First, let me say; I remember when I was pregnant, becoming mentally exhausted (and slightly scared) from all the well meaning, but unsolicited, and often unwanted, advice I received. Unfortunately, most of the advice given is scary, negative, old-fashioned and “I know best” kind of advice. I can honestly not remember one person who simply told me how much fun this was going to be. Or, how delivering a baby doesn’t necessarily turn you into a shrieking, husband-hating monster. Everyone is always so happy for you, yet, they can’t come up with one positive thing to say.So, here is what I will want to say (if she asks…) to my future daughter-in-laws about how to survive, enjoy and graduate from motherhood (not that we ever stop being moms)
1. Nourish yourself spiritually, emotionally and physically. You are about to become a mother, don’t lose yourself
While you are trying to become pregnant or are pregnant, pay attention to the little things that nourish you as a woman, a person and a friend and wife. What are the things that make you smile; make you feel happy and fulfilled? Is it time alone with
your spouse and/or friends? Is alone time important to you? Reading? Pick at least one of these and make time for it once the baby has arrived. You can do this AND be a wonderful, committed mother.
Prioritize your health. Learn what you need to about preparing for, pregnancy and recovering post partum. Find and see your local Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist. Learn about the inside of your body and pelvic floor. Do your Kegels and bind your belly immediately post partum.
2. Treasure the moments
If you already have kids I am sure you have already heard advice like “don’t rush through it”, “enjoy, they grow so fast”. I heard it so many times, but still would think: “I wish he would walk soon”, “If only he could talk and tell me what he wants”
I can tell you as someone who has 4 grown children and just moved one of my youngest out – They are right! Enjoy the small moments and the wonder. I know it gets crazy at times with these little, not always cooperating, but adorable people. I now spend a fair bit of time reminiscing and enjoying those memories in my mind. You see, I listened to that advice, but not well enough. I really tried to still my day and sit down with my boys and just enjoy the story they were telling, the cuddle or simply watching them do their thing quietly, but I worried about my house-work too. Now that they are older I still look for any opportunity to sit down and enjoy time with my boys.
3. Parent in a way that feels right for you and your partner.
I figured out early on that I really only wanted to ask for and listen to advice from certain friends/family members, namely, those with similar parenting beliefs and philosophies. So, I rarely give advice, unless asked. And I never asked for advice except from those specific moms. That way you are not getting judged simply for asking and you don’t have to listen to advice you have no intention of following. Except for from your mother and mother-in-law of course, because they will give you advice whether you want it or not. Just listen, smile and nod…and then erase from your memory so it doesn’t sneak up on you in a weak moment 😉
4. Prioritize your marriage/relationship
Your marriage comes first! You got together and had a family for a reason, now you owe it not only to yourselves, but to your children to make this work. I am divorced, and I can honestly say, there is no hockey game or practice, ballet recital, or homework assignment that is more important than that. Parenting and maintaining your relationship are two equally important entities. Obviously you will meet your children’s basic needs of life and much more. Make it just as important to do something for your relationship with your spouse every day. It can be really small like sitting down for 5 minutes together – alone and just being together; a kiss and a hug at the end of every day; a sweet text to say you are thinking of each other. And yes, schedule date nights – often, even if that simply means going to bed early and not watching television… 😉
5. Be a mother, not a friend to your children
I too often hear mothers brag about how they are “best friends” with their daughter. It is great if you are close and share and talk to each other openly, but your daughter is not your bff, nor are you hers. Being a mother is a true privilege and pleasure and a very unique place in life. You are a confidant, advisor and the one who loves them without condition or limitation. With you they are completely safe. Safe to be wrong, inconsiderate, apologetic, remorseful, wonderful, funny, goofy and so much more. There is a life long bond between a mother and child that doesn’t need the tag of “best friends” to have meaning. Because when we try to be best friends we try not to displease. We don’t say things that might upset or anger them, and thus we stop parenting. It is our job as parents to say the things they don’t want to hear when they need to hear it. It is their friends’ job to cheer them up when you do. My boys don’t think of me as their best friend. I am their mother. I am always there for them and they know that. I am their first call when they need something, or want to share an experience. I feel so lucky to be that. I know one day their wives will take that place, but I also know they will still call me and check in, because that’s what we do.
Oh dear, this ended up being a little longer than I intended it to be, but thank you for sticking with me to the end. I would love to hear from you! What is the one thing you will tell a young mom one day?
With love, Elisabeth
ELISABETH PARSONS is a pro fitness trainer, nutritional counsellor, and lifestyle coach to women. She is a mother of 4 very active boys, and enjoys sharing her life experience and knowledge about adding vitality to your life through healthy, active living.