Mar
30

Welcome to the Motherhood

6

Ready for another loooong post? I thought I'd write something about my thoughts as a new mom, and the words just kept a coming...so consider yourself warned. Motherhood is a topic that I think anyone can chime in on, whether you just found out you're pregnant, are a first-time mom, or have five kids...whether you're looking back at your own childhood, dreaming about your future, or can't believe that your babies are now grown. I haven't experienced all those stages yet, but from talking to different moms, it's pretty clear that no matter where you're at, you have struggles and joys...days you feel like you're rocking it, closely followed by days when you feel like a total failure...moments when you want to soak in all the snuggles, and moments when you need some space to yourself. I know I've felt all of the above in the short period of time that I've been a mom.

motherhood

Darling baby

When I was pregnant, a lot of people shared their experiences and advice with me, on a full spectrum ranging from "children are such a blessing and give meaning to your life" to "children ruin your life--do everything you enjoy now because this is your last chance for 18 years." Ok, maybe I'm slightly exaggerating there...but I do feel like we heard so many different things. And that makes sense, because every parent is different, every kid is different, and every day is different. Catch me on a good day, and I may say something different than on a rough one. It's only normal.

Even though I realize that, I soooo easily get caught up in comparison and self-doubt. I think all parents do, but perhaps especially first-time moms. We all want to do "the best" for our kid, but there are so many decisions to make and it's so subjective what "the best" really is, anyways. The amount of (often contradictory) information is overwhelming, and there's always someone who disagrees with what you're doing:

- home birth or hospital
- epidural or all natural
- vaccines or not
- circumcision or not
- cosleeping or crib
- breastfeeding or formula
- cloth diapers or disposable
- stay-at-home mom or working mom
- stylish baby clothes or inexpensive basics
- homemade baby food or storebought
- strict nap times or flexible sleep schedule
- homeschool or public school

...to name a few, off the top of my head. It's exhausting!

Motherhood

And no matter how hard you try to do it "right," someone is bound to say something that makes you feel criticized or judged. It might come from a stranger, a friend, a fellow mom, a family member, or your spouse. Maybe all of the above. :) I can almost guarantee that at some point, you will get offended or annoyed about something. Parenting is so close to the heart, it's easy to be extra sensitive. BUT I'm trying to remember that everyone means well! Those comments usually come from the best of intentions and a genuine desire to be helpful.

With that in mind, I'm trying to be open to different opinions, without taking any of them too personally. After all, motherhood is a tribe, and we need one another.  None of us has the answer key. We're all just figuring it out as we go. But it's so much better to figure things out with other moms by your side, rather than trying to do it "right" all by yourself.

So my #1 piece of advice for other new parents? Find some fellow moms (and dads!) that you can chat with, vent to, and ask for advice. As for the rest of the debates? As long as your baby is fed and loved, don't worry too much...do whatever works for you. That's my take, anyways!

tenth & pine jumpsuit

Motherhood

Becoming a parent is a tough transition. It's a HUGE shift in identity, priorities, and day to day life. And it's impossible to be perfect, because everyone's idea of "perfect" is different anyways. So don't hold yourself to that standard! Cut yourself some slack. And when it comes to all those heated debates...let's cut each other some slack too. We're all in this together.

P.S. I'd love to hear...what advice would you give to new moms & dads?

Thanks to Tenth & Pine for sending over the cute outfits that Ian is wearing in these photos. I love their selection of stylish, gender-neutral baby clothes.

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  1. Posted by Rachel on Thursday, March 30th, 2017

    I feel like you've hit it spot on! There are so many different concepts, opinions and ideas out there and it can get overwhelming! I feel like for me, it was especially overwhelming when I was pregnant the first time and trying to decide on all.the.things. Haha! It is much better now since I've learned to take things in stride, and grow and develop along with my growing and changing daughter :) Having other moms (plus my own mom) to talk about things has been so so wonderful! I am so very thankful for that!!
    And I have to say, you and Ben just seem like naturals already at parenting! You are doing an amazing job! :D
    • Posted by Aileen on Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

      So glad to hear it's less overwhelming for you this time around! It does seem like all the decisions should get easier with each kid.

      And thank you for the kind words! We're lucky to have some great examples to learn from. ;) I also think we got lucky with Ian as our first baby...he's so good-natured. We really can't take credit for that. But I do hope it's in the genes so all our future babies will be just as nice, haha!
  2. Posted by Kerry on Saturday, April 1st, 2017

    This is all so true. Everyone has advice and it's all so contradictory! It's completely overwhelming at first to find out what you're "supposed" to do. I think the only real option is to decide what's best for your family and own it. It's the best when you have a good partner to bounce ideas off of and make solid decisions together that you can stick to.

    Another thing I found when I became a mother was I would catch myself judging other parents, silently in my head, whether my friends or strangers, which is not like me at all, but I think it was because I spent so much time thinking about what was "right" or "wrong." I quickly had to stop myself and say, every parent is doing the absolute best they can, even if that's something different than what I'd do.
    • Posted by Aileen on Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

      Yes, totally agree! It's great to have a partner to discuss & make decisions with. Ben is good about staying confident and not caring what other people think/say, so he's a good balance for my second-guessing self. :)

      I have caught myself judging other parents in my head too. But actually, I feel like I did that more before I had a baby myself. I have more compassion now, haha!
  3. Posted by jen spadaro on Monday, April 10th, 2017

    do you know whats weird about this? you can never win. im 6.5 years in with 3 kids and ppl are not only sensitive but can be super judgemental. im a stay at home mom, so working mothers feel the need to tell you how they hate being at home and how they wouldnt want to lose theirselves or their awesome careers. if you have 1 kid, thats not enough, kids need siblings. now we have 3 and we are crazy for wanting more. only 2 is socially accectable. what ive learned is never judge. this isnt a competition. no one is winning or losing. make the best decisions for your family. pray about them. then feel confident. change your mind if you get new information. when people try to compare and compete dont allow it. they will brag about their baby growing teeth faster if you let them. dont sweat the small stuff. but treasure this gift thats been given to you.
    • Posted by Aileen on Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

      I have totally noticed that too. In Seattle, I felt like it was looked down on if you wanted to stay at home with your kids, or have more than two, or start having kids before 30 (seriously, I had multiple people tell me I was "too young" to be having a baby...uhhh, I'm 27). Now that we're in a smaller city, I've noticed the opposite. So many younger parents, lots of stay-at-home moms, and lots of big families. It's been sort of refreshing, to be honest. But then I hear judgment being thrown the other way, looking down on working moms and people who "wait too long" to have kids. Siiiigh. You guyyyysssss. Like you said, this isn't a competition! I know we all want to feel like we made the right decision, but can we do that without stepping on someone else's choice?

      Anyways, I'm doing my best to follow your advice and ignore all the competitiveness. In a way (this might sound weird) I feel like it was a blessing for me that Ian was born early, because I'm not expecting him to be in the 99th percentile or hit all his milestones in record time. I'm afraid I might have been more caught up in all that if he was born full-term.
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