written March 22, 2019
A new mom, brand new mom, with big eyes of excitement and a little (or a lot) of fear of the unknown. At this phase, the first phase of motherhood, everything is new, and we want to do absolutely everything right by our baby. We try so hard to do everything perfectly and sometimes it can feel like we are failing. Everything is foreign; this is all very new territory. We are constantly searching for balance between our instincts, what others are telling us and what a book or website says. It can take a while to find your groove and get into a routine. You are still trying to figure everything out and so is your baby. This phase is so beautiful; one of the greatest transitions of our lives and it can be very overwhelming too. As new mothers, we strive for perfection and probably read or google looking for answers too often, which worries us even more. We also aim high and hold ourselves accountable. After all, our sweet baby is helpless and depends on us. Personally, looking back, I bathed him probably way too often and washed every article of clothing in Dreft for at least his first year of life. I gave him his first haircut (oops) and badly wanted the expensive, premium diapers. All of his clothes and shoes were brand new, he had absolutely everything we thought he could possibly need and more. Afterall, I researched everything on our registry as if I were going for my PhD in Buy Buy Baby. I even had a binder full of all of the important magazine articles, product warranties, documents from the doctor and more.
Amazon Mom (Aka Shutterfly mom)
I felt like I hit the jackpot- Amazon Mom was a new thing and I happily paid my (then) $49 annual subscription to have 2-day delivery and diapers on my doorstep. I was on maternity leave and Hunter slept a bunch as a newborn, to my surprise. I had time to research and look for all of the answers to what we were experiencing with a newborn. We needed a ton of diapers and wipes. Of course, I didn’t want to go out of the house all of the time with a newborn. And all of the other things I thought we needed were at my fingertips, on Amazon, from pumping accessories, lanolin, pacifiers, diaper cream, teething toys and even my nursing bras. 2 day free shipping, what more did I need? The baby things in our house really began to accumulate. Also, in this phase, you may learn very quickly how to be a mommy photographer, create a Twitter account or hashtag for your baby, document everything and make Shutterfly books regularly. I kid you not; Hunter, our first born, has a Shutterfly book called “My first week of Life”.
You reach a point where you are ready to begin introducing solid foods and swear we will never feed our baby McDonalds or processed food ever. Like, never ever. Not even when they are 12. We strive to make our baby only organic, homemade fruits and veggies and later grains, and even chia seeds and you document and chart all of the new foods weekly. There are new products on the market that help with making, storing and freezing homemade baby food. If your baby is in daycare, some may provide the most specific and lengthy instructions about the feeding of their baby while not realizing (at all) that the caregiver at daycare working in our son’s/daughter’s room, likely knows all of this better than we do because she handles multiple babies daily and has for years now. We stress and worry if they are getting enough nutrition and healthy balance of fruits and veggies. If their dirty diaper looks weird, after eating said organic fruit and veggies, we Google it. Feeding the baby is constantly on our mind and boy is it time consuming.
Pregnant Mom, aka tired as hell mom. Now you have a toddler and are afraid of introducing your first baby to a new baby almost as if you are cheating on him/her. You fear for the full 9 months of pregnancy about how they are possibly going to handle not being an only child, having a new baby in the house and dividing your time as if no one in the world had ever had a sibling before. The worry is so intense you forget that you yourself actually have a sibling, are fine (mostly), and in fact realize your sibling may have been the greatest gift in your childhood life. I know my brother is. You need someone to remind you that giving your baby a sibling is a beautiful thing, a friend for life. But regardless, you are tired and begin, for the first time in your motherhood, to let things slip a little. You consider dozing off on the couch while watching Saturday morning cartoons. Or worse yet, you buy Gerber baby food (gasp!) and stray from your routine. You might skip bath night here or there because you are simply exhausted. You also worry about the costs of another baby and realize you can’t always buy Honest diapers, $18 baby wash and all organic food. Naturally, your mind starts thinking about efficiency in your budget, time and life. Can we reuse these clothes, the crib, car-seat and stroller? Yes, you definitely can. And hopefully many of your larger baby items are gender neutral.
Two under Two Mom
And then baby comes along. That amazing sensation, all over again. The incredible smelling head, teeny tiny feet, sweet yawns and the newborn size diapers. How much you have already forgotten! Things really start getting into perspective here. And then there’s guilt, mom guilt. Your first cries because you are holding your second. Your second cries because, well, babies cry. And then you cry too. My goodness does that hurt. So much transition has to take place for months to come. But eventually #1 warms up to #2 and actually likes their new baby. You see them interact for the first time and it warms your heart like nothing ever has before in your entire life, ever. And you cry again. Happy tears, sad tears, this phase is the fullest of emotions. This is also one of the many phases where you need to reach out for help, if it isn’t being offered already. I am the absolute worst at asking for help from anyone else except my husband. Do yourself a favor and ask for a couple of hours here or there for either personal time or just simply the ability to take a nap.
Mom of Multiple kids
A few months pass and once again you have found your groove. You learn that you can reuse all of those baby clothes, blankets, car-seat, bottles, stroller, baby carrier, etc, etc. But you upgrade your diaper bag from your old designer one to a new handy, extra-large duffle bag size to handle your size 1 and size 6 diapers, bottle and sippy cups, wipes, snacks, and clothes for 2 (see photo below). And you couldn’t be happier! Yes, you are running off coffee and fumes but you feel like a million bucks when you get everyone dressed and out the door in the morning as if you have conquered the world. Now two lives depend on you and Dad and you realize THIS is the time of your life. Who needs sleep anyway?
If it ain’t broken Mom
Your new routine becomes normal, you match their clothes for fun and your oldest can talk now, is potty training and can be a sweet little helper. I remember Hunter getting a breast pad and putting it on Deacon’s head in an effort to help. And when I really needed it, he knew how to run to the other room and get a diaper. You can start bathing them together and maybe, just maybe, things are getting easier. You feel yourself relax a little and you don’t worry so much about the small stuff. You are a pro by now! A fly on the wall might say, “Aren’t you going to do something about that?” when the kids are in disarray. But no one is getting hurt, or in danger and for goodness sake, you just sat down. “It’s fine.” you say way too often and your parents wonder why you are letting them do that. You might even rip tags off clothes and put them right on your kids without even washing them! (Ha! Newborn Mom would have never done this.) This may also be the phase where you realize your social life is nonexistent (unless you count meet ups at the park and) and your clothes may be going out of style a bit. And that new song you love so much (“Shut up and Dance with me”) has been out for many months now. Have you bought any new clothes since you purchased your maternity wardrobe? When is the last time you and your husband had a date night? Someone, will you please volunteer to take the kids to the movies or park for a couple of hours on any random day so that I can clean the house?
I correlate this with the tremendous impact of Amazon Mom. Holy cow, all of the sh*t laying around. At first I wanted to and did save everything. Then I had to realize, I have 18 years (×3 boys) of saving stuff. I simply can’t save everything. Do you know how many times I have had to make up excuses for when Hunter catches me and is pulling his school work, old broken toys, etc. out of the trashcan or recycling? He gives me such a hard time. I swear he now checks the trash on a regular basis to make sure I am keeping all of his stuff. And when I am cleaning up the playroom? If I find old broken plastic pieces without identification, an old McDonalds toy (because yes I take them to Playland and feed them nuggets sometimes) or a toy that won’t work because it had a missing part? Trash. (Or donate if I can) Old stained shirts? Trash. The dump-load of classwork and work sheets? I’m sorry but Trash/ recycle. I can easily bring home 50 sheets of paper per week; there is no way I can keep it all. Sometimes, the clutter gives me anxiety and I threaten to throw it all away if they create this hurricane mess in their playroom ever again. I don’t have a housekeeper and I am just sometimes looking for a little bit of order to our chaos. When Christmas comes, I prefer (inexpensive) experiences or outings rather than adding to the piles of plastic toys upstairs. I know that they love their toys and they do actually play with them all. However, it is overwhelming, the amount of toys inside our home and literally pouring to the outside too. I also overly use the phrase, “This is why we can’t have nice things!” If you cannot tell, this is my current phase of motherhood. I am, self-proclaimed, trashcan Mom.
This is the season for mini-vans, huge SUVs and baseball, soccer, basketball, ballet, piano and karate. I mean I can fit 3 more car-seats in my ginormous vehicle and that is in addition to the 3 already there. It is all about efficiency and running from one extracurricular to the next. How do you run 3 boys in 3 different directions when both parents have extraordinarily busy and demanding jobs? I do not know because I am not here yet. I still have one who is a half year shy of playing baseball (and pees in public outside the dugout during his brother’s games) and another in diapers. But I know plenty of parents who do it and juggle everything else on their plate. One of my colleagues sits in his car and watches his son’s soccer practice while attending his online class live session (toward his advanced degree). I know this phase will certainly be busy but I am prepared, third row and all, for when the time comes. I look at this phase with fondness because by the time they are this age, kids can tie their shoes, zip their own coat, get themselves a snack and hopefully know how to hustle a bit.
Light at the end of the tunnel Whether existent or not, this is the phase that we all aspire to. The day it gets easier. I mean, it has to, right? You lean on your mommy tribe to give you insights and tell you that it does get easier. One day they will be wiping their own butt, reading a book, doing homework and caring about their grades. This is uncharted territory for me and I have no experience from which to draw. However, I know as there is light at the end of the tunnel, and things get easier as they get older they are probably less likely to need our help. Wyatt is just 1 year old and so I am a ways away but this phase may be just as hard- to accept that they can do it on their own and don’t need us for every little thing. It may be freeing and equally saddening. For example, my middle son, 4 year old Deacon takes a good 2 minutes to say bye to me each morning with multiple kisses and hugs standing in the doorway to his preschool classroom. He lets me go eventually and finally says, You’re the best! I say it back. It’s our thing. I can’t imagine when he is 8 and in 2nd grade that he wants to kiss and hug his Mama for 2 minutes before heading to school. But I’ll just always have to cling to and remember all of the beautiful phases we lived through when they were young.