Mother’s Day was this past weekend and it got me thinking about motherhood and the type of mom I want to be. Of course I want to be a great mom, but what does that entail? Do I need to be strict? Should I only breastfeed? Will my kid miss out if she does or doesn’t go to daycare? How do I avoid being the reason for future therapy sessions? Should I just start saving for it now?
As a first time mom, I tried to be prepared for motherhood. I scoured the Internet, library, and Mom Groups for any and all advice on how to successfully transition into motherhood. I figured all the great moms must have read a specific book or attended a secret meeting and I was not about to be left out. I wanted to know everything…and I thought that I did.
From Day 1, my little one has been taunting me with how little I actually know about babies. How does poop get in her hair and not in her diaper? Why didn’t anyone tell me about reflux? I keep waiting for her to follow the timeline in my developmental milestones book or fall in line with any of the patterns I’ve heard about from other moms. I swear she is just going to skip crawling and go straight to walking. And that sassy look she gives me with those eyes! It’s almost as if she is purposefully avoiding all of the typical baby stuff I prepped for just to keep me on my toes. Does she know how many hours I spent researching for her? Enough Baby! You win!
There were not enough books or classes in this world to truly prepare me for the emotional roller coaster of motherhood. I just got on the ride and I feel like it’s going in reverse and will be launching me toward a loop de loop soon enough. I have so many questions, but am afraid if I spend too much time searching for the right answer I will miss out on my baby and I discovering the answer for ourselves. I asked some of my favorite moms, who have been on this ride a time or two, to tell me about some of their experiences as a mom. I figure if they share with me the good, the bad, and the ugly moments of motherhood then I will at least feel a little more prepared. Combined, these moms have over 104 years of experience raising children. They are working moms, stay-at-home moms, single moms, and military moms. Their experiences are filled with love, loss, and lots of laughter.
Allow me to introduce you to “The MoFoGro” (or Mother Focus Group):
My name is Mallory, I am married and I have a 4 mo daughter. I currently stay at home, but plan to go back to work in the future.
My mom, Missy, is married and has two adult children, 29 yo and 27 yo, but also lost a third child to SIDS. She went back to work after each of her kids were 4 weeks old, but was lucky enough to bring them to work until they were old enough to attend daycare.
My Aunt Cindy is married and has two adult children, 38 yo and 33 yo. Cindy lost a full term infant in between the births of her other children. She stayed at home with both of her babies and returned to work when her son was 16 months old.
My Aunt Pam is a single parent and has a 21 yo daughter who is about to graduate college. Her daughter was adopted from Paraguay as an infant. Pam is also a working mom.
Claire is married and has a 19 mo son. She is a stay at home mom because it fits her family’s military lifestyle best.
Kate is married and has a 9 yo son. Her husband currently stays at home and she works outside the home.
Melissa is married and has an almost 4 yo daughter and another baby on the way, due 08/2016. Melissa works, but changed her schedule so she could have every other Friday off, which she typically spends with her daughter.
(I hope to crowdsource experiences of motherhood from these moms and others often. Stick around and see what the MoFoGro has to share…)
To start, I asked them if they had planned on being a mother or if it was a surprise. Interesting enough, all of their children were planned. Some had hoped to have kids earlier in life, but we all know that conceiving is a lot easier said than done. Having just gone through childbirth 4 months ago, I asked about their delivery. It was a mix of C-sections and natural births and one glorious adoption. I think I’d much prefer my next child be delivered to me via Stork. Child birth is not easy. It is another one of those things you can plan and prepare for, but in the end, your baby will come out their own way, whether it is naturally, by C-section, or a vacuum (yes, that happened to me). For those women that opted to not have any drugs during labor, I salute you and your medal is in the mail!
New moms everywhere struggle with whether they should breastfeed or use formula. I saw a meme the other day that said “I Support Fed Babies” and I think this is a very powerful statement that more people should respect. Half of the moms I asked breastfed for all or some of their baby’s infancy while the other half used formula. You have to do what is best for you and your baby.
To fill my heart with warm fuzzies, I asked about their favorite moment as a mom. Breastfeeding, bath time and snuggling before bed were a few of the top responses, though some moms found it difficult to just pick one, “that would be like picking your favorite child,” joked my aunt Cindy. I think my favorite response was from my friend Kate, who’s best mom moment was the day that her and her husband figured out that ”Cluquah” was her son’s word for mom. “The look of relief and love on his face when I responded was amazing,” Kate wrote.
I can’t wait to look back at all of my own memories as a mom and remember the good times; though I have found that not all mom moments are great. The death of a child is probably one of the worst things a mother can endure. Runners-up include illness and injury to your child. Moms do everything in their power to protect and keep their children safe, but sometimes you accidentally shut your son’s fingers in the cabinet door or misplace him in a crowded area. Shit happens! That doesn’t make you a bad mom, though you may feel like it at the time. These moms have handled their pain in different ways, but all have become better, stronger mothers in the long run. I hope I have half as much grace and sensibility while raising my child.
I have always heard that kids say and do the darndest things. Mixing up words or getting them wrong completely seems to be a common adorable mistake. For instance, my cousin would say snake rattle instead of rattle snake, while Kate’s son confused creditor for predator. I think I’d die laughing if I heard him say “Sharks are octopus’ creditors” in his sweet little voice. My mom couldn’t stop laughing when she recently reminded me of my (imaginary) friend Sally that liked it when I farted on her. What a great gal! Maybe my own daughter will have a friend like Sally. Having a little copycat is also pretty funny. Claire’s son tries to imitate her catching gnats, which I am sure is a pretty hilarious sight. Melissa’s daughter has started using the phrases “what the heck,” “good grief,” and “whoopsie daisies” because she hears her mom say them often. How cute is that? It will most likely be my luck that my kid will drop an F*bomb, instead of something sweet.
Speaking of F*bombs, here are some embarrassing moments for these moms. My mom got a call from my brother’s kindergarten teacher because he was trying to rat on a classmate by yelling down the hall “Mrs. Withey, Ryan Von called me a Mother F***er!” And just as embarrassing, my Aunt Pam was called to the Principal’s office because her daughter was being a bully. Are these good reasons to home school? Haha, no! Kids will find a way to embarrass you no matter what! You could be out in public and have your daughter ask you loudly about another person’s gender, like Melissa’s did or maybe you are trying to enjoy a nice dinner with your parents when your son decides to announce to his grandparents that he has been eating lunch in the Principal’s office all week and he thinks it is “a real treat.” All these embarrassing moments seem so insignificant to these moms when they think about hearing their kid say the ABC’s for the first time or when their child graduates from college. Though nothing seems to compare to the pride a mom feels when her child grows up and makes good decisions. That has to be the ultimate reward and “job well done” for a mom.
I’d like to thank my mom, Claire, Kate, Melissa, Cindy and Pam for humoring me and answering questions for my first blog post. These moms share a lot of the same traits when it comes to raising kids. None of them are strict parents. They share the child rearing with their spouses, but also make due on their own. Their kids are expected to clean up after themselves and are given chores when necessary. No one is ever spoiled. They don’t have all the answers, but then again, my journey has just begun and I do not have all of the questions. I do, however, come from a family of great moms and have surrounded myself with wonderful mom friends. I only hope that my journey is filled with as much love and laughter as these moms. Keep following and I’ll update you as I make my way through motherhood.