It is insane that Arabella turned four years old yesterday.
Some days I feel like I’ve been a mom for 119 long years while on others I feel like the terrified young Tash who was sent home from the hospital not even knowing how to bathe a human baby. I dare not speak for all moms, but I’m pretty certain that I’m not alone in this feeling.
Becoming a mother honestly changed everything. Motherhood has changed my views on the world we live in, my perception of my body, my thoughts on parenting in general, my feelings around myself, and it was ultimately what led me to God.
I can say with certainty that becoming a mom changed me to my core.
I’ve learned so, so, so many things over the past four years. In honour of my little girl turning a whole four years old, here’s just a glimpse of a couple of the biggies that I’ve learned about motherhood — so far.
8 Lessons I’ve Learned During My 4 Years of Motherhood
1. Motherhood is HARD…
An ex-employer of mine had a way with words that I look back on so fondly. Throughout the wonderful couple of years that I spent in and at her company she gave me golden advice, but perhaps the best was “mothering is not for sissies”.
Today, I feel this in my soul.
Mothering really is not for sissies. I don’t think you can properly prepare yourself for just how hard motherhood is and I genuinely don’t know how women popped babies out in caves all those years ago.
There is the actual parenting side of things, which is just a neverending list of things to do. You’re constantly putting someone else’s needs, wants, desires, and whims before your own and it’s a huge adjustment.
The first year is definitely exhausting; with all the nappy changes, late-night feeds, breastfeeding issues, introduction to solids, moving to their own crib or room, and the wobbly entrance to the world of walking which comes hand-in-hand with first bruises, bumps, and maybe even a drop or two of blood.
And there is the mothering side of things, which is just terrifying. You’re literally raising another person. What you project onto them now will form the core of who they are as human beings.
You’re the person who will teach them right from wrong, good from bad, edible from ohmygoshnodontputthatinyourmouth. You’re the person who teaches them how to be a person, and it’s tough to put that pressure into words.
2. …And Fathers Deserve More Credit
Fathers really get the short end of the stick when it comes to how they’re perceived by the world. All TV shows want to show us is how lazy fathers are and how the entire responsibility is lumped on mothers.
And I’m sure that this is the case for some people, and I feel for them I truly do, but this simply isn’t the case for me. Nor is it the case for anyone I know.
Every father I know has been a nappy-changer, bottle-maker, vomit-cleaner, hug-giver, and tear-wiper. Daddydaims was phenomenal in Arabella’s early days and at no point did he say that something was “a mom’s job”.
As she grows, he grows as a father and adjusts his role in her life. Quite frankly, it’s incredible to witness.
I may live in Tashland, but I don’t live in fairyland. I know that there are poop-stain papas who don’t care about their children walking this earth. But I also know that there are fantastic fathers out there that really don’t deserve to be painted with the same brush.
3. Every Age and Stage Will Be Your Favourite
I can’t even count how many times I’ve said “This stage is my favourite” because every stage brings something new.
When Arabella was a baby, it was fascinating watching her develop. I cried the day she discovered her toes and I would genuinely want her to stop sleeping so much so I could just watch her eyes explore my face.
When Arabella was learning how to crawl, it was the biggest adventure. I saw my surroundings from her eyes and hot damn are there a lot of seemingly innocuous household items that are revealed as death traps when you’re looking up at them from your hands and knees.
When Arabella was learning how to talk, it was a privilege to witness. Now I didn’t need to guess if she was hungry or tired or wanted to play, because she would tell me. We would spend hours babbling away about nothing and there was nothing I would rather do.
When Arabella was able to walk unassisted, it was a gamechanger. It’s mindboggling how quickly they go from walking to Usain Bolt-ing around the house and keeping up with her made me feel like a kid again.
And now that Arabella is four, I swear I fall in love with her ten times a day. Talking to her about her day at school and who she played with is one of my favourite things to do in the world. Her personality is well and truly blossoming and she is absolutely freaking HILARIOUS!
This stage is definitely my favourite.
4. EVERYONE Has An Opinion On EVERYTHING
This was something that I had been warned about, but wow. It’s astounding how everyone and their uncle’s sister’s wife’s neighbour’s dogsitter’s best friend knows everything there is to know about babies.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the advice. When asked for, that is.
I was a young mom who was scared and confused most of the time. And when you tell me how breastmilk alone is not sufficient enough to sustain a baby or how picking up a crying infant spoils them, guess what? I was even more scared and confused.
I’ve had people who have never even had their own child tell me what to do with mine. I’ve had women who never even attempted to breastfeed tell me to give up on breastfeeding. I’ve had people who had their babies in the stone age tell me that I’m doing everything all wrong.
And it is so immensely damaging to a new mom.
Society drills into expectant mothers to embrace and listen to their maternal instincts, but the moment that baby arrives if you aren’t getting all of your guidance from Google or a well-thumbed baby book you get lambasted.
My aunty Jax gave me a fantastic piece of advice that I have passed on to a couple of other moms. She told me to turn to the same one or two people for advice and ignore all of the rest. And so that’s exactly what I did.
Unless you’re asked, unless you’re someone’s go-to advice giver, and unless you’re seeing someone do something that is potentially unsafe for their baby, zip it.
5. Your Life Will Change
Your life will change. You will change. The things you do will change, as will the way in which you do them. Your dreams and goals and hopes and who you decide to let come along for the ride will change too.
And that’s perfectly acceptable. Wonderful, even.
The person I am today resembles nothing of the person I was four years ago. And I’m not just talking about the baby weight I never quite managed to lose…
I’m talking about how you have to think twice before making any decision, once for yourself and once for your child. You can’t just make decisions on the fly anymore.
I’m talking about how your child’s emotions completely rule yours. You share in their joy and their tiny victories become your own huge ones. Their sadness adds to your own pile of sadness. Now I’m not saying that I don’t feel my own emotions, I’m just saying that I feel double.
Gone are the days of arriving anywhere on time. Gone are the nights of partying. Gone are the days of relishing unplanned drop-ins from friends. Gone are the days of staying up far too late and not feeling like a zombie when your early-bird child wakes at the crack of dawn. Gone are the days of doing anything randomly.
And I don’t want any of those days back.
6. Mom Guilt is a Real Thing
As much as I try to tell myself that I’m a good mom and that I do enough for Arabella, the guilt can be crippling. While of course it was and is most prominent because I’m a working mom, moments of complete and utter guilt rear their heads at the strangest of times.
Sure, there’s the superficial side of things like when Arabella decides (in the middle of the month, AFTER grocery shopping) that she doesn’t want NikNaks in her lunchbox anymore and only wants “the pink chippies” that her friend Thandi has.
But then there are the times when she says she doesn’t want me to go to work. Or questions why she can’t see her family that lives overseas. Or wonders aloud why she doesn’t have that one toy she saw another kid playing with. Or asks me why our house is so small.
Without meaning to, Arabella sends me on a rollercoaster ride of guilt trip ten times a day. But that’s nothing compared to the guilt that I put on myself.
It’s a well-established fact that pregnancy brain made me forget to take my prenatal vitamins, will that reveal sinister consequences five years from now? Do I spend enough quality time with her? Does she know how much I love her?
Why do I always rush bath time? Howcome I answer my phone when I’m playing with her? Am I setting a good example for her? Am I even good enough of a person to raise someone as spectacular as she is?
7. Comparison Really Is The Thief Of Joy
Every pregnancy is different.
Every mother is different.
Every baby is different.
And my word, each day presents you with a different version of your toddler whose favourite food is fish fingers one day and a stick of pooh-covered poison the next.
Don’t bother comparing any part of your motherhood journey to the journey of the mom next to you.
There is always going to a woman who had the perfect pregnancy, a mother who never has a hair out of place, a baby who learns how to walk or talk way before yours does, and a toddler who would never even dream of coating herself — head-to-toe — in bum creme.
I wish I realised this approximately four years ago, but there really is no point whatsoever in comparing yourself or your kid to others. All it will do is tear you down or make you doubt yourself.
8. Time Moves Differently When You’re a Mom
Everybody told me “make the most of this time, it flies by so quickly” and I would be like “Uh, yes, Susan, that’s how time works”. And now I say that exact same thing to new moms.
Time doesn’t just fly when you’re a mom, it moves differently.
On nights when your little one is sick and you’re trying to break their fever, it feels like you’re trying to swim in jelly. Every second that passes feels like an hour and by the time you’re out of the danger zone you’re all completely exhausted.
But on nights when your tummy is hurting because you’ve been laughing so much and your face feels like it’s about to split in two because you’re smiling so wide, you blink and it’s over. Why is it that times move so quickly when you want it to stand still?
I’m going to be Susan right now.
Please, from the bottom of my heart, cherish this time and appreciate every single moment of motherhood. I know first-hand how difficult it can be, but I would honestly rather have ten thousand difficult days than one without my daughter.
Here’s To The Next Four Years
1,982 words later and I still feel like I haven’t even come close to describing what I’ve learned throughout my four years of being a mom.
My fingers are itching to keep typing, but heck you’re a mom and you’ve got places to be, butts to wipe, hearts to warm, and time to cherish.
I hope that today’s post has helped you understand a bit more about how much being a mom has taught me and that maybe, just maybe, it has made you feel like you aren’t alone in the craziest hood of them all: motherhood.