Now that 2020 has come and gone, everyone seems to be in a reflective mood. Much of what transpired during the year took us all by surprise, and I’m no exception. I’ve been thinking a great deal about my career and my personal ambitions. I’ve also been considering things I learned about motherhood and myself as a mother, both last year and at this point in my overall experience as a mom. Here are a few things that, if given a chance to speak to new moms, I would share about lessons I’ve learned through motherhood.
To Work or Not To Work
Despite the life I live now, I actually thought I would be a stay-at-home mom. I grew up in a family where my mom was able to stay home while my dad worked a 9-5. I saw being a mother as an important familial role I wanted to hold. That’s the image of a “mom” that I experienced growing up. I thought being a good mom meant I had to commit my entire life to my kids’ lives. After all, that’s what my mom did! It was the role that suited and worked for her. And, I know it works for so many amazing mothers. It’s such a beautiful thing, as long as they’re satisfied and happy with it.
My mom was only part of my motivation to be a full-time mom. My whole life was spent supporting very successful individuals. For me, I was very satisfied with having a behind-the-scenes position as a workaholic who executed out of the spotlight. I so very much enjoyed spending time at home with my first son. I can remember gazing into his big, brown eyes and feeling a love like I’d never felt before. But while those moments were incredibly precious, I recognized that, as a whole person, other parts of me needed to find personal fulfillment outside of my home. It was a decision I felt inside myself, so I followed it.
I realized I wasn’t satisfied with the expectation of a more traditional motherhood path. I also realized how difficult it was to go against anything that was the “norm.” That made me want to fight to do things my way. It made me think about societal standards subconsciously taught to women our entire lives. The choice to be a stay-at-home mom or a working mom weighs heavily on so many of us. It shouldn’t, though. There isn’t one right or wrong way to do motherhood, and I think society needs to express that more openly and often.
Changing My “Mom” Mindset
Many of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through motherhood helped me realize things about myself. There were so many rules I just KNEW were going to be a part of how I parented my kids. New moms, prepare to throw many of those things out the window. It’s going to happen.
For instance, I thought I would care much more about screen time with my kids. It was so important to me to not have a television or mobile device “raise” my kids. I saw so many parents fall into that trap. The reality is, I work hard to give my kids regular experiences outside of the home. Even when they’re home, they’re occupied with each other, arts and crafts, and so many other activities. I’ve never really had to “monitor” screen time because they’re not really into it. So I haven’t had to focus on it much.
Such is the same with sweets and candy in my home. My kids don’t go ga-ga over them because I let them have treats every now and again. Maybe it’s just in my home, but I’ve found my kids don’t really get excited over things I let them have. It’s the things they aren’t exposed to much that become problems. When you take something away that kids feel like they should have, they want it more. Your home may work differently, and it should. Embrace what works for your kids, and don’t be afraid to change your mind about things as the days of motherhood pass.
Enjoy the Journey
I could go on about the things I’ve learned over the past several years about myself as a mom. More than any other lessons I’ve learned through motherhood, though, I learned that nothing will ever prepare you for parenting like having a kid. Also, once you have one (or two), the lessons will continue. They will change. And, many of them will evolve as life’s journey continues. For new and seasoned moms, know that life is no more or no less fulfilling if your motherly aspirations change.
Whether it’s your rules, occupation choices or mindset changes, life has a funny way of working things out as they’re meant to be. Even at this stage of my life, I’m still getting to watch my own motherhood story unfold. No, it hasn’t happened as I thought it would. However, it has and will continue to surprise me. My advice is to ride the motherhood wave, and enjoy it. Be willing to accept the moments when life doesn’t pan out the way you plan. It can be BETTER than what you plan. At least, that’s been my experience. And that, all by itself, will continue to excite me for whatever comes next.