Mistakes I’ve Made as a Mom, So You Don’t Have To
Moms don’t make mistakes, right? I was so convinced that was true growing up, but I doubt my children will ever think that way. I find myself constantly having to apologize to them for my temper or rash demeanor. The reality is: mamas make mistakes. Sometimes they are simple: like cutting the same kid’s nails twice and missing another one until they have talons. Or realizing it is 11am and you still haven’t changed the baby’s diaper. These mistakes have simple fixes- and I have done both more times than I care to admit.
But what about the bigger mistakes? The ones you have to learn from. The ones that require time spent reflecting and learning how to do things differently. Those are the fun ones! (Read that last line in a sarcastic tone.) We all make mistakes, and unfortunately pregnancy and childbirth doesn’t change that. So here are 6- and believe me there are many, many more- mistakes I’ve made as a Mom, so you don’t have to!
Mistake #1: Thinking I Had to Be Super Mom
If you are a mom already you probably remember this moment, if you are expecting- get ready because it’s coming! It’s the moment they send you home. Oh, how I had waited for this moment. Labor was over, the scary part was done. In hindsight, I had overly romanticized what was to come next. That should have been obvious since I thought I was coming home with a baby and a flat tummy..
We loaded up the car, shut the doors and drove home to our new life. Overwhelming joy quickly faded to just overwhelm.
That’s it. That’s all there is. You push a baby out and boom suddenly you’re a mom.
What do I do if he won’t sleep, or won’t wake up to eat? Am I feeding him enough? Too much? How do you know if he is getting anything? Has he peed today? Is this poop normal? WHY DID THEY GIVE ME CPR INSTRUCTIONS!?
I can’t breathe!
Oh my gosh! Is he breathing?!
Okay, he’s breathing and now I’ve woke him up.. Good job, mom..
This is when I concocted the plan of all plans. I decided to do nothing but watch him. If he slept (which was rare) I watched. When he ate, I watched. When he watched the ceiling fan, I watched him. Nothing could happen if I never took my eyes off of him. I was a mom now. I didn’t need sleep, food, showers, or time alone!
Mama, listen to me, if you hear nothing else I say please hear this: God is watching even when you aren’t. You can’t do it all and you don’t have to. You have the instincts needed to protect your baby. Trust yourself, pray, do your best, and let God have the rest!
Mistake #2: Questioning My Instincts
Something innate happens when you become a mother. I don’t know that you can pinpoint the moment you receive it, but you can often pinpoint the moment you realize you possess it. The trick is learning to trust this new skill and I have in fact made that mistake before. (More than once, but who’s counting?)
No one tells you before you have kids how many people will want to hold them. No one warns you how many random people you will have to fend off. Nowadays, I can often spot them from a mile away. I usually practice baby wearing simply for convenience, but in public it serves a dual role. (I still had to argue with a woman the other day who wanted me to take him out and let her hold him.) But as a new mama, I wasn’t sure how to say no when someone asked to see him- or better yet when someone peeled him from my arms insisting they were a “great granny”.
Listen, I know I am going to be the old lady trying to hold all the babies. I will be the one in the nursing home with 6 baby dolls, I can already guarantee it, if I live that long. But you will know when something is off. You know when someone is reaching for your baby and your gut twists and your mama bear growl builds up in your throat- trust it. God gave you that instinct. Don’t question it, just trust it!
Mistake #3: Assuming I am the only Mom struggling
I feel this way still so often, but over and over again I am reminded that truly nothing is new under the sun. Every mama knows what it is like to go to the bathroom with an audience. Every mama knows what it is like to hide and eat a snack in .3 seconds like some kind of rabid animal. Mamas all over the world, every color, every nationality, every tongue- all yelling “Don’t lick that!”
Motherhood is hard. Some days you amaze yourself. You’re calm even when your two year old is thrashing on the floor over not getting apple juice. You finish chores, schoolwork, laundry, and plan dinner for the week while still finding time to read a book or enjoy a cup of coffee. Other days… Well, you know the ones. We all have them.
You have 60 plates spinning at once, and suddenly without any warning, something happens. A kid throws up on the couch. Your five year old decides to cling indefinitely to a ridiculous lie about holding a squirrel. Or everyone has an attitude about everything. (That pretty well sums up this past week..) Boom! One plate comes crashing down, followed by another, and another until you find yourself screaming in the shrapnel. You’re not alone. We all have those days. We all struggle. That part is only human, don’t ever think you are the only one.
Mistake #4: Not Talking to Anyone
This is my downfall (one of many). When I really struggle with something, I hide it. I bury it deep down inside. I wallow in it, cry over it, and when it is resolved- then I talk about going through it. With both of my boys I had baby blues. It wasn’t full blown postpartum depression (thankfully, if you are struggling with PPD, please talk to someone, you are not alone!) but it was still suffocating.
The first time around I didn’t understand my emotions. I had this perfect, healthy baby- I should be happy. But I wasn’t. I didn’t eat; I cried all the time (unless someone was around). When I was alone, I would pray to die if this was the kind of mom I was going to be. And then at about the two week mark, I was suddenly fine. I told my husband what I had went through like it was no big deal and of course he was mortified that I had been battling this all on my own.
Then I did it again back in December. I thought I knew how to handle it right this time. Instead I kept saying, “I’m really struggling with my hormones right now.” And as soon as anyone would try to respond I would insist I was fine and ignore them.. Mistakes, mistakes. I’ll make them so you don’t have to.
Talk to someone. Whether it is postpartum, hormones, anxiety, worry, or even just needing a friend. Don’t go it alone. You are not a bad mom for having emotions!
Mistake #5: Putting My Kids First
This one for some may be slightly controversial, so let me add my disclaimer:
This is in relation to your husband, not yourself, not your boyfriend, your fiancé, your best friend, your dog, etc. The one you made the “for better or worst” vows to. This is also a generalized mistake. I don’t mean if there isn’t enough food to go around or when your child is sick. This is average, everyday marriage advice, so try not to get carried away in the made up scenarios.
Now back to my mistakes.
It is so easy to put kids first. Let’s be real here, they’re needy and demanding, and we, as mamas, feel compelled to respond to that. But let’s slow down for a second and look at the big picture. If a marriage struggles, kids suffer. When a marriage crumbles, kids get caught in the middle. When a marriage fails, the kids’ lives get turned upside down. Putting your husband and your marriage first is loving your kids well.
Marriage, if you are a Christian, should be a reflection of Christ and the church. Don’t take that lightly, your children are watching. Be the example for them of how to be a wife or what to look for in a wife. Don’t put your kids above your husband.
Mistake #6: Temper, Temper
I don’t want to confess to this one. Oh sure, my kids have temper tantrums, but not me. I’m as calm as a summer rain. I really want to leave it at that, but quite frankly, I can be a hurricane. The strange thing is some days I keep my cool without even having to think about it. My mom even still gets on to me for laughing and being too laid back when my kids are wilding out sometimes. But there are days where, for no reason whatsoever, I am awful.
I used to pray for patience on those days and then I got a dose of reality I didn’t really want.. Patience is often a reflection on the things around you. “I need to be patient in waiting on them to do x,y,z..” Patience wasn’t my problem. Self control was. I can see that in my five year old easily. She really needs to learn some self control, but it hurts to admit that I do too. But perhaps we can learn it together.
Mamas, I don’t know how to tell you to never have an off day. If you know the secret please tell me!! But I know this: keep praying, keep growing, apologize to your kids, and try again. Don’t just assume this is who you are and let it go. We can do better. I’m trying to do better. Our kids are worth it.
The Beauty of Mistakes
The beauty of mistakes is simple: we learn from them. They say experience is the best teacher and I hope that some of my experience will keep you from making the same mistakes. But if you do mess up, as we all do and will continue to do, get up and try again. There is no perfect mother. But there are a whole lot of good ones!
Real life is messy and unedited. Learn from your mistakes. Share them with your children, apologize if necessary. Show them it’s okay to be vulnerable, to say you’re sorry, and to not have everything figured out. Teach them how to claim victory after staring down defeat. Keep trying. Keep showing up. If you have big mistakes, take them to the cross and leave them there. God can make beauty from all those broken pieces- He did it for me, and still is. Brush off the mistakes, and keep aiming! There is victory in the end.