I was chatting with a younger momma recently about being a mom and she asked me to share some tips and tricks for motherhood. She said she thought our life, and all its crazy, might have taught me a few things that she could apply in her life as well, with or without special needs.
You know what? She was absolutely right. Most of the lessons I have learned, and the tips I share, have more to do with just plain being a momma. So for her, and for any of you, here is my list:
What I Have Learned About Being a Mom (so far)
1. Always carry baby wipes—in your car, in your purse, wherever—no matter how old your kids are.
2. There is always a reason for unexplained behavior (and it is usually not time for the exorcist). Slow things down a bit. Observe. Ask questions. Get some time alone with the child in question. You are the momma. You will start to figure it out.
3. Get to know other mommas. Ask them real questions, even if you feel silly. Other moms can be our greatest resource.
4. Reading books together is fun. So are movies together as a family. Both make memories, so don’t feel bad about the media or beat yourself up about the chapter you missed.
5. When your child says, “I think I am going to throw up,” always, always, always grab a big bowl. As they get older, they will try to make it to the bathroom, and they will very rarely actually make it.
6. Meals happen every single day, three times a day. You might as well accept it and come up with a plan instead of being caught off guard at 4:00 every day (or every morning at 8:00 a.m. or every afternoon at 12:30 if you are like me … ahem).
7. Sometimes, that plan might be scrambled eggs or cereal. It’s still a meal.
8. Carry snacks. Again, no matter how old your kids are, carry snacks.
9. When your child wants to snuggle just a little longer, snuggle. When you worry about spoiling your child because you snuggle them so much, please know there will come a time when snuggling with you is the last thing they will ever want to do. Snuggle now. Snuggle long. You will miss it.
10. The same thing goes for hugs, kisses and tickles.
11. You will work hard. Really, really hard. Just because it is hard doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong.
12. Figure out what your child is good at. Focus on that. Develop that strength. Focusing on the deficits rather than the strengths rarely produces excellence. Encourage their God-given gifts.
13. Tell them as often as you can that you love them no matter what. No matter what they do or don’t do. No matter what they may say or not say. No matter how they may feel less than or not as good. Tell them you will always, always, always love them. That it’s impossible to not love them.
14. There really is something to the airline instructions to secure your own oxygen mask before helping your children with theirs. If you are unconscious, you can’t help anyone, and your children will be on their own. The same thing is true in life. If you are barely surviving, whether you see it or not, your children will not be getting the care they need from you. Take time to just breathe and take care of you.
15. These children will bring you to your knees. In prayer. In scrubbing up messes you never dreamed possible. In fishing tiny remote controlled cars out from under the fridge. In prayer.
16. If you feel yourself starting to slip … into depression, into drinking too much, shopping too much, binge eating too much, there is no shame in getting help. You are someone’s momma and you matter.
17. Your car may not be clean for the next 18 years or so. Inside or out.
18. You will marvel at how nasty a bathroom can actually be just a few days after you scrubbed it. It’s a motherhood mystery. You are not alone.