Motherhood is messy. It is. It just is.
And I’m not talking, gross out the grandparents because your baby has peanut butter smeared from head to toe, messy.
Or even, gross out your husband because your shirt has had a mix of pee, puke, and boogers on it for more hours than you’d like to admit, messy.
I’m talking the rough; raw; think you finally figured it out, just to have your world turned upside-down again; some days it feels like everyday you really don’t have your $#*% together, messy.
Take this photo for example. It seems fine enough (minus the jerry-rigged tent/fort contraption.) But zoom in on the real life behind that photo.
If you could flip the camera, you would notice the mama taking this photo is sick as a dog, curled up in a ball, because all she wants to do is sleep. But, she is currently “playing” with her son outside— where he is most easily pacified.
She also continues to push the dog’s butt down for the picture, so he looks like he’s just relaxing comfortably.
There’s a reason for this. I’ll get to that.
If the baby in this photo turned his head, you would see a large imprint on his forehead, which, strangely enough, mirrors the coffee table. This is because, earlier in the day, in another ball on a different floor, this mama thought it was cute to let her baby pull himself up on his own, but didn’t have enough sense to position him so that if he slipped, he wouldn’t fall and ricochet his soft little dome off of the sharply edged coffee table.
And finally, if you take a closer look, you’ll see the mama’s Hydro Flask, as well as some lemons, resting on the chair that’s holding up the tent/fort.
Well, moments before, just as the mama was about to take the actual peaceful photo, a large gust of wind came along and blew the chair over! Thankfully, it fell in the dog’s direction, who was able to scamper away to safety; versus the baby’s direction, who didn’t budge, but rather, stared up joyfully dumbfounded.
So, did this mama whisk her babies away to safety? Nope. Instead she reached for the heaviest things she could find in the backyard, (her Hydro Flask and some over sized lemons) then proceeded to coax the dog back in order to re-create the moment for a picture.
And that’s Monday.
I won’t get into how the reason this tent/fort exists is because the week before, the mama thought that 30 minutes in the sun would be fine, only to leave her baby with a ring of sunburn around his shoulders where his bucket hat did not cover.
Or how on Saturday, she did not stop Grandpa from letting the wobbly 6 month old sit on top of a box, which ended, as you would expect.
Or how on Friday, the toilet overflowed, so this mama left the baby alone on the bed, to discover, yes indeed, he does know how to wiggle himself, headfirst, off of the bed.
In order to protect the innocent, (and the oh, so guilty,) we will keep the names of this mama and her baby undisclosed.
::This is where I let out a LARGELY needed sigh!::
Can I please give 3 pieces of advice to new & soon-to-be parents?
- Parenthood is messy.
- When a baby becomes mobile, it’s a whole different sport.
- Give yourself grace. You are not alone.
I’ve polled many mothers, and I’ve yet to find one who had a baby that didn’t fall from a high surface.
All in one week, maybe not so much. But, when your baby falls — when, not if! — please take heart! At least you’re not as bad as
me —ehem, the mother in this true story.
The worst part about motherhood is, everybody has an opinion about it. I often find myself comparing my ways with other, more traditional mothers.
“Traditional mothers” is the proper way to refer to them. But if I let that jerk of a voice in my head talk, she’ll calls them:
- More Responsible Mothers
- Less Selfish Mothers
- Mothers Who Plan the Long Term Well-Being of Their Children, Not Just the Present Well-Being, Mothers
- Mothers Who Have Their $#*% Together
- Mothers Who Know What the Heck They Are Doing
- Mothers Who Don’t Take 3 Tequila Shots and Then Nurse Their Babies Nightly
Ok, now that last one is just ridiculous.
You know what?
THEY ALL ARE RIDICULOUS!
Not a single one of these statements is accurate, yet I let myself believe the top 5 as if they were scientific facts.
We can be so hard on ourselves for not doing it “right”, just because our way of doing it is different from everyone else’s. In reality, you will be hard pressed to find a mom who does everything the way you do.
And as long as you aren’t taking 3 tequila shots before nursing your baby nightly, you are probably on the right course.
Take this short quiz for me:
- Do you always want what is best for your children?
a. YES b. NO
- Do you do anything illegal when it comes to raising your children.
a. NO b. YES
If you answered A, YOU ARE DOING IT RIGHT!
(If you answered B, call me. Let’s talk.)
I read the Message version of this verse the other day, and it slayed me:
“God pays no attention to what others say (or what you think) about you. He makes up his own mind.”
— Romans 2:9-11 MSG
It doesn’t matter if there are some rude other mamas judging you. It definitely doesn’t matter what disparaging lies you tell yourself. If you are doing your best, then you are doing it right.
Here’s a breakdown of my baby raising techniques.
***THESE ARE NOT THE RIGHT WAYS TO RAISE A BABY!***
You know what else? They are also not wrong:
- I breastfeed. I will continue to do so past age 1. Maybe past age 2.
- I don’t use medication.
- I did circumcise.
- I use essential oils topically.
- I don’t always dilute the frankincense.
- I didn’t touch a lick of alcohol while pregnant.
- I definitely drank a fair amount of coffee while pregnant.
- I now drink even more coffee, even though he breastfeeds.
- I do baby led weaning.
- Sometimes I get so excited about food, I mash it up and give it to him myself.
- I cloth diaper.
- I don’t use organic fabric.
- I don’t give my baby sugar.
- I do give my baby peanut butter.
- I don’t let him watch TV.
- I blare show tunes way too loud and dance for him.
- I don’t let him “cry it out.”
- Sometimes I can’t take his tears, so I leave the room he’s crying in to scream in the living room.
- I don’t let him go into the nursery at church, because I want to hold him.
- I took him into a neighborhood dive bar at 1 week because I needed to get out of the house!
- I barely read to him, because I don’t think he likes it.
- I sat him & his food on the floor until we got him a high chair at 7 months
- I let him & the cat cuddle.
- I co-sleep.
- I pump and dump.
- I let him chew on almost anything.
- I take him to church.
- I pray with him (almost) every night.
If you are worried because you don’t know what some of these terms mean, don’t worry! Either it’s not for you, or if it is, you will find out what it is when you need to.
Perhaps each one of these facts make you grimace. Or maybe you relate to most of them. But I can bet there is at least one thing that you differ on.
(If you do feel the exact same on every one of these points, please contact me so we can revel in the strange miracle that we are identical humans. Then we’ll link arms & do-si-do in the fact that we found someone who won’t roll their eyes at the ways we raise our babes!)
I am Arrow’s mom. This is the way I do it. I don’t think I do it right all the time. But the thing is, God entrusted Arrow to me & Jay. No one else.
He trusted that I would raise him the best I know how; not be afraid to ask for advice;
not be afraid to stick to what I believe is right for him.
I think, as mothers, especially first time mothers, we tend to follow one of two paths:
- Believe everything that everyone tells us, and convince ourselves we are doing it wrong.
- Know that we have it all together, and dismiss all advice telling us otherwise.
Neither are right. It’s a balance.
I believe, as women, we must be wired to want to lend our advice if the occasion arises. Why do you think so many of us blog?
As a young mother, I see this a lot from the older generations. All of the mothers of grown babies want to give me advice on what my little guy needs.
My initial reaction is to shout, “You haven’t done this in TWENTY years! I’ve got it under control, thank you!”
But that isn’t very pleasant. Nor is it necessary.
I think we are created to help one another. After all, the organic design of a woman was crafted long before Google or Pinterest transformed us into “The Perfect Mother” without help from our elders.
When someone gives you advice on what to do with your baby, take it!
I’m not saying you have to follow it.
But take it! Graciously and gratefully!
The person giving it to you is (usually) not telling you that you are doing it wrong. They are just offering you words of wisdom that they learned from their go at motherhood.
They would most likely feel terrible if they thought they were offending you.
They are doing it because they care about you, and your little one, and if they can make it any easier, it would give them great joy.
And every now and then, if you let your stubborn, combative self set aside your defensive ways and actually listen to their advice, you might learn something.
And sometimes you may not. Which brings me to my next point.
If someone gives you advice that you don’t agree with, feel uneasy about, or that goes against your intuition… ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR INTUITION!!!
You are the mother of that baby! Nobody else! God entrusted you with each one of your children because your ways, your beliefs, your desires, and your gut feelings are exactly what your baby needs! Don’t deprive your baby of that. And don’t discredit yourself!
“My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck.”
—Proverbs 1:8-9 NLT
That’s how God sees us as parents. We drop some freaking grace and honor on our babes!
You know what’s best. You are doing it right.
If you don’t believe yourself, then listen to me:
Hey, Mama… you’re doing it right! You’ve really got your poop together (pardon my French!)
And there is no better mom in the world for this baby, than you!
I know I’ve posted this one before, but it’s just so juicy! Especially verse 25 💗!
Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character
10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
For the trick that got me out of that nasty cold —confession, I am the mom of the true story listed above!— check out my Immunity Bomb Recipe.