I 1. Being a good mom doesn’t mean necessarily being prepared for every situation, despite what my first attempts at a diaper bag might have reflected. Instead, it’s finding a way to roll with the situation and lowering your own expectations for yourself. It’s taking a deep breath and saying, “Yeah, it’s fine. She can just wear her diaper home.” It’s fashioning umbrellas out of blankets that have been in your car since the Clinton administration. It’s making a toy out of old receipts and a zipper. That’s being a good mom.
2. . 2. Be positive to other parents, especially new ones. Even though you are tempted to say something snarky to people that are expecting or that have a newborn about how hard it is, don’t. Ever. There is no couple in the world that wants to hear, “Oh, just wait. You’ll never sleep again!” in response to, “We’re having a baby!” By the same token, telling someone you were up at 1, 3, 5, and 7 a.m. does not always warrant a, “Welcome to motherhood!” comment. I’m not sure why anyone thinks these are helpful, nice, or even appropriate things to say and yet, every single day new parents hear them. Instead, offer help or words of encouragement. That’s usually what we’re all looking for at times when we’re all feeling down, aren’t we?
3. 3. Sleeping in until 11 a.m. IS kind of a waste of the day. I can’t remember the last time I did it and I know I would feel guilty if I did. Don’t get me wrong, I love sleeping with a passion that has only begun to burn ever since my daughter was born. But sleep really isn’t everything, and sometimes being tired is worth the quiet time you are awarded at night because you cleaned the house all morning.
4. 4. The entire dynamic of your day to day changes dramatically when you become a parent in ways you can’t even imagine until you there, including how /when you take a shower, the time and manner in which you dress yourself and wear your hair, the order in which you eat your food at dinnertime, how often and quickly you can manage to pee throughout the day, and even where you store your paper towels. This is amusing at best, challenging usually, and occasionally frustrating and upsetting.
5. 5. Being a mom means sacrifice. You no longer have some of the luxuries you had pre-motherhood, like the time you’d need to give yourself a manicure and let the polish completed dry, the ability to “just run in” to any store, or the ability to eat your meal while it’s still hot from start to finish without having to get up or feed someone else for 15 minutes. Those sacrifices are real. But they are truly nothing compared to the indescribable gains that you cannot get from anywhere else. The warmth of a strong hug, the pride in watching your child demonstrate their ability to do something that YOU taught them to do, and the love that exudes from every attempt at saying “Mama” they give you are worth every single sleepless night and cold hamburger.