I’ve been thinking a lot this week about brand new motherhood. About the kind of mother I am now, and about the kinds of things that I would do differently if I had my first year as a mother to do over again.
1. Say “yes” to help. When people used to ask me if I needed help I would say “I’m okay.” It would pop out of my mouth before I could even think about it. I couldn’t allow anyone to help me out to my car, because the car was a horrible mess, and I couldn’t allow anyone to see that. I couldn’t accept help with housework (unless it was from my parents) because I was too mortified to allow anyone into my house.
2. Personal hygiene…it matters. When the twins were born and Tommy was back at work, I did something different than when Grace and Ava were babies. I worked in an extra 30 minutes before Tommy went to work and I took a shower and got completely dressed for the day. Tommy took care of the babies during this time, and all I had to do was make sure that I got up with enough time. I’ve since quit doing that most days…and need to return to it. However, I think this one thing could have really helped me feel better that first year. If I had just gotten up, brushed my teeth, and taken a shower first thing before Tommy left for work each day, I would have felt SO much better. It would have just set the tone for the day. Instead I would try and recover from the previous night of not sleeping well….and end up in my pajamas most of the day. This left me feeling scattered, and trapped in the house….because I would not allow myself out in public in that state. This leads me to my next suggestion.
3. Put yourself out there. I was so lonely that first year of motherhood. I remember when Gracie was two or three months old I had planned to go to a La Leche League meeting. I didn’t think about it the night before and didn’t set an alarm (I probably didn’t think I had to because I was usually up at the crack of dawn). Anyway, that day my eyes sprang open at 9 AM, and I jumped out of bed realizing that the meeting would be starting in an hour. I barely got Gracie dressed, nursed, and out the door in time.
We were the last pair to arrive at the meeting. I could already feel my cheeks getting hot from the embarrassment of being late…. and then I realized that her diaper had leaked and she had pee soaking through her pants. I was mortified and hoped that none of the other moms would notice…I had also forgotten to pack a change of clothes. However, this was the only social thing I had planned for the entire month. I remember being terrified that these other moms would think that I was horrible, but I was not going to leave.
Those monthly meetings were the only time I EVER got out of the house during the day. Sometimes I talked with friends on the phone, but honestly most of them had full time jobs and didn’t have the time to talk with me. Or I figured that my life was boring and no one wanted to talk to me. If I had it to do over again, I would get myself out of the house. I would go to story time, or look for a meet up online, or go to every La Leche League meeting in the metro area….Anything to keep away the debilitating loneliness that I felt.
4. Perfection. In those days, I tried so hard to be perfect. Or at the very least, I tried to be my version of perfect in front of others. I wanted the house to be spotless for company. Not only did I fail miserably at trying to be perfect, but that sort of perfectionism paralyzed me in a lot of ways and made it difficult for me to even get started on normal everyday tasks. It led me to basically spending a lot of time stressing about what I needed to do, or rushing around trying to get the bare minimum done because I had spent so long stressing and hadn’t started in time to reasonably accomplish my goals.
So, yeah if this is where you are, I hope you will do the nice things for yourself that I didn’t do for myself. Experienced moms, what would you add to the list?