Until it comes to being a mom. Then I need all the help I can get.
There is nothing like the joy, the challenge, the exasperation of preparing two tiny human beings to be contributing members of society. The longer I contemplate this, the more I realize that it truly does take a village. And (no surprise here) the villagers who’ve provided me the most help are mothers who have a few more years’ experience on me.
Here are a few words of wisdom I’ve learned from other moms so far:
1. “You fall in and out of love.” This was my grandmother’s answer to someone who’d asked her how she and my grandfather stayed married for 53 years, when my grandfather passed away. I was 16 when I heard this. Married couples may not always be the picture of bliss, but two people who support each other, regardless of what season their relationship is in, can model a healthy relationship for their children.
2. “If you can get through the first 12 weeks, you’ll be OK.” This is from a down-to-earth friend who wasn’t afraid to be honest about the difficult first few weeks after a baby is born. She told me this about three weeks after I became a mother for the first time. She recommended I read “Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year” by Anne Lamott. My friend (and Anne Lamott) helped me see that I wasn’t alone in having trouble getting through that fourth trimester.
3. “I’m just not one of those cupcake-baking moms.” This declaration is from my own mom. As a younger kid, I thought it’d be cool to have her as a room mother or to chaperone my class on field trips. As I got older, I saw how hard she worked and the sacrifices she made so that my sister and I could wear Guess Jeans like the other kids in our affluent neighborhood. She may not have handed down any killer cupcake recipes. But she did give me a killer work ethic. And the phone number to a great bakery.
4. “Love and logic work hand-in-hand.” My former boss, a mom of two grown kids—one who’s special needs, and the other who’s working on her master’s degree—pointed me to a book called “Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility.” The authors’ main idea is that children should learn from the natural consequences of their actions – not by mommy and daddy dictating orders to them or hovering over them and catering to their every need. There are plenty of parenting books out there with sound advice; the ideas in this book are ones that my husband and I agree work well for our family.
5. “Let God’s hand be evident every step of the way.” Another former boss, a mother of three girls, sent me this in a text message when I was diagnosed with cancer. Out of all the prayers that people so graciously prayed for me, this sentence sticks with me. And although her message was tied to my illness, the thought applies to many areas of life. Parenting is the hardest job in the world – and how we love our children unconditionally – is evidence of God’s love for us. My boss’s words help me remember this through the roughest and best of parenting seasons.
Thank you, moms, for all your help. Now all I have to do is figure out how to operate the DVD player.
Melanie Medina is a Senior Communications Specialist at Texas Health Resources, mom of two, and sharer of mom wisdom.