10 Things I Learned as a Young Mom

I was at the store the other day, as I turned down one aisle there was a Mom with a little girl skipping and singing, she was adorable.  Then as I made the corner, there was a young Mom doing the mad dash to exit the building. In her arms, awkwardly contained, was a toddler in full melt down mode.  The sound hadn’t hit me yet as the little red faced peanut was sucking in air as quickly as she could. Just as they passed me she wailed out her protest.  This Mom looked completely frazzled and my heart went out to her as I thought to myself, “These two images are the best snapshot of Motherhood ever!”

As Mom’s, we love our babes, no question. Every expression they make causes us wondrous delight. We love their chubby little fingers, and cute feet. Our hearts melt when they first smile at us and then explode when they say “ma” for the first time. It doesn’t have to be a full “mama”, we claim “ma” as our identity and we are exhilarated that they look at us and say it. We are proud when they roll over, crawl and the walk. We celebrate these milestones with unconstrained joy.

But what about the moments in between.

The less than lovely moments.

When my best friend sees a young  “Mom to be”, she sometimes has to restrain herself from running up to her shouting out warnings. Expectant Mom’s look blissfully happy. Naive really. Clueless that when that baby comes out there will be a day when it throws up everywhere. Yes, everywhere. There will be nothing in the near vicinity that is vomit free, including her. That expectant Mom and her husband will be the ones cleaning it up. They have no idea that this disaster is in their future. My friend feels the deep need to warn them about what is coming down the pipe. Thank goodness she holds herself back. I mean, really, it is just not fair to unleash all of that on an unsuspecting, poor, hormonal soul.

That  “Mom to be” probably wouldn’t believe it all anyway, and lets face it, there is no turning back. Perhaps ignorance is for the best.

The sleepless nights, the teething, the horrendous amounts of diapers. The inability to know for sure what they need, trying everything you know and being no further ahead.  

It is exhausting. 

Having no memory of what it is to feel rested. 

Having no memory. 

Having lost all hope that you ever may know the beauty of a full nights sleep again. My husband and I would sometimes see who could outlast the other before crawling out of bed to sooth the wailing babe.

Then there are the choices. You know, the ones that lead to possible judgement. Do I let my baby have a soother or not.  Are we going to make them cry it out to sleep or not. When are we going to introduce food and which food will we start with? Do they get sugar? Ever?  No matter what you do, people have an opinion and have no trouble letting you know what it is.  You constantly second guess yourself and feel judged by those who are doing it differently.  Often, there is so much information that, once you have read it all, you can’t remember what you thought was the right thing to do and now you have no idea what to do!

Lets not forget the shrinking of your world.  Suddenly laundry, cleaning up on, under and around the table, sleep/ nap schedules rule your days.  You are washing the floor for the fourth time that day and you cannot remember the last time you talked to an adult about adult things.

The worst part is, when you finally have 2 minutes to sit down, you scroll through Facebook and everyone is saying how lovely their day was and how there is nothing better than being a Mom. They post all the beautiful parts of Motherhood and you end up wondering why it is so hard for you. You wonder if there is something wrong with you or the way you are doing things.  You wonder if you are the only one stuck in the muck of life.  Exhausted, frustrated and feeling like the idea of Motherhood was way better than the reality.

I am sorry if I have mislead you with Facebook posts.  Here is a little dose of Reimer reality.

On our daughter’s first night decorating for Christmas she got tangled in the garland & broke countless glass ornaments. While I was cleaning up the ornaments, Craig was struggling with putting the lights on the tree. Our sweet girl started sorting through the garbage can in our bedroom. While I was cleaning the garbage, she sat in the bathroom painting herself with Penatin cream. That stuff really does create an impressive barrier! By the end of that evening, Craig and I were thoroughly exhausted, finished, done. On her first birthday she threw an entire 5lb bucket of flour around my kitchen and I was so distracted by her, I baked 3 cakes before one came out right.

On his first birthday, our first born son decided to play “catch me if you can”. He went flying down the stairs and got the most magnificent black eye in the history of black eyes. I couldn’t bear to take a picture of it in it’s full glory, this is just as it is starting. His 2nd birthday was spent in ER getting his eyebrow glued together. Four hours in ER with a two year old who had been running since he was 8 months old. Fun!

Our second born son was a summer baby and for his first birthday, we spent the day at the lake where there were extra adults. In all honesty, he probably fell off the dock and needed saving, in order to sooth my conscious, I have repressed the memory. Shortly after his first birthday, he was also sporting an impressive black eye.

In fact all of my kids had black eye’s right before a set of immunizations, I thought for sure the authorities were keeping a close eye on us as a family.

Do you need wisdom on potty training? I have none. All three accomplished this milestone differently and I am not sure I was a significant part of the process. Really, I am convinced I have no knowledge or skill in this area of parenting. None!!

There was a point when we thought we were successful just keeping them alive until they were 5!! When we reached that goal we aimed for 13. Now we have hopes of getting them all the way to adult hood. We covet any prayers you can send our way. Seriously. Ask my husband.

Here is what I have learned.

1. Ask for help.

It does take a village to raise a child.  Find your village and ask for help.  Do not think you have to be super parents.  Someone is very eager to rock a baby while you have a shower so that you don’t have to smell like sour milk all day.

2. Be realistic.

You can’t be the perfect parent no matter how badly you want to be. sorry, but there it is!  Do the best you can, if you don’t like how you are handling something, keep filling your tool belt of parenting skills and keep trying.

Your house will be messy, things will not get done. Your house will not look like the cover of House & Home once kids happen. That is OK! Go play peek-a-boo, sing songs and read stories.

3. Trust your instincts.

You know what you can handle as a family and what is best for your child. Stick to it if it is working and don’t feel the need to explain yourself to others.

4. Everyone has bad days.

You are not alone, find some friends you can trust and be honest with. The women who I raised my babies with know things about me no one else knows except my husband.  They have seen me at my best and at my worst. They have loved me anyway and prayed for my kids and for me. They are sisters and our history is a tight bond.

5. You are not alone.

There have been times when I have been in desperate need of an appropriate consequence by the time I turned around from the kitchen sink.  God always gave me something.  Once I found this verse, I clung to it!! He will not leave you hanging when you need direction and guidance.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

6. Protect your marriage.

If the little ones have gone down well and the night is looking peaceful, pull out a special drink, light some candles, change out of your drooled on clothing into something nice and be together.  Don’t turn on the TV until you have had some grown up conversation, a stroll down memory lane remembering your dating years, what attracted you to each other. Reconnect.  Your spouse is the one who is going to be there long after the kids are gone. Don’t forget to take care of your relationship, carve out special moments together.

7. Don’t forget your husband.

I know you are tired, you have been clung to, climbed on, spit up on, and you feel like there is nothing left of you.  You wish someone would care for you.  You made a promise. He needs you. He needs to feel like he still makes your heart flip flop. He needs to look forward to coming through that door at the end of his work day.

Did I do this well? No. A lot of the time I was so overwhelmed by the time he came home, I think he was scared to open the door for fear I might run for the hills for a fort night.  I wish I had done this better. I wish I would have more regularly taken 10 minutes to “freshen up” meet him with an enthusiastic hug and kiss and held off on the “you wouldn’t believe what I had to deal with today”. Not every day has to be like that, but I wish I would have given him more like that. The only reason we survived those years is because he is the most selfless person I know. 

8. Make plans.

It was easy to hermit but, I knew it wasn’t good for me. It is amazing what a walk will do, even if it is only for 10 minutes.  Some how getting outside was a major accomplishment.  It made everything so much better. Once I felt like I was on top of things a little more, getting together with friends was really important.  It can be overwhelming to have people over, meet somewhere you are comfortable taking the kids.

9. Sometimes, you need to put the books down.

For a period of time I stopped reading everything that had to do with parenting and children. I felt like the magazines and books talked about every other child but mine. All the wisdom and advice they offered on certain topics worked for everyone but me.  I don’t know whose kids they were talking about, but clearly, they had not met my child.  So I avoided all written wisdom for a while. 

10. Figure out where God fits in your day.

I needed connection with God.  I wasn’t a good wife or Mom without it.  You cannot continue to care and give to others if you are not filling up.  There has to be something that is life-giving each day.  The quality of what goes in, impacts the quality of what goes out.  It might be worship music.  For a month when my third child was born, it was one verse that I repeated through the day, I had it sitting by the rocking chair where I nursed him.  It was all my brain could take in. For a month!

The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence was the book that transformed those years of raising little ones.  I read it with my first and all of a sudden getting under the table to wipe the floor was no longer a meaningless task. I learned how the routine of life could offer me quiet in the presence of my Lord.  Tasks that had become draining became sought after moments, moments that poured life into my spirit and gave a deeper meaning to the repetitive daily tasks of cleaning, laundry and meal prep.

When your soul is longing for more in those mundane moments of life, it is because there is more. A lot more.  God can turn this time of life, when you are struggling just to survive until those sweet faces are safely asleep each night, into an incredible time of nurturing for your soul.

That is what I have learned. 

And, if you are a Mom making a break for the exit of a large populated store with a wailing child in your arms, relax. The majority of witnesses are thinking “Poor Mom, I pray her day gets better!”.


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