What's A-Parent

10 Lessons I’ve Learned Since Becoming A Mom (Twice)

"When it comes to parenting, nobody knows what they’re doing."

What's A-Parent is a series highlighting those who get real about the hardships that come with raising kids. These often untold stories help show parents they are not alone in their struggle, and are doing an amazing job.

The first time I wrote about being a parent was the day after my first child – my son – was born. I didn't "write" about it, actually: I just posted a series of pictures, because I had no idea what to say about parenthood, having experienced it for all of 12 hours, and was overwhelmed by the idea of saying anything at all, lest what I said turn out to be "wrong" or "not motherly enough" or some such ridiculousness. As I wrote in this post, "To write about my feelings for my baby is to open up conversation about those feelings, and they are so precious and so mine that it would be heartbreaking for me were they to be trivialized or misunderstood."

I mean, I used to hide pacifiers before taking pictures because I was scared that some unknown Internet person would yell at me that giving my baby a pacifier was a terrible, horrible thing to do. … Because what did I know? Maybe it was!

(Fact: Pacifiers are tiny little miracles, and if I could still convince my kindergartener and my preschooler to stop screaming by giving them one, I would.)

Six years later – my son will be SIX tomorrow – what I've come to realize is that it's not just "OK" to feel like you don't know what you're doing … it's a pre-requisite for inclusion in the Mom Club. When it comes to parenting, nobody knows what they're doing (and if they tell you they do, they are either making shit up, a unicorn, or Neil Patrick Harris, who is awesome at everything). Being able to write openly and honestly here about my experiences as a mother and how they've changed me in huge, huge ways over the years has been one of the most wonderful byproducts of running this site – and so today, since I'm feeling sentimental, I want to say thank you for letting me do that, and revisit a few of the parenting posts that have meant the most to me over the years.

Here's what I've learned.

1. You don't have to have "the perfect birth experience" to have the perfect birth.

My first birth experience was bad – so bad that I walked out of it feeling guilty; like I had failed.

What I (thankfully) figured out by the time my daughter arrived: There is no such thing as the "right" way to have your baby.

Do you have a child? Congratulations, you are a superhero and you can tell anyone who says that you "should" have done something differently to shove it.

2. The Golden Rule when it comes to breastfeeding: Your boobs, your choice.

For years, I danced around the topic of breastfeeding because I was so worried about being judged for having done it "imperfectly" (please).

Guess what? However – or even whether – you breastfeed is something you get to choose for yourself.

Your body. Your boobs. Your baby. Your choice.

3. You get to be a mess every time you have a baby, not just the first time. Hooray!

With your first baby, everyone's all "Ohhhh how can I help?!?!?!" When your second baby arrives it's like getting a puppy (or rather twenty puppies that never sleep and bark directly into your eardrums if you do): people will pet it and say that it's cute when directly confronted with it, but other than that, you're on your own.

Just because everyone expects you to be so super on top of things now that you've done this once (or twice) already, you still get to be a complete and utter – and unapologetic – disaster.

4. If you have postpartum depression (PPD), or feel like you need help for any other reason, ask for it.

I grew up believing that – barring "serious" mental disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, aka "things that happen to other people" – it is a sign of weakness to ask others to help you fix a problem in your head. And then, after the birth of my second child, I finally gathered the courage to say that I couldn't do it on my own.

It was among the best decisions I've ever made in my life.

5. Ignore everyone who tells you to "savor the moment," because they have definitely forgotten that "the moment" almost always involves poop.

It's a terrible, terrible side-effect of parenthood: everywhere (like seriously: EVERYWHERE) you go, everyone (EVERYONE) will stop you and tell you to "savor the moment" ("It goes by so fast!"). This will make you miserable because of course it will

But remember this: watching them grow up may feel like a tragedy, but it's not. It is the point.

6. Having a second child doesn't make you love the first one less.

I was scared of this, too. Terrified, in fact: I thought that my daughter's birth would mean that my relationship with my son was …not lost, exactly, but …dimmed, somehow. Changed.

You know that old chestnut about how you don't just have "space" in your heart for more than one child; your heart actually grows with each baby?

It's true.

7. You don't need many friends, but you need to treasure your real ones.

I did not understand the power of female friendships until strangely late in my life, but finally I get it: Our adult friendships, female or otherwise, have the potential to show us that we don't have to – shouldn't, in fact – rely on a romantic partnership to be everything we need.

It's a hard thing to remember when you're a grownup, and particularly when you're a grownup with small and wildly demanding kids.

It's important to remember anyway.

8. Whether you're a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, you cannot win the guilt game.

Working moms, SAHMs, whatever: none of us ever feel like we're doing well enough at anything. We're not giving enough to our work, or we're not giving enough to our families (forget about ourselves). This is something we all struggle with, and just knowing that simple fact: it helps.

9. It's OK to do something purely for yourself, even when you're a mom.

First, let's just get it out of the way: your boobs are never the same after you have a baby.

NEVER.

Second, I had a breast augmentation after my daughter's birth. And I felt really, really guilty about it, but I did it anyway (and made a video diary about it, obviously).

And?

I haven't regretted my decision once.

To be clear: I'm not recommending breast implants. I'm recommending that you let go of the mom guilt for long enough to figure out what you – not your partner, not your boss, not your kids – might actually want. And then do it.

Sofia Zhuravetc / Shutterstock 
Sofia Zhuravetc / Shutterstock 

10. Do not even attempt to plan a sexy night out. Like, ever.

The most important lesson that I've learned since becoming a parent: Children are vicious, vengeful little creatures, and if they even suspect that you are about to attempt to relax and/or do something fun that does not include them, they will put an end to that BS faster than you can say "vomit."

Speaking from experience. 

Twice. 

This post originally appeared on Jordan Reid's blog, Ramshackle Glam. In 2010, she created Ramshackle Glam to follow her experiments (and frequent failures) in the spheres of fashion, beauty, entertaining, and home décor. Since then, she's written two books – Ramshackle Glam (2014) and Carrying On (2016). 

Cover image via Unsplash

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