Charis wasn’t just the inspiration for this blog… She helped.
This post has been a while in the making.
After all, I HAVE been a mama for a whopping 5 months.
Oh wait. You mean that’s just the beginning? Well, even though I still have a few decades to go as a mama, I wanted to share with you some of the lessons I have learned (and am still learning) as a new mama.
You might remember the 10 Commandments mini-series I did for friends/families of pregnant gals, our hubbies and all you procreating ladies out there. Now today, we add a new dimension.
So grab your sense of humor and your loudest AMENs… Because I have a sneaky suspicion a handful of you might identify with these 10 Commandments for New Mamas. (Side note: Most, if not all of these, apply whether you are a biological mama or adoptive mama. Just sayin.)
1. Thou Shalt give yourself grace. This is a biggie. I don’t know about you, but I know several new moms who have great dreams and expectations of what motherhood is going to be like… The snuggles, the smiles, drying tears… and that’s totally legit. However, motherhood is freaking hard. (Most rewarding thing we will ever do, but hard.) The sleepless nights, first sickness, the days where your patience is running thin… And newsflash, I’m not perfect. (My guess? Neither are you. Sorry.) I personally have jacked up many times so far in my short time of being a mama. So what keeps me going? The promise that God doesn’t want us to be perfect… He just wants us to be faithful.
2. Thou shalt enjoy it. Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it all before… “Enjoy this time because you will wish it back.” Well, I totally agree with the enjoying this new journey as a mom to the fullest– every moment, milestone and thrilling experience. However, it is so easy to get caught up in tomorrow, worrying about what’s coming next or what we are going to do when _____ <you fill in the blank>. Just as it says in Matthew… Tomorrow has enough worries in itself. So let’s just enjoy our little one today.
3. Thou shalt not forget about other folks… And Jesus. It’s SO easy to get fully, totally, completely consumed taking care of and nurturing this little life that God has entrusted us with. However, probably the best parenting advice I ever received was in a sermon several years ago… They gave an illustration of pyramid of God being at the top, spouse second in line then kiddos next. Yes, babies take a TON of work in those early stages, but remembering God is over it all and our hubs (or other family members) are here to help us takes some of the pressure off, keeps our relationships healthy and let’s us enjoy the journey even more. (See Commandment #2.)
4. Thou shalt laugh and exercise your sense of humor. Some of the crazy things that happen in motherhood are hilarious. Maybe not at that exact moment, but the next morning when you realized your sleep-deprived zombie self tossed that 3am dirty diaper in the laundry hamper instead of the trashcan sure can warrant some grins. (As long as you catch it before you toss it in the washer.) Kids are hilarious, even the little teeny ones. So don’t be afraid to laugh at the motherhood journey… and even yourself on occasion. That, in itself, is a gift from God.
5. Thou shalt not compare. This is a biggie, folks. We live in a competitive culture. Everyone wants bigger, better, smarter, faster. Well, guess what? Being a mama can sure suck you into this trap. You see/hear someone else’s baby weighing more at their doctor’s appointment, getting a tooth sooner, sleeping through the night, crawling quicker, blah blah blah… Then suddenly you start to worry (sin), judge the other mom (sin) or envy them (sin.) See where I’m going with this? Yes, it is a struggle to overcome our human tendencies… But I think I remember something about that with God, ALL things are possible.
6. Thou shalt ask questions. And lots of them. Anybody who is gonna get all up in your Kool-aid for asking questions bout your little one and the millions of parenting decisions/responsibilities needs to quit sipping that Haterade and step off. (I get a bit fired up about this one… Can you tell?) As far as I am concerned, there are no dumb questions, especially if putting in a 1am phone call to your pediatrician’s nurse line to get a question answered will help you sleep a bit better and rest your weary heart/mind/body. Also, ask lots of questions to YOUR doctor about what your bod is going through, and ask questions to your pediatrician. If they give you flack, I vote time to get a new doc. AND you can also ask questions to God, asking for guidance in a particular situation/mamahood moment. (See Commandment #10.) Oh, and avoid Google. Seriously. Don’t google your questions or you might never sleep again. One more note on this one– Always go with your mama-Jesus gut. Docs/experts/other parents are great, but YOU (and Jesus!) know your baby best.
7. Thou shalt embrace your new body. Let’s be honest– pregnancy may or may not have been super kind to your bod. Heck, even if you adopted your little one, your body is probably still gonna go through some changes with the lack of sleep, learning how to eat/exercise with a babe… Embracing our new physical selves can be a challenge. Sometimes you gotta wonder if things will EVER get back to normal and be the same. Answer? Nope. I mean, seriously– you grew a human being inside of you! That’s kind of a big deal. But although your bod won’t ever be the “same” it will have a new normal… And new normal is great considering you have a little one to remind you that it was all worth it. God’s temple (your body) is a blessing to begin with. (PS: See also Commandment #5… Because for those of us that becoming a mom was physically not the best, don’t be hatin’ on your FB friend when she posts that she lost all of her baby weight day 2 after giving birth and ran a marathon a week later. Just sayin.)
8. Thou shalt remember you are human. This commandment goes hand-in-hand with #1. But seriously… We need to come to terms with the fact that we cannot and will not be perfect parents. (As much as I would love for the opposite to be true.) In those moments of feeling like blah/ican’tdothis/crapimessedup, don’t listen to Satan’s voice telling you that you “failed.” Instead, hit your knees and seek God’s grace, guidance and forgiveness. After all, He is our heavenly Father so he totally gets how hard it can be– times a few billion.
9. Thou shalt not stress…. Too much. I wish I could write a rock-solid commandment of “thou shalt not stress at all ever.” Maybe for some mamas out there is a possibility, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that the majority of us experience some kind of stress when they send us home with a teeny little person (minus the instruction manual) and we suddenly realize that we are solely in charge of this little one’s upbringing for say, the next couple of decades-ish. That just might bring on some stress. But as new mamas, we gotta take it one day at a time… Laying our fears at the foot of the cross, praying through them (might I recommend Philippians 4:6-8?) and TRUST that God will see us through every nerve-wracking, uncertain yet joyous moment of being a new mama.
And finally, the one that trumps them all…
10. Thou shalt pray… A LOT. (This one was also included in all 3 of the previous preggo commandment posts… Seeing a trend of importance here?) I think I’ve prayed more as a new mama than I have in all my life. I pray for wisdom. Patience. Energy. Discernment. Composure. Strength. Guidance. Rest. Encouragement. Forgiveness. Courage. And every time I pray, the task of raising my little girl becomes a little less daunting and I can see God’s fingerprint as a bigger heavenly picture comes into view.
All you mama’s out there… Can I get an AMEN?
Motherly love to you,
“May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful!” ~Proverbs 23:25 NIV
PS: Be sure to pop over to Monday’s blog
for a chance to enter a giveaway! (Ends 8/19/13)