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Monday, November 19, 2018

I wish I had known before having kids.

If you could go back to the time right before you had children, what would you say to yourself? What advice would you share with the younger, inexperienced you? What gems of wisdom would you bestow upon yourself about parenthood...and life in general? I was a hot mess as a new mom... I know just what I would say.

Waaayy back in 2002, while my husband and I were in the love bubble of the honeymoon phase, we planned out our perfect little life together. [cue 50's sitcom music] We'd have 6 beautiful children (three boys and three girls), in a suburban neighborhood, we'd live in a house big enough for all 8 of us, The Husband would climb that corporate ladder at the company he worked for, and I would be the picture-perfect housewife (house: spotless, children: well-behaved, well-dressed, well-spoken. Dinner: on the table by five, healthy and delicious, every night).

Whose horrible idea was it to buy green colored bubbles?? 
Ahem...Let's just say that life has not panned out the way we'd envisioned.

Not. At. All.

If I could go back to the days before I had kids, I'd tell myself to let go of silly expectations and just love life one day, one hour, one moment at a time. I would tell that new mommy me that there is no such thing as a perfect parenting style and although you expect your kids to be little carbon copies of each other, nothing will be farther from the truth.

Each of your kids will be different. Very Different. What works for one will most definitely NOT work for the others... Your kids will be noisy, messy, loud, and imperfect ...and that is okay! NO, not just okay... WONDERFUL! One of my sons has the kind of personality that requires a lot of attention. He loves to be silly, wild, and he doesn't usually think of consequences before he does things.  He'll do just about anything to get a laugh. I once read a little saying in a friend's home that said, "Boy-a noise with dirt on it." This is the perfect definition for my boy. Discipline with him is difficult; techniques that work GREAT for him, are useless with the other two.

I would tell the younger me to be adaptable. Be teachable. Be humble. Parenting is about love. Be the best mom you can be for these beautiful souls you have been entrusted with. There will be times when you have to be strict, but be strict with love. The closest thing to perfect parenting is working toward finding that magic balance between teaching your children to be good people through example and discipline and allowing them to learn and grow on their own and in their own time. It's more a journey than a destination.

I wish I could go back and tell myself not to sweat the small stuff. Let them play in the mud, pull out all their toys and make a mess. Because messes clean up--and you cannot get back the time when they were little. Make the most of every day to make it count. I love this quote:

After the birth of our daughter, we received the heartbreaking news that we would not be able to have more children. I thought I would be okay with it, as we already had already been so blessed with our boys and our daughter. But, it has been a lot harder than I ever could have imagined. As I have watched my babies grow, and my friends and family members have had babies, it has surprised me how much I long to be a part of that new-parent group. To have just one more new baby. One more chance to soak up that new baby smell. Kiss those itsy bitsy newborn feet. Listen to the sweet newborn sounds, the coos and grunts and yes, even the cries.

If I could go back and talk to myself, I would tell myself not to blink. Babies grow, change and learn so fast. Enjoy every moment (even the 2 AM crying/feedings). Because those moments turn into days...days turn into years and in the blink of an eye you're face to face with a child who has opinions and dreams and a will of his/her own and you'll wonder where your baby went -- and where that short, precious time with your baby has disappeared to so quickly. Your heart will hurt longing to have the time back. Once the time is gone, you can't get it back. You will never have this day with your child again. Make the memories; Relish in the gift you've been given! Enjoy today...because it will be gone before you know it.

I would tell myself to enjoy that two-year-old who wants to sleep in your bed. Allow the four-year-old to choose her own outfit (even if it is straight up cat-lady). Let them help you with whatever you're doing, even if it means it will take three times as long. Always look for opportunities to teach. But most importantly, let everything you do be done in love. Because at the end of the day, they won't remember all the things you did with or for them... but they will always remember how you made them feel.

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