A few months ago, you asked me what my best parenting advice for you would be as you await the arrival of your first child. And for some reason on THAT night, all I could offer you were comical warnings of what to savor now…like going out to eat without a time limit or peeing by yourself without an audience.
And while that stuff IS definitely true. None of that is what I really want you to know about motherhood. So here, sweet sister, is what I wish I would have said that night. Here, dear sister, is what I really want you to know about becoming a parent.
What I want you to know is that from the moment your child is placed in your arms, you will be filled with a love so strong, you may feel unsure as to how and handle it. And in that moment, you may find yourself scared as you feel like you are falling. And you are. Falling madly in love, that is. But don’t let the fall scare you. Just embrace it.
Because that scary and immense love you feel is what will build up your strength for the journey ahead. A journey where there is no looking back. Only forward. Or down at your baby’s face. And I guarantee. You won’t want to turn away. So don’t. Just stare. They change by the day. EVERYTHING else can wait.
What I want you to know is that everyone will be quick to offer you advice. And while I think making friends with other parents is probably one of the smartest things you will ever do, remember that with your own baby, you get to do what works for YOU. Take advice when you want it. And never feel bad when you don’t. Mother knows best. The end.
What I want you to know is that you will suddenly find the meaning of selflessness. You will notice that your needs just dropped a wrung on the ladder. Making yourself happy becomes intertwined with making your child happy. Anything they need from you…your milk. Your warmth. Your time. Your sleep. Your heart. You’ll give it. And give. It’s natural.
What I want you to know is that you are going to experience joy like you’ve never imagined. Joy when you watch them learn new things. Simple little things that to the average person would not have meaning. Watching them learn to speak, feed themselves, ride a bike, hit a ball, or play some imaginary game that you once played as a child will make you well up with a sense of happiness where you feel like you might burst. And you might. So smile to prevent from bursting.
What I want you to know is that you’re going to lose control. You will lose control of being able to manage your days. Your moods, your whims, your needs will no longer dictate how your day goes. Somebody else’s moods and whims will, which means some days you’re going to feel like you’re riding a bull and everything will feel totally out of your control. And in that moment, hang on tight. And enjoy the ride. It will not last forever.
What I want you to know is that you will feel brave. Braver than you ever imagined. The thought of something hurting them. A car hitting them. An illness sweeping over them. You will feel strength to step in the street and push a car away. With no thought as to your own pain. Only the prevention of pain for them. You are mama bear. And you will roar.
What I want you to know is that you will feel pushed. You will pushed beyond anything you ever knew to expect. You will come home from work exhausted and stressed. And that will be the night your child has one meltdown after another meltdown after another. And you will feel at your wit’s end. But somewhere deep inside you, I promise you will find the strength to pull through in that moment. You will sing a song. You will read a book. You will end that night smiling. And you will amaze yourself that you did it. Then you will crash. Possibly next to them in bed.
What I want you to know is that you’re going to think your child is the cutest. You’re going to think they are the smartest. You’re going to think they are capable of anything. And they are. Don’t stop believing that. Be their biggest fan. Their encourager. In life, they will be humbled. Others will tell them they aren’t great. So they need a #1 fan. Be it. And cheer as loud as you can.
What I want you to know is that you will mess up. You will. You won’t always talk nicely. You won’t always handle tense situations in the way you had planned. You might say some things you regret. And when you do mess up, no need to sit and dwell. Go grab them, look them in the eyes, sincerely apologize, and then move on with your day. They will forgive you. Just like you forgive them.
What I want you to know is there will be times where you feel at a complete loss. There will be times where they are in a phase that isn’t easy. And you will have tried every solution you know to try. And you will still feel like nothing is working. And the only thing you need to know in that moment, is that at SOME point, they will outgrow it. But until they do, remember. This too shall pass.
What I want you to know is you will feel loved unlike anything you could imagine. You will feel like a famous celebrity in your own home. As mom, their need and dependence on you is constant. You are the one that meets their needs. And they trust you. And that trust is beautiful. And constant. And tiring sometimes. So when you are tired, look at their face, and remember how privileged you are to hold their trust.
What I want you to know is you will find strength you never knew you had. When you find yourself sick with the flu laying on the floor of your bathroom at 1 am puking your guts out and you hear a little voice yell out, “Mommy, I’m sick,” you will notice that somehow beyond everything you knew was in you, you will be able to get up off that floor, find a bucket and go hold their hair as they puke.
What I want you to know is that you will not love every minute of motherhood. You will not. And that does not make you a bad mom. That makes you a human. So in those moments when you aren’t enjoying yourself, just know, you aren’t alone. And to get the sweet, the sour moments have to come along too. So pucker up and laugh. Laugh every moment you can.
But above all things, what I want you to know is this.
You got this. And you will do great.
And because he has you as a mom,
He will be GREAT one day too.
Your Little Sis
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2 thoughts on “What I Want You to Know About Becoming a Parent”
Great letter to your sister about what it will be like to be a parent. Really true and so well written. I was touched.
Just wanted to send a note and say so…
Thank you, Jen!