When I was a brand new mom I heard all kinds of crazy things from well-meaning people. Every time a stranger responded to my crying child (“well, somebody’s not happy”) or commented on the fullness of my hands, I would writhe in annoyance and think, “When my kids are older, I won’t say stupid things like that.” But a strange thing happened, my kids grew a little older. They stopped crying so much in public, and they got a little more independent (although my hands are still full, apparently). Once more, an even stranger thing happened, I started making the same comments that frustrated me when I was a first time mom.
This has caused me to realize two things. 1) I am no better than any other person throwing out cliches to total strangers and 2) there will be a day when I forget certain aspects of early motherhood –– it’s a fact of life. No matter how hard we will it NOT to happen, we’ll inevitably say something stupid to another human being. Because of this I have created a list of all the things about early motherhood I hope to remember when I’m a grandma.
- Never touch a random baby’s hands. Those precious, dimpled hands always go straight into the mouth. Instead, rub the back of the head or the bottom of their feet. And for the love, woman, stay out of their faces.
- Motherhood is hard, and all new moms are convinced they’re totally screwing it up. Be kind and unassuming with your words. They mean much more than you can imagine.
- Babies need schedules and sometimes those schedules are inconvenient. Don’t expect a ton of flexibility. A young mom’s sanity depends on schedules.
- Breastfeeding is stinking hard, and formula is expensive. Lesson: Feeding small people is MADNESS! Don’t make comments on the how, unless someone asks.
- Yes, young moms have their hands full, but darn it they can do a LOT with those two hands.
- There are some things we all have to figure out on our own. Believe it or not, 60-year-old self, you struggled a lot too.
- Friends got you through SO MANY hard times in the earlier days. Don’t forget how often you needed “your people” to talk you off the cliff. Give them a call if you haven’t in awhile. Or maybe you’re doing teleportation now . . . . In that case, why are you still reading this post? Go, teleport, now!
- Kids are messy. They sometimes break things, and they definitely spill a lot, like really, a LOT. I know you’re used to having nice furniture and decor, but can you please avoid turning your home into a museum? People still need to be able to “live” when they visit you.
- “Helping” a mom with her newborn baby doesn’t just mean snuggling baby. It means changing repulsive diapers, cooking meals, washing dishes, asking about mom, sitting in silence, hugging, giving space, wiping her tears, acknowledging the difficulty of newbornhood, and more. In short — just read the room. Ask her what she wants and needs and then give it to her.
The fact is this, one day I will be old, and likely crotchety. There will be a lot I forget, but there are a few things I’d like to remember. I hope this list will serve me well in my old age, but in case it doesn’t, give me grace, being old is crazy.
What do you hope to remember when you’re old and gray?