For someone who is not a mom, I have read a TON of articles about parenting. I know it will come in handy one day, so I store the information in a little corner of my brain, ready to pull out when the time comes. I’ve read about everything from discipline techniques to teaching children gratitude.
And still, author and speaker Lisa-Jo Baker’s article “What I Wish I Could Go Back in Time and Tell Myself When I Was a New Mom” struck a chord with me as something I have never heard before.
Baker writes that motherhood can be so tiring that getting out of bed requires strenuous effort. It can be so lonely that you feel invisible because no one told you that they loved you today. And motherhood can feel like an endless cycle of messing up and wanting to start over.
She says, “There is so much you will get wrong… It’s OK to just accept that at the beginning. Or better yet, in the middle. It’s OK to just accept all the many times you’re going to need to start over.”
Motherhood is confusing. Sometimes you think you have the answer, but a little research says otherwise. Then the opposite can happen and all the parenting books are wrong about your child.
Baker writes, “You don’t know what you don’t know when you’re a new mom… And then it turns out you don’t know a whole host of new things when you’re a ten year old mom… What I know is that it’s OK to make mistakes. It’s important to keep learning. And that the kids love hearing about what the journey has been like. Because they don’t remember most of it. They love when I fill in the gaps… They love hearing all of it… Even the things I thought I got wrong.”
This is the one thing all first time moms must know: Those moments of stress and uncertainty can lead to beautiful moments later, if you let them.
As children grow, the spilled cereal messes will disappear (for the most part), and they won’t need mom to help tie their shoes and put on coats. You might be able to read a book without interruption for 30 minutes, or watch a whole TV show.
But there will still be messes and mistakes. There is only one Perfect Parent and we are not Him. But know that your children don’t need you to be perfect. They only need you to be present, in the mess ups and the tender moments.
Baker says, “So I’m better at stepping over the mess of today because who knows what kind of beauty it will show up as tomorrow.”
It comes down to granting yourself the grace you would for another.
In the Crosswalk.com article “Are You Mothering with Grace?” contributing writer Sarah Coleman says, “Parents just want to do what is best for their children. I often find myself second guessing, longing for the gift of hindsight before making decisions. You feel as though everyone scrutinises your parenting ability, from relatives and friends, to complete strangers. Jesus did not enter into discussion as to whether this child's parents were at fault. Neither should you.
“Things happen. In this world you will have trouble. Stop looking for someone to blame, or taking blame upon yourself. Instead, allow the power of God to manifest in your situation. I don't know why things go wrong, but I know God longs to show himself strong. When you find yourself feeling condemned or disappointed, pray that God's power will manifest.”
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:12-13).
Carrie Dedrick is an editor of Crosswalk.com. When she is not writing or editing, she can usually be found teaching dance classes, running marathons, or reading with at least one adopted dog on her lap.
Publication date: June 24, 2016