Those of us who have been parents for a few years have an interesting perspective and might find ourselves laughing at obvious first-timers. It’s even more fun after you have a half dozen kids, like me. Parenting styles and techniques change rather dramatically over the years. I love when I see novice parents doing some of the funny stuff I did, like reading to their belly, playing the baby Mozart before he or she is even born, or putting those backpack leashes on their toddler (we had the monkey). Silly stunts aside, I did make some ridiculous mistakes you shouldn’t repeat. Here are a half dozen parenting goose eggs to avoid:
I listened to everyone else and believed what I read
While reading books (yeah the internet wasn’t quite what it is now back in 1998) is smart and advisable, they can be a source of worry or even false information (you mean everything on the internet is not true?) Make a list of questions and ask your doctor or midwife. They can provide you with reliable content if you want to read further.
I didn’t trust my gut
I know everyone is not born with a highly tuned maternal instinct. However, when you become a mom, a change does take place, even in adoption situations. This new person relies upon you to meet every physical and emotional need. Mom is often closely in tune to the unique needs of her baby. I didn’t always trust my gut back then, but life has taught me that lesson over and over again. If you feel it, believe it.
I took it all so personal
New moms are really emotional. Blame it on hormones, fear of the unknown, self-doubt, whatever, but it’s real. I took every comment from family, friends and strangers to heart. Naturally, none of them really meant any harm with their comments, advice or questions. You gotta get a thick skin when you become a mom. People judge. They don’t have filters. Live your best life and be your best you. Nobody is perfect and you don’t have to be perfect.
I judged my own parenting
Sure I read every night, said prayers, sang songs, went to church, but I had plenty of room for improvement. In fact, I still do, even though my oldest will be 19 very soon! When you’re good at something, share it. When you need to grow, look for tools to help you grow. As I have matured (like that?), I often take a self-deprecating tone because I believe humility opens hearts and minds. My own mother has corrected me and told me that I am a great mom, not perfect, but great.
I forgot to stop and smell the roses
Everyone told me time flies. It’s true how when we’re young, we can’t wait to get older and when we’re older, we wish we were younger. I will say that I did not stop enough during that first year to take it all in, to be thankful, to enjoy the peace and quiet of just one child. I did take her everywhere with me, but I started to forget who Joan, just Joan, wanted to be when she grew up. I have since rediscovered that girl, but I wish I had nurtured her just a bit more along the way. I am not advising you to be selfish, but getting a sitter or having live-in help does not mean you are a failure. It actually gives you a little more time to stop and smell the roses, and teach your kids to do the same.
I decided to be the working mom and let him be the sahd
Hindsight is 20/20 – it’s true. Now that I am a work-from-home-mom, and rather surprised at how much I love it, I cannot believe I gave away that opportunity with my first child, or my second, third or fourth! Working and focusing on my career had its rewards, but the rewards of being a parent are far, far greater than any paycheck. Yes, I loved teaching and miss knowing hundreds of children in my community. Perhaps that day will come again in the future. For now, I advise you to let your spouse bring home the bacon if at all possible. I don’t care if that sounds sexixt – I have a job and I love it. But I can speak from personal experience that being flexible enough to volunteer and be there for my kids in invaluable.
Okay, lesson learned. Now go make your own mistakes, just learn from them and be open to learning more about yourself each year. Love your kids, do something fun with them, love yourself, do something fun for yourself too. Decide that less is more and really get your parenting priorities straight in 2017. Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran, we’re all the learning curve. Keep an open mind, trust yourself and have fun!