What I learned as a new mom

Hello my wonderful daughters. I wanted to share with you today some of the intangible things I had no idea motherhood would bring. I love you.

1. Motherhood brings clarity. My pre-baby days were carried out without much reflection. Having you ignited this lacking reflection. Thinking about what I hoped for you and your life put unimportant things in their proper place. Extra bedtime cuddles to showcase my unconditional love for you took priority over lights-out stringency. Desiring you to see the best in people and the world required me to re-examine my own jadedness. Motherhood has brought a heightened understanding of the irreplaceability of time . . . and with it, the desire to spend it on only those things that truly matter.

2. Patience really means resilience, determination and a long-term view. Of course, I had heard that you need to be patient with children. What I didn’t realize is that toddler-level patience has its own category. Children start at zero, not just physically, but intellectually and emotionally as well. They have no knowledge of how to regulate emotions like frustration or disappointment (leading to 20-minute crying episodes over things like having the right fork). They have no understanding that glass things break, book cases tip over, stoves are hot and drivers are more distracted than ever. It takes a special kind of foresight to help children learn and grow through these daily challenges without staining them with exasperation.

3. The importance of finding meaning in the redundancy. It’s (so) easy to get fed up with doing the seemingly endless, repetitive and often mindless tasks of mothering (hello dishes, laundry, meal-planning, preparing, feeding, cleaning, repeat). Woven into the redundancy are teaching moments, prayer opportunities and growth potential. Performing mom responsibilities has exponentially grown my patience, humility and ability to love.  I have grown my admiration for Jesus’s mother Mary as I think about her perfect example of service to her family. It’s often in the challenging moments outside any spotlight where God is really going to work in our lives. Have faith that the ground-hog-like days have purpose.

4. People understate when they say moms have the hardest job . . . it’s Hard+. At baseline, it’s extremely tough to demonstrate patience through the long-burn of intellectual and emotional development, and perform the sheer number of thankless tasks as noted above. On top, serious skills are needed. All the things companies seek in their talent: leadership, discipline, agility, ownership, vision, innovation, problem-solving, project & budget management etc. – moms exhibit them all. There is no greater ownership (or stress-inducing pressure) than having complete responsibility for shaping the life of a child. You must have vision for your child’s future. There is great agility in turning plans upside down when inevitable illness and accidents take over. Countless episodes of Shark Tank can attest to a moms ability to problem-solve and innovate. Motherhood is a unique space where doing repetitive, often mindless tasks are married with a need to constantly learn & evolve. And . . . all of it has to be self-directed. It’s Hard+ . . . and it’s worth it.

5. “Treat others as you would like to be treated” has become “treat others as you would like your child to treat them.” If you are a mom, you are a role model, and there is no time off-stage. Bad-mouthing other drivers will breed little road-raggers. Over-reacting to spilled everything models the opposite of the “mistakes are learning opportunities” mindset I hope to teach you. How I treat your dad, and how I allow him to treat me, establishes your view on what a relationship looks like. Motherhood elevates the requirement for mindful words and actions unlike anything else.

6. My appreciation and gratitude to my own mother multiplied by infinity. In no circumstance can we truly understand or appreciate the views, experience or sacrifice of another if we haven’t walked that very same path. As I now walk the path of motherhood while reflecting upon the upbringing your Mimi provided, I am in forever awe and indebtedness to her.

7. New moms can be like middle-schoolers. This mom-thing is new territory. There is a hard “starting-over” period. Of course, there is no performance review or pay raise to validate the job we’re doing. There can be a temptation to seek fake validation in the same way middle schoolers do: comparison and judgment. It can seem that other moms are chill, confident, covered in trendiness and hauling an admirable social calendar. Some have their kid’s activity plan rival that of a pro athlete. There are mom clicks. The vast importance of the job breeds insecurity. If you decide to become a mom, please never feel “less than,” especially in the beginning. Keep being yourself, listen to your voice and give yourself time and love. You’ll settle in.

8. Mom-gut is real. It doesn’t matter if your baby is brand new. If you feel like something is off, follow the instinct. Always listen to your inner voice. I had heard that new moms freak out over every little thing. As a result, I worked to go the other way in the face of my gut. Annie, you had some early symptoms of your GLUT 1, including irregular rapid eye movements when you were a baby. I didn’t pay enough attention to these signs in an attempt to avoid being that paranoid new mom. Be the paranoid new mom. There is no downside aside from a reassuring false alarm.

9. Motherhood holds the power of sanctification. Most of all, motherhood has deepened my prayer life as I ferociously pray for God’s continued presence in your lives. I can’t always be with you. I can’t protect you from the harms and temptations of this world, or even your own inexperience. He can. Motherhood showed me what selflessness really looks like. It turned my eyes away from the superficial. It illuminated what matters, and what doesn’t. It softened my heart. It showed me the beauty in different personalities, talents and gifts. It gave me a deeper understanding of God-given love. It has made me a better person.

10. I need to be more grateful. It is far, far too easy to get caught up in the hard of motherhood. As I sit here and write this, a precious young toddler in our community is on his eleventh day lying unconscious in a hospital bed, tape across his face to hold the oxygen tubes, monitors covering his tiny body after an instant accident. An infinite amount of chaos, messes or melt-downs are of zero matter compared to having you girls at home safe and healthy. I don’t ever want to forget it. Each day our kids are healthy, we have reason to rejoice.

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