Let’s face it. I’m a mom of an almost 5- and an almost 3- year old. I still have loads of preteen and teenager fun ahead of me. I’m really not in a position to be handing out parental advice. But, if I could give my first time pregnant self some advice, the following would be it:
- Boys and girls are way different. Even more than you think.
- Siblings are WAY different. Same family, same DNA – COMPLETE opposites in many, many ways. Learn to parent each child in the way they need.
- It is not your business what other people think of you, your kids, or your parenting style. Ignore the looks and comments, especially of strangers.
- Say “yes” more than you say “no”.
- To quote Maya Angelou, “When your child walks into the room, does your face light up?” Even when you are tired and the deployment is long and you can barely open your eyes – smile at them when they come to you. They look to our faces to know how they should feel about themselves. I’ve done this with my son (and then not done it) and the complete difference in his attitude, behavior and countenance is astonishing.
- Keep trying, but know that perfection is an illusion. You’re already the perfect parent for the children YOU have. Even on the rough days, keep trying. Even when mistakes are made (and there will be TONS), try again.
- Apologize to your kids. When you screw up – ‘fess up. It really is remarkable how even the little ones respond to an honest “I’m Sorry”. Plus, it teaches them that we aren’t perfect and just because we are grown-ups doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes.
- You really aren’t going crazy when you think you could kill them one minute, but completely melt and love them more than life itself the next.
- You will be able to function on WAY less sleep than you ever dreamt possible.
- You will never sleep as well as you did before being pregnant and having kids.
- You will learn about subjects that you never really cared about, simply because it interests your child. (Construction vehicles are the current favorite in my house. My son loves words like hydraulic, crank shaft, crane boom, loader, etc.)
- Get used to peeing with an audience.
- You will never be so certain as to what you will “always” and “never” do as a parent as you are right before you give birth. You can have it all mapped out and it’s all going to get blown to smithereens once that little person enters the picture.
- Never say never. Or always.
- The love you have for your children will knock you on your face. I feel like it’s the closest thing on Earth we have to getting a glimpse of what God must feel for us.
There’s my list. What about you? What parenting advice would you give your “before-kids-self”?