Dear New Mom,
Welcome to the club, mama! I know it seems unfair to give you a homework assignment when you are horrifically sleep deprived, extremely emotional and likely covered in bodily fluids from your bundle of joy, but I swear that this very brief assignment will be worthwhile.
Write down your hopes and dreams for your child. Put the list away somewhere safe, but accessible, and let it guide you throughout the next decade.
Also, be guided but what is NOT on that list. I think it's a safe bet that the list will not include being among the first children in the playgroup to walk, will not list a specific preschool they must attend, and will not include straight As in school.
These are all things that are common worries for parents, and yet in the scheme of things, they aren't hugely important.
When you get really upset about something pertaining to your child, check the list. If it's not on the list, chances are, it's all gonna be okay in the end.
I'm not saying that there won't be moments worthy of angst, or that school projects and math homework won't drive you to tears, never mind your child. But even if your offspring isn't a fractions whiz on the first go around, it is absolutely still possible for them to be a happy, productive member of society who feels very loved - the very thing you hoped they would be when you first laid eyes on those adorable cheeks.
Some of the best advice I got was that children will reach their milestones, and they will grow up, and they will more likely than not be okay and no amount of worrying about when my child would walk, read, etc. made a bit of difference.
I feel like sometimes people equate worry and upset with good parenting. They're wrong. That's not to say that there isn't a lot in this world to cause consternation about our children's future, but worrying rarely changes anything.
By all means, there will be times when your mama bear ferocity is absolutely called for, but there are other times when it is wise to sit back and let whatever will be, be. That's really freaking hard, but you can do it.
Life is not always fair, and as much as we want to make it so for our children, that's a lesson that's best learned early. Allow them to learn it.
In short, mama, pick your battles. Choose wisely. And when in doubt, follow my favorite parenting advice from wise sea turtle Crush to Marlon, the worrywart father, in Finding Nemo: "Kill the motor, dude."
Have faith that you've armed the child with the skills needed to thrive, no matter the obstacle. And there will be obstacles, accidents and problems, but in the past 11+ years of parenting, I've learned that my worrying both failed to prevent any of them, and was a useless expenditure of energy.
When you take a deep breath, step back from the angst and just give your little one your love. He or she will likely amaze you.
We don't have to make the world perfect for our children to realize their potential.
That often happens in adversity, in the face of unfairness, when they know that they have their mom's unconditional love to support them through everything.
There is always going to be something to angst about, and frankly breast vs. bottle will soon be replaced with "we need to talk about sexting," which was our dinner conversation topic tonight.
(Two things on that: the good was that the conversation went well and we laughed. Bad: I'm now wondering if it's really, really bad that the sexting conversation included laughter and worried that she completely missed the gravity of the situation. So see, there's always going to be something hard.)
There is so, so, SO much good that comes with parenting. And by good, I mean moments that suck the breath right out of you with wonder, seconds of joy that are pure magic and times when you are certain that you will burst with pride (I've honestly wondered who would clean up the mess because I was certain I would be unable to contain my feelings for this child).
There will be moments of unspeakable awesomeness, and they will come with the every day, the ordinary, the times you least expect them.
Remember that moment when you first saw that little one who is now yours. Hold on to that awesomeness, hold to the hopes you have for them, and let the rest of it fall by the wayside. Your child will amaze you. Don't be so busy worrying or fretting that you miss those times.
With all the faith in the world in you,
You can see what my 11 year-old thinks new moms need to know here.
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