By Ginny Trierweiler, Ph.D., Author, Speaker, Parent and Leadership Coach
In various dialogues with parents, I asked the question “what do you wish you had known or understood earlier as a parent?”
Their thoughtful and wise responses have blown me away! I will share some here.
One mom said: It’s really disorienting how much your world just shrinks. I used to be this intelligent, accomplished woman who valued how much I could check off my to-do list every day. After I had a baby, I couldn’t get anything done! I felt like I was in a “Mommy Cave.” I would plan to practice my music while the baby napped, but that would be the time he would only nap half an hour rather than two hours. I would plan to just accomplish the grocery shopping and would be on the way there when the baby would have an explosive poopy diaper and I’d have to go back home.
Day after day, I had these experiences of not being able to accomplish any of my goals for the day. Here I was staying home all day and I couldn’t keep the house up or get a basic chore done. It was so frustrating. I felt really pathetic. So, what I wish I had understood earlier was that you have to have completely different expectations. You can’t hold yourself to the same kinds of goals where you value your accomplishments. Now, at the end of the day, instead of reviewing how many things I accomplished, I ask myself “did I connect with my son today?” And, if I did, it was a successful day.
Another mom says: With my first, I really didn’t take him around older children. I kind of worried that he would get hurt. Now that he’s in preschool, it’s so obvious how much he benefits from being around older children. And I can see how much his baby brother learns from being around him. I wish I had realized earlier, with my first child, how much they enjoy and benefit from being around older children.
Another says: I have learned that parenting is challenging and you make lots of mistakes and you just have to work at it every day. And you have to be okay with things not being calm all the time! It won’t always be how you expect it to be. You don’t have to fake like you’re on top of things all the time. You accept that you will make mistakes and forgive yourself — learn from your mistakes and move on. Trust that how things are unfolding is okay– it’s all living and learning.
I am in awe of these wise mommies! What have you learned that you would share with others, that you wish you had known earlier?