One year of being a mom: this is what I’ve learned

Ignore most of the (unsolicited) advice you get

I swear, the second people find out you are pregnant people will have opinions, comments and advice. It’s crazy to me how when it comes to pregnancy and children people suddenly feel entitled to share their every thought with you. Ranging from ‘wow, you barely have a bump’ to ‘are you sure you’re not having twins’. How is it suddenly okay to comment on what my body looks like? (Sorry I’m getting heated. Can you tell this bothers me? Lol).

This is only the beginning, because once your child is born, everyone has some advice to ‘offer’ you. Don’t get me wrong, most of this comes from very good intentions, but telling a tired and overwhelmed new mom to ‘just sleep when the baby is sleeping’ is not very helpful. Should I do laundry when the baby does laundry, then?

Ofcourse, sometimes it’s nice to get some advice from someone who has been there before. I’ve asked my mom multiple times what she would do in certain situations, but most of the advice new moms get is unfortunately unsolicited. Once a man at the farmers market asked me if I was sure my child wasn’t suffocating in the baby carrier. I’m sure he was just concerned, but I also felt a bit offended, because I can assure you, no one has ever checked on my baby ‘to make sure he was still breathing’ as much as I have. This unsolicited advice usually comes from a good place, but it’s also okay to just smile, nod and completely ignore the advice (including mine). Or to tell them to fuck off, really.

Not everyone will understand the choices you makes and that’s okay

This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with the advice issue. You have to make so many choices, big and small, every day when it comes to your child. From which soap to use (or if you even want to use soap) to what to school they will go to. You love your child the most and you know your child best. You can trust yourself on this one. You can follow your gut feeling and your intuition. Usually when you make a choice concerning your child, you have done all the research, you have looked at all the pros and cons, maybe you have even asked for some advice. When you finally make a decision, not everyone might agree with or understand the choice you made. But that’s okay. It is your child and your choice.

They won’t remember, but you will

I LOVE making a big deal out of every milestone and every holiday. Some people will think this is a bit silly, because surely your baby won’t remember this moment since they are so little. This however, doesn’t matter at all, because YOU WILL. You are also creating memories for yourself. And I love that one day my baby boy can look back at pictures of his first Christmas or his first birthday and see that his parents really cared and really tried to make it special.

Fill up your own cup first

When my son was really small, I never wanted to leave his side. I was breastfeeding and didn’t pump any milk so I didn’t want to leave the house without him (not even for half an hour), in case he got hungry. If he was crying non-stop and it was driving me insane, I would still hold him in my arms, even if I was crying myself, because I didn’t want to ‘abandon’ him. Mom guilt is real, but now I realize that sometimes the better option is to take 5 minutes for yourself to breathe so that you can recharge. This doesn’t make you a bad mom. It usually makes me a better mom. Taking time for myself is so so important for my mental health. Now I fill up my own cup first, so that my son can enjoy having a happy mom around.

Accept the help

That being said, accept the help! In the beginning I wanted to do everything myself: clean, cook, grocery shop, feed my son, hold my son, play with my son. I found it so so hard to accept help, even though we have a network of lovely friends and family around us who kept offering. I felt like I SHOULD be able to do it all myself. People always say it takes a village to raise a child. When your village shows up for you, don’t turn them away. Let someone else hold him for a while so you can take a nap and accept the goddamn lasagna.

Having a bad day doesn’t make you a bad mom

As much as I want to go the gentle parenting route, we all have bad days. You’re not a bad mom because you yelled at your kid once for throwing his sandwich against the wall. Breathe in, breathe out, we are all just trying our best.

Never apologize for taking too many pictures

I hate to say it, but they really do grow up so fast and change all the time. Sometimes I catch myself apologizing for taking so many pictures. My boyfriend sometimes jokingly asks me if there is one day where I didn’t take a picture of Leon since he was born. I sure hope there isn’t.