Things they don’t tell you about motherhood

When people find out you’re pregnant, they automatically offer advice. Here’s how to do this, be ready for that, don’t worry if ____ happens — you know the drill. In these last 4 months, I’ve been amazed at the things I’ve learned that nobody has told me, or maybe they did and I didn’t listen. Here are some surprising things nobody tells you before you become a mom:

If you have a little girl, pay attention to her bows. I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve looked back and RJ’s bow had fallen in front of her eyes because the bow was too big for her head. No wonder the kid was crying. Now that her head is OFF THE CHARTS huge, bows tend to leave dents in her head. It’s comical, but also makes you feel like the worst. So if you’re putting a bow on the child’s head, make sure it fits.

The laundry. Oh my gosh the laundry. Before RJ was born, I would wash probably 3 loads a week. Now, I can easily do about 8 loads…and still be behind. I feel like some homeless person must be sneaking into my house in the middle of the night and using all of our clothes, because surely 2.5 people can’t produce this much laundry. Right? Wrong.Tiny babies poop everywhere and spit up and have really cute outfits that they grow out of in a matter of minutes seconds.  When it comes to laundry, 1 + 1 + 1  = 312,780,412 (apparently).

At home date nights are a thing of the past. Once you have a baby, it becomes even more important to spend quality time with your man. But listen closely — do not try to have an at home date night. We’ve given this a go a couple of times, and it was a joke. We cooked a yummy dinner, rented a movie, and sat down to watch it together. And that’s when the baby decides it’s time to have a meltdown (never mind the fact that mom should have realized it was time to eat). At home date nights are great in theory, but only lead to a failed attempt at quality time.

Dad will always be the fun one. This one here really gets me riled up. As moms, we put in all of the work leading up to the kid being born. We grow the child for 9 whole months, we go through labor (or if you’re like me, you have a C-section because your baby is completely upside down), learn how to breastfeed/bottle feed and wake up in the middle of the night, and then when the kid learns to smile, they will only do it for dad. Not that parenthood is a competition or anything, but come on kid!

I’m pretty sure babies are bi-polar. Little babes have this incredible and strange ability to go from crying sorority girl (disclaimer: cut this video off before you get to the last 5 seconds…there is a bad word) to this level of happy in a matter of 0.12 seconds. It is equal parts terrifying and adorable.

Tiny baby snuggles are the best. Let’s be real, some things about motherhood can be frustrating. But as soon as your baby snuggles up to you, all of the irritating things just melt away. The heavens open up and the angels sing, and all is right in the world.

What about you? What surprised you about motherhood?

You’re not Mom

Quick disclaimer, if the title didn’t tip you off, I’m not Sarah. Our little girl reminds me of this quite frequently, and it’s neither a bad thing nor a good thing. Being Dad simply looks very different than being Mom. Some things I literally can not do and other things S can’t do. 

One of the hardest parts of adjusting to being a dad is the “what do I do?” question that pops up about every time the kid squeaks. When the kid melts down because they are hungry…not much I can do. It seems silly, but it plays itself out in hard ways. Early on when the baby has to eat every 2-3 hours and S is getting out of bed 4 times a night to feed the kid, it isn’t easy to know what to do or how to help. As previously stated, Dad is no help when it comes to feeding. Often times this leads to feeling inadequate and guilty. I get to stay in bed while S doesn’t sleep and feeds the baby. But what’s a guy to do? 

There is a feeling that every guy has felt. He is holding a small child and the thing erupts. Sad. Pathetic. Loud. The little ball of cuteness has morphed into a monster, like Jack-Jack at the end of The Incredibles. The first time this happens for a mom, she may inwardly freak out, but outwardly she calmly soothes the kid back to tiny human form. The first time this happens to a guy he holds the kid at arms length and prays for the mother to take it back. The point here is that Mom is just better at comfort. Dad can try and even be successful from time to time, but he is never what the kid actually wants. He will always be number two in the pecking order. But what’s a guy to do? 

Grouped together with the first two insufficiencies is the knowledge that God gave moms an intuition that he omitted from dads. We’ve all seen this even without having our own kids. You’re at a restaurant with a new mom and her kid, no one else sees it, no one else could possibly see it, but the mom sees, senses, or hears that the baby needs something. She tells you whats wrong and quick draws a bottle out of a holster like an Old Western sheriff or puts the kid to sleep in 0.25 seconds. These are the things that intimidate a dad. Most of us don’t get to spend as much time with the kid, so we don’t know them as well. We want to help, but genuinely have no clue what we are doing 95% of the time (this is actually true in pretty much every aspect of life, we never actually know what we are doing). So what’s a guy to do? 

1. Do something. Anything remotely helpful. Go get the diapers and the wipes ready for changing. Make a bottle. Or, when all baby tasks are taken, do stuff around the house like fold laundry, pickup all the kids toys, or do dishes. 

2. DO SOMETHING. For real. Get up and doing anything. 

3. Know that coming home is no longer a peaceful environment. Work may be done, but now your job starts. Dad time. Take the kid from mom and let her do something else. This is the best part of the day. You get to swoop in and be the hero AND spend time with your awesome little kid. 

4. Talk to your spouse. This can mean a few different things. a) Be a grown up human that they can talk to because they have been starving for adult interaction for a while now. b) Figure out what they need. What is most helpful in your situation? Everyone has a different setup going, so find what they think is the most helpful. 

On Identity

Today I ran 3 miles, and this is what I looked like at the end. And these weren’t fast miles, these were grueling I-think-I-might-die-this-is-so-slow miles. Pre-pregnancy, I would have whipped these out like it was no big deal, yet now I am so out of shape. Let me be honest and say that this is discouraging. I never realized that this ability was something I prided myself in; something that I felt made me who I am. This realization hit me one day last week while I was running dying, and all I could think was “dear God, don’t let anyone I know see this”. Being in shape was just another silly item on a long list of things that I felt made me who I am, where my identity lied. I can’t help but wonder why it is so hard to let go of past expectations and to settle into a new you? When we go through a major life change (or a not so major change), such as having a baby, or getting a new job, or getting married, or starting at a new school, or fill in the blank here, we are often left wondering “who am I now?” Somewhere in the midst of all of the change, we suddenly realize that this thing we are letting go of somehow became our identity. This thing was our defining factor. So we struggle, we cry, we raise our fists, all because we no longer know who we are. But life doesn’t have to be this way; we don’t have to walk through life constantly looking for something or someone – whether that be running, or our husbands, or our job, or fill in the blank here – to tell us who we are.

As a new mom, we are constantly saying things like:

“I just don’t feel like myself”

“I want to be known as more than just a mother”

“I don’t feel pretty/sexy/cute”

“All I ever do is take care of the baby”

I know I’ve been guilty of saying things like this; don’t get me wrong, transitioning into a role where you are responsible for keeping another human alive is hard. However, I can’t help but think that we make this even harder on ourselves by failing to recognize where our worth and identity should be coming from. When we place our value and the weight of who we are on people, roles, or things, we are setting ourselves up for a life of hurt and discontentment. We were not made to live a life defined by other people or worldly things. We were created to find our value and worth in our Creator. Ladies, let me just confess right here that I am preaching to the choir. The Lord is constantly showing me layers upon layers of false identity in my life – from my role as a teacher, to being a good wife, to having the ability to run far distances, and on and on and on. How do I know this? Because I find myself being consistently stressed or disappointed in these areas, no matter what they look like. I feel unloved if my husband doesn’t pay what I feel is enough attention to me (and if you know Z, you know he is pretty much the most attentive husband that has ever existed). I feel unproductive because I am no longer a teacher. I feel embarrassed because I’m not as in shape as I used to be. When we find ourselves discontent in multiple areas of our lives, maybe the issue isn’t our circumstances…. maybe the issue is us.

So what do we do about this? How can we fix this? I can’t say for sure, but here are three things I am trying to do:

-Reset your focus. If we aren’t in the Word, how can we ever expect to center our worth on who God says we are? Simply put: we can’t. Listen y’all, I know this can be a struggle. We’re all busy, and there’s never enough time in the day. But if we want to live content and full lives, meeting with our Creator has got to quit being the first thing that goes when life gets crazy.

-Become a servant. If we feel unproductive and directionless because we don’t know what our role is in this world, then maybe we should start finding ways to serve others. Write a sweet note to your husband each day, send a kind text to a friend, volunteer in your community. I’ve found that when we spend our time focusing on making others feel important, we suddenly feel more valuable as well.

-Give yourself a break. If you’ve just gone through some sort of life change (or if you went through a life change 6 years ago and still haven’t gotten it all figured out) – or if you just don’t feel like yourself these days – then take a deep breath. We aren’t expected to figure everything out right away, and we sure aren’t expected to be perfect. We have a God who even cares for the birds and the lilies; I think He’s more than capable of caring for us.

February Must Haves

I don’t know about you, but if a friend tells me about something they can’t get enough of I just have to try it (unless it’s food that sounds gross, then I just don’t even pretend to be interested). I’m always looking for new things to read, places to go, clothes that will look good, and on and on. So I’ve decided that each month, I’ll share 5 must have items. At least one will be a book, the rest will be random. Here are 5 things I can’t get enough of this month:
#1: Walmart grocery pickup
As a new mom, going to the grocery store is a whole thing. Do I take the baby? Do I leave her with dad? Can I squeeze in a quick trip in between feedings and naps? Walmart grocery gets rid of most of those issues for me. All I do is order my groceries online and then drive to the store. They do literally everything else — get the things, load the things, they even bring you goodies sometimes. It’s incredible. If you haven’t tried it, you should. The only downside is this does take some planning ahead, you have to schedule your pickup usually a day ahead of time. Still worth it though. If you’ve never tried it before, use this code to get $10 off your first order.
#2: Lularoe tights
Let me be clear here and say that I am in the “tights are not pants” camp. They’re just not pants, end of story. But as long as your little hiney is covered, then I say wear all the tights. I recently discovered Lularoe tights, and now I want to just live in them. These pants have cute and funky patterns, and are the most comfortable I’ve ever worn. Imagine your favorite pajamas, and multiply that by at least 2. That’s how comfy these tights are, and I don’t even feel like I’m overselling them. You have to buy them from a representative, check my girls out here and here.
#3: H-E-B Texas pecan coffee
If you like coffee, you need to try this kind. I’ll just say this: my in laws don’t have H-E-B, so we legitimately “import” it to them every time we go visit. It’s the best.
Lightweight, adorable, fun. These earrings are made of leather, and dress up even the grungiest tee shirt. On days where I want to feel cute, I put these on.
We take care of our bodies. We exercise, try to eat well, get enough sleep, etc. but do we take the time to take care of our souls? In this book, Judah Smith looks at what it is our souls really need. It’s a must read.
What are you reading? What are some things you can’t get enough of? I’d love to hear…maybe your suggestion will end up in next month’s must haves!

Lessons from Motherhood

Let me just start by saying that sweet RJ is only 3 months old. So I’m very new to this gig, and by no means an expert. But I’m learning, each and every day. As with all worthwhile things, some days I knock it out of the park, and other days I come up short. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned:

#1: Time is valuable.

Whether you look at your baby and think “how can you be rolling over already? Weren’t you just born 2 days ago?” (RJ is not rolling over yet, but I’m sure I’ll think this when she actually does) Or “good Lord I’ve been rocking the baby for over and hour and I just want to sit on the couch and watch This Is Us. Why are you not sleeping?”, there’s no way to deny it. Having a tiny human makes us recognize the significance of every moment.

#2: No one should have to do this alone.

All my single mamas out there, kudos to you. I don’t know how you do it, but I tip my hat. Sometimes, though, you just need a helper. Someone to take the baby when she’s cried for what feels like eternity and you’re just done, someone to get you water when you’re nursing and feel as if you’ve been in the Sahara, someone to tell you “hey, you’re doing a great job”, someone to change that poopy diaper because you’ve seen all the bodily fluids you can handle in a day. If you don’t have a cheerleader, have your people call my people. We’re all in this together.

#3: Our plans are garbage.

Have I mentioned before that I didn’t mean to have a baby? Z and I thought we would start our family in a few years. We had plans and adventures to accomplish. Throughout my pregnancy, I struggled with why God would change the trajectory of my life. But looking at RJ now, I realize that our plans are often garbage in comparison to what God has for us. So if your life doesn’t look the way you thought it would, take heart. I’m sure that God is at work.

#4: My husband is not the enemy.

Repeat this with me. And when the baby is having a meltdown, just say it over and over in your head. Maybe it’ll sink in someday. Can anyone tell me why this one is so hard? Z is my number one fan and helper, and yet he’s the one who gets all my crap when I get stressed. Not fair.

#5: Exercise. We need it.

We may not realize it, but every mama needs a break. And you know what? That doesn’t make you a bad mom. Go for a quick run, take a walk around the block, do anything to just get away from your people for even 15 minutes. It helps. Also, baby weight. It’s the worst. I believe that we should get to have a normal body once baby is born…I mean, you just birthed a child for crying out loud. But alas, this is not how the world works. Do you know what does help with those pesky extra pounds? Exercise. In the wise words of Elle Woods, “Exercise give you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t”. (See above lesson. Don’t kill your husband.)

#6: Those hippie snake oils.

Baby won’t poop? There’s an oil for that. Worried about flu season? There’s an oil for that, too. Baby won’t sleep? Grab the oils. I know it sounds crazy, but I swear they work. There’s a marked difference in RJ’s sleep when we use them, praise Jesus hallelujah. (Feel free to reach out to me if you want  to know more).

#7: IT’S SO WORTH IT.

Need I say more?