The moment I whispered the words, “I’m pregnant,” I was bombarded by loads of unsolicited advice. I was shocked by the number of stranger “belly rubs” and random people approaching me at Target curious of my plans to breast or bottle feed?
Everyone has a thought or opinion on how to do this parenting thing and specifically moms seem to hear the most chatter on how to raise the best baby on the block. I too carried my own thoughts on how I hoped things might go…but there were SO many choices! Pre-baby I wondered: Would we find out the sex or keep it a surprise? Would I breast or bottle feed? Deliver naturally or take drugs? Would we have the baby sleep with us in the hospital room or send her to the nursery? Would I use cloth diapers or make my own baby food? Would we encourage a pacifier or allow the thumb? What about co-sleeping? Would we attend to his cries at night or let him cry it out? Would we leave the baby with a sitter or take her with us wherever we went? Any one of these answers was connected to a passionate friend, neighbor or author who would “lovingly” lead me to believe my babies’ entire life would be turned upside down if I did or did not do the above mentioned items. Sweet new mother– take heart. There is WAY more gray (and grace) to this mommy thing than we are led to believe!
Instead of stressing my opinion on the baby minutia and choosing the “perfect” mom route; my strongest encouragement today would be to do the last little bits of pre-baby stuff that you can while you can, with no baby. Here’s my top 10 list for mommy’s to be:
1. Go on lots of dates with your hubby and try NOT to talk about the color of the nursery.
2. Enjoy your body…don’t fight it. There is something super cool and miraculous happening. Step AWAY from the scale.
3. Sleep. Enough said–trust me on this and try to sleep.
4. Pee in peace. You won’t for another 12+ years.
5. Read a book in an area of interest that is not mommy related.
6. Shower. Shower long, shower often. Take a bubble bath! You’ll understand more once the little one has made his or her grand entrance. SHOWER.
7. Did I mention go on dates? Discuss his love for literature or your love for music. Don’t discuss baby names.
8. Go to coffee (or whatever hot beverage you are drinking these days) with a girlfriend. Look her in the eyes, enjoy the fact that you are not wiping a bottom or a nose in that moment. Laugh. Linger.
9. Sit and be still…enjoy the quiet. Journal. Enjoy the quiet.
10. Go to your favorite swanky spot…you will go back there someday…but it might be later rather than sooner…so go and appreciate that it is swanky and you are swanky.
Because you are a great mom and care about the growth and development of your child I am certain you will do the research, prepare and pray. Don’t hold too tightly to the plans. (We will talk about being flexible tomorrow.) Others will have strong recommendations on what to read, what to buy, and how to structure the next 18 years of life. Your heart is undoubtedly devoted and your body is committed to this next endeavor. Relish the things you won’t have the luxury to do the way you do them now–certainly not uninterrupted. Don’t wish away but treasure the last few pre-baby months.
More importantly…prayerfully listen to your mommy intuition. The more babies I had the more I realized there is a lot more gray in the life of new moms. Don’t let the voices of well-intentioned friends, family, or neighbors take you down roads of guilt and shame over the decision to breast or bottle feed or whether or not the baby sleeps on his back or stomach. Don’t let books, play dates or preschool moms make you feel that if your child is not reading by age 3, they will likely be held back a few grades. Don’t let over-achieving moms full of pintrest perfect ideas make you feel “less than” as a mom. Do your best to say a big NO to those crazy voices. Learning to lean on more intuition and less perfection will lead to a healthy gray and less black and white mommy world.
There is way more gray and way more grace in this mommy gig.
May You Be a Blessing and KNOW you are a Good Mom!