Advice from your Mama

I have a baby that doesn’t sleep. No matter what I’ve tried, no matter what I do, I just can’t get her to be a good sleeper. I’ve read sleep article after sleep article, to no avail. “Give her rice cereal, she’s probably hungry”, my mom said over and over. I brushed it off because nowadays there’s some mixed research on whether or not it’s the best option (and hello I’ve done all my reading so I obviously know everything). The no sleep saga continues. We finally got to the point that we thought “maybe there is some medical issue that is hindering Ruthie’s sleep”. Off we go to the doctor to ensure a clean bill of health. And would you guess what the doctor ordered? Rice. Cereal. (Insert eye roll about how I had to call my mom and tell her she was right all along). Oh how I wish I had just listened to my mother. Fast forward a couple of weeks — it hasn’t helped, but I have learned a lesson. There’s a reason God gave us moms, and they have some sage advice. Maybe we should listen to our mamas a little bit more. So I did some research, and here’s advice from some mamas who I know and trust. Some of it is serious, some comical, some spiritual. Do with it what you will…or don’t.

#1: “When they fall at the park, DO NOT make eye contact!  If there is no audience to the fall, they will usually just get right back up.  But if they know you saw it the tears will start.  And the wailing.  And the “Pick me up and carry me because now I have a boo boo”.  Just look away, Mama.  Look.  Away.”

#2: “Put your phone down! They will not stay little for long. Pay attention to them and talk to them. And lock the bathroom door!”

#3: “Give yourself grace! It’s a season.”

#4: “Take the real small play doh container, like you put in party treat bags, to restaurants with you. After they eat, let them make peas, worms, whatever while parents enjoy eating. Be sure to clean it all up for waiters.”

#5: “Your mom is a very valuable tool. Next to your doctor, your greatest source of information. She knows you AND your baby. Your own instincts and her experience make a great team. When in doubt, pick up the phone and call mom!”

#6: “My toddler poured my coffee in the fish tank last week while I was feeding the dog. Enjoy the baby stage.”

#7: “Don’t compare yourself with other moms that look like they have it all together. They are just better at faking it than you are.”

#8: “When they’re older, remind them that you love them so much that when they were little you caught their vomit in your hands. Bonus points if you do it in front of their friends.”

#9: “Enjoy every moment with them and don’t feel like you have to be super mom, super wife or have a perfect house.”
#10: “You will mess up!  It will be okay and they won’t remember. Just don’t make it a habit.”

#11: “Simply laugh.”

Man oh man, how all of these words ring true. I am going to strive to live like these mamas (who know far more than I) suggest. I hope you will, too!

What is the best mama advice you’ve received?

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The Hardest Part of Motherhood

“Motherhood is tough”.

“I never knew this season would be so hard”.

“Raising babies/toddlers/kids/teenagers is the hardest thing I’ve ever done”.

“I wasn’t prepared for this”.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard one of these lines. Raise two hands if you’ve ever said one of these lines. There’s no denying it — being a mama can be tough. In the best, most incredible, love filled way, motherhood stretches us. Most days it leaves us tired and needing a shower. At the end of the day yesterday, I had dealt with 7 different types of bodily fluids (number 1, number 2, drool, spit up, sweat, snot, and baby tears). But these things we think of — the yucky stuff, the sleep deprivation, the fill in the blank — these aren’t what make being mommy hard. These are just pieces to the puzzle. No, the hardest part of motherhood is that it strips away our selfishness.

As a mama, it is our job to care for another human. A very needy, very adorable human who doesn’t know how to do anything on their own yet. We feed them, bathe them, rock them, and snuggle them (and enjoy every second of it). But at the end of the day, we’re often left wondering, “do I ever get a break?” or “why do I have to do ALL of the work around here” or “what about me?”. And these are hard thoughts. These thoughts (and others like it) leave us feeling guilty and inadequate. On one hand, we feel justified in these thoughts because “hello, I’m obviously carrying the team here”. But on the other hand, we know in our hearts our attitude is wrong. These thoughts give us a glimpse at our selfish nature. (Now don’t get me wrong, it’s totally healthy for moms to take a break. It’s not the thought that’s wrong…it’s our heart behind it). They show us that we weren’t meant to do this alone, and that we need more of Jesus and less of us. Motherhood is hard because it is a constant reminder that “love is not selfish”. Repeat after me. LOVE. IS. NOT. SELFISH. Some days, I repeat this non stop.

When the baby wakes up in the middle of the night and I don’t want to get out of my warm, cozy bed. Love is not selfish.

When I find myself envious of the fact that my husband gets to do “whatever he wants” (yeah right, parenthood affects these daddies just as much). Love is not selfish.

When I get frustrated because the baby is crying for what feels like the 24380714380th time. Love is not selfish.

Motherhood is tough for so many reasons. But I honestly think the hardest part is the each day, we are challenged to die to ourselves. As humans, that’s rough. It involves growing pains, and nobody likes those. But we can find encouragement in this — if motherhood is stripping off our selfishness, then motherhood makes us more like Jesus.

So how do we submit to this? How do we accept this new normal?

-Choose to serve: instead of worrying about how hard motherhood is, what would happen if we made it our goal to make our husbands life easier? What if we chose to love our husbands by protecting their sleep, or facilitating time for them to play with baby?

-Take a break: seriously. Set aside 15 minutes each day that is yours. Run, bathe, read, watch YouTube cat videos, dance, eat cheesy nachos. I don’t care what it is. But do something for 15 minutes that is just for you.

-Pursue community: listen y’all. Satan wants you to believe that you are in this alone. He wants us to think that we are the only person who has ever walked this path or that nobody will understand us or that nobody cares how we feel. DON’T BELIEVE THESE LIES. Surround yourself with people who care about you and will speak Truth into your life. We need people who will help us along this path of sanctification.

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.