pay the bills, pick up my house, do the laundry, work on school work. But I also have to take care of three children.  I don’t have more hours in the day, but I have learned to make the most of my time. 

5.) Everyone you know, and everyone you don’t know will be an expert, giving you parenting advice.  Warrented or not.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told what I should be doing with my kids.  Strangers especially like to give their two cents on how my children should be dressed.  On a winter day, “make sure you bundle up that baby!”  DUH.  On a summer day, “you should have a hat on that child!  It’s too windy!” 

6.) You can have your boy in head-to-toe blue with a onesie that says “Daddy’s little man” and people will still ask you if your baby is a boy or a girl.  And vice versa. 

7.) There will always be people who think you are doing it wrong.  Always, always, always. I had no idea there was such a controversy and such passion behind such issues as Breastfeeding vs Bottlefeeding, Vaccinations vs Not Vaxing, Circumcision vs Not, etc, etc, etc.  The only right way is to do what feels right to you and works for your lifestyle.  I tend to follow the tenents of Attachment Parenting, but not all of them.  Not because I read about them first, but because I did what felt right and what worked for me, like nursing and co-sleeping.  It wasn’t like I had a husband at home to help or to object, and it’s kind of convenient to have your baby right there for midnight feedings. 

8.) The best toys are not toys.  It’s so true that kids would rather play with the box a toy came in than play with the toy itself.  Kids love cell phones, but only real ones that call people when they press the buttons 🙂  Spatulas become magic wands, socks become puppets, and underwear becomes a super hero mask.  I’m not even kidding.

9.) You will master the art of selective hearing.  While I was pregnant with my third child, I worked as a Personal Banker at a local bank.  I was opening an account for a couple who had brought their young, unruly children with them into my office.  I smiled at them and gave them stickers and suckers while getting all the necessary info from their parents, and I became totally oblivious to the amount of noise they were making and to them running around the room.  After they had left, my (childless) boss came into my office from her’s behind me, just so upset and stressed out because she couldn’t focus on her work with all the commotion.  She asked me how I could concentrate under such conditions, and I looked at her like she was crazy.  I could vaguely remember a little noise, but I realized I had just blocked it out.  I can usually have a normal conversation with my husband despite the chaos 🙂

10.) The phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” is so true.  You cannot afford to be a loner when you’re a parent.  There will be times when you can’t do everything for everyone or when you get sick and need help or when you can’t be there to give your child a ride from one place to another.  You have to reach out and find people who can help.  It took me almost a year at Fort Hood to realize this. You aren’t going to meet people by never leaving your house.  You have to search.  If you’re a shy, quiet person like me, you have to get over it and get friendly.  You might meet another person at the playground, at work, at the grocery store, at the gym, at church, at a barbeque–it doesn’t matter, just get out there and meet people, and don’t stop until you find someone you trust that could help you out in a pinch.  It isn’t ever worth putting your child’s safety at stake or not doing something important for yourself just because you don’t know anyone.  Get to know someone.

11.) It’s okay to ask for help.  Just because you can do it does not mean that you always should.  I thought it would be common sense that I might need a break now and then (even if it was just to go grocery shopping by myself) after my daughter was born.  My son was two years old and my husband went on a 12-month deployment six weeks after my daughter was born.  I didn’t ever ask anyone for help, because I knew I could handle it and because I thought people would see my situation and offer to help.  No one did.  I regret never letting people know how vulnerable I felt.  All they ever saw was the strong image I chose to portray, as the girl who had it all together and could handle anything.  Even the strongest people appreciate a kind gesture or a few hours of kid-free time.  You shouldn’t feel bad or guilty for wanting to have some time to yourself.  I have recently started asking for help more often.  I like it.

12.) Don’t forget about YOU.  I’ve lost my identity of Tangy many, many times.  I’ve just become mom for months on end.  It isn’t healthy.  Take care of yourself.  Physically, mentally, and spiritually.  You’ll be a better person and a better mother for it.  For me, it means fitting in regular exercise, eating well, dressing in clothes that are not my husband’s old t-shirts, and putting on makeup.  This is still a work in progress for me.

13.) No matter how many times you clean your house, it will just get messed up again.  Let the little things slide.  And do NOT invest in any furniture you absolutely love, or anything for that matter, until your kids are older.  They will destroy it.  My couches have ink stains, my dining room table was scratched with scissors, my chairs have been broken from being knocked over too many times. 

14.) The day after Christmas = the most stressful day of the year.  The kids have just spent the last couple of days getting spoiled at all 6 Christmases we went to, they’re coming off a sugar high, and it’s a big dissapointment to have it all be over with.  You almost need an engineering degree for the crazy amount of wrappers and packaging to free the toys and to assemble them. There’s a bunch of new toys to put away in an already crowded bedroom, batteries to track down, new clothes to wash, new movies to watch, and new books to read.  And they want to play with everything all at once. 

15.) You never realize how much you can love someone. I’ve never really been a kid person, but your own kids are totally different, even different from the love you have for your nieces and nephews.  You fall in love with this perfect little person who becomes the center of your life, and everything you do from that moment on suddenly carries an importance that was not there before. 

There’s no love like the love a mother has for her child(ren) ❤



2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2012 3:54 pm

    Everything you wrote is sooooo true! Thanks for sharing 🙂 sounds like you’re doing an amazing job. Those 3 kids of yours are very lucky!

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