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After over 27 years of being a mommy to 4 precious children and just having entered my first year of being “Bama” to the cutest grandson in the world, I was thinking back over my mommy-ing years this week with Mother’s Day approaching.  How I would have loved to have known a few more things than I did then!  If I could write a letter to my nearly 22 year-old self here’s what I would tell her.  If you are a new mommy or even a seasoned one, please consider this letter penned to your heart as well.

“Dear New Mommy,

As you know, the child you are being entrusted with won’t come with a manual.  It comes with several things though: basic human needs; the ability to cry, eat, and poop like nothing you’ve ever seen before; a will that will at times set your teeth on edge and often make you just as proud; and the ability to wrap a grown adult around its tiniest of fingers. 

Basically, new mom, you get to figure things out as you go, because what worked for one mother might not work for your child.  And if this is not your first time at motherhood, what worked for your previous children probably can be thrown out the window with the next one’s arrival.  So relax.  You get to learn as you go.  It’s just part of motherhood.

Though I never have and never will figure it all out regarding being a mommy, there are 12 tried and true things I would like to tell you that will work for the majority of children, dare I say, for all children.  Again this list is just the beginning, but hopefully will be a good start for you as you enter this new world.

  1.  Never try this alone! Let others help.  Whether you are married, divorced, or single, don’t attempt mothering alone! Most importantly you need the help of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit….yes, all 3!!  Then you need your spouse if your married, a seasoned woman to give guidance, and a community of like-minded souls to rush to your aid.  If you don’t have these, GET THEM!  These helpers will be as crucial to you as air, water, and food.
  2. Your marriage is still your #1 priority after you have children!  Your child doesn’t BECOME your life; your child becomes PART of your life.  Safeguard your first and most important relationship for the sake of your marriage and the sake of your child.  Healthy parents produce healthy children.  And life will go on after they leave home.
  3. Heart work is hard work!  Motherhood is all about working from the heart.  Everything you do will come straight from the heart and flow into the work at hand.  Check your heart.  Trust your heart.
  4. In the grand scheme of things, a clean house is not all that important.  So much of what you used to hold to a standard of cleanliness can be let go for a while.  If you can’t survive with lowering this standard, ask for help, hire a house keeping service if you can, or learn to overlook the little stuff and focus on that precious child.  Trust me; your house won’t be as clean as you want it until they move out!
  5. When I had toddlers, I survived on two things:  grace and playdough.  The grace was for my child AND myself, the playdough was for their benefit…well mostly.  Some days all we could manage was to shape no less than one thousand playdough worms.  Seriously, grace will cover many mistakes, broken items, short tempers, unwashed hair, unbathed bodies, and remove the guilt of lack of meal planning.  Peanut butter and jelly is now considered a healthy meal and can be served during any time of the day.
  6. Laugh at your mistakes.  You will make many as you navigate being a mommy.  It’s just part of figuring things out, so lighten up on yourself and laugh a little.  Then tackle things again.  You get a do-over, or ten if needed.
  7. If you mess up, apologize to your child.  If you lose your temper, admit it.  Tell your little one you are sorry for your mistake.  You are freeing yourself and modeling great relationship skills early on.  Teach them what it looks like to make wrongs right.
  8. There will be times when frustration threatens to take over.  Walk away….breathe…then take necessary steps to bring correction to your child.  Toddlers are the best at testing parents, so be ready!  Act out of peace and not anger.
  9. Take the time to play with your children at any age.  Often it is so tempting to give them something to entertain themselves while you do what you want or need to do.  And yes, this is necessary at times.  But make sure you take time out from the hectic day-to-day stuff and play with your child.
  10. Sports and activities can be thieves of time and peace.  My boys all played ONE sport each.  That alone was a challenge.  Today’s children are involved in several sports during one season.  They may play baseball and soccer at the same time or take ballet and play basketball simultaneously.  You will overtax yourself as a parent and your children as little people.  IT’S TOO MUCH!  And honestly it’s unnecessary.
  11. Take pictures of them, write down funny things they say, and enjoy the little things in life.  They will remember the moments you hunted for ladybugs or played in the sand box with them over the endless movies or video games they were allowed to watch or play to stay busy.  Photographs and writing down what you want to remember later are great ways to commemorate  their milestones and witty moments that you both will appreciate later in life.
  12. Don’t compare yourself to other mommies.  This is detrimental to who YOU are as a mother.  I used to believe that I needed to grind my wheat, make bread and homemade butter, that I should wear the “mommy uniform,” or make every moment a learning experience.  Twenty-seven years later, I don’t grind my wheat, Wal-mart has butter, my uniform is what happens to be clean and cute, and I prefer fun over teaching though I home-school my kiddos.  The comparison will stop you from being the mommy you need to be to your child.

Finally, dear mommy, you can do this!! You were called to be the mother of your children, not someone else.  It’s the best job on the planet!  Embrace it!

From one seasoned mommy to a new mommy,

Trudy