So a really crappy thing happened to the Sisterhood this weekend: Ellen had to have urgent surgery for what they thought was a twisted ovary, but turned out to be appendicitis. Besides being in severe pain, she was also not around to make our List together—something we really love doing every week (Thanks, Stasha!).
This was the list we had decided upon before they put her on heavy doses of pain meds. Out of respect to my dear fallen friend, I am honoring the list, but obviously without the full input (we really do talk about this stuff) of my blogging buddy and tempered by a heavy dose of sentimentality.
We both have our oldest “babies” in high school now, so time has marched on, taught us a few things, and even had its way with us. Time has also dealt us a healthy dose of perspective and if we were to go back in time and meet our younger selves, these are the . . .
10 Things We Would Do Now as New Moms
1. Chill out. Looking back at how worked up I could get about certain things (milestone meeting, potty-training, and early school stuff), I cringe for my younger me. Time has taught me that babies who walked at 8 months don’t look any different than those who first walked at 15 months when they are entering kindergarten. I could have used a nice telephoto lens into the future back then. . . or a back rub and a glass of wine.
2. Trust the Momma instincts. I second-guessed myself a lot back then. Time has proven to me that my gut instincts where my kids are concerned are dead on. I truly didn’t learn this lesson until my 4th child was born. Something was just “off” with him, and I was worried—that deep, sick-in-my-stomach, can-barely-say-the-words-aloud kind of scared—about what could be wrong.
I burst into the doctor’s office at his one year check-up, held my head up, and laid out my case. And, wonder of wonders, this beautiful doctor did not dismiss any of my concerns. As it turned out, Deacon had really, really poor eyesight correctable with glasses. From the moment that baby held my face in his hands when he finally saw me through his new glasses, I have been a new mom. I would love to hug the younger me and tell her just how smart and capable she was.
3. Read Mom Blogs. My first baby was born in 1997. We barely did email back then. The online support and verification that my kids were NOT, despite all the evidence I was amassing, the spawn of Satan would have been extremely helpful and comforting. The lovely network of mothers supporting and encouraging one another through this big adventure would have been oh so welcome. . .
4. Find a Flock. . . . As was the very real, very supportive network we found in our local MOMS Club. Finding another mom that is right with you on the road is so important—birds of a feather and all that. You can all muddle through this parent thing together. And misery DOES love company.
6. Play, Play, Play. I played a lot with my kids, but this easy time with toys and silliness is over way too soon. Savor every minute.
7. Get a Decent Haircut. I couldawouldashoulda have taken a little more time for me from the very beginning. I had 3 kids in 3 years, and my needs were deadlast in every equation. Looking back, this was a mistake in every respect. I let my family consume me, and it showed. Once I decided to take some time for me and scheduled some time for that decent haircut, I also developed the confidence that I was on the right track.
8. Write Down All the Funny Things My Kids Said. I have always been a fairly decent recorder of our lives. I even tried scrapbooking for awhile until Baby #4 came along. But I wish, wish, WISH that I had kept a notebook with me at all times and gotten every last scrap of adorable and funny. Kids get big and beautiful and strong and competent, but they definitely lose their cute factor and you miss it when it’s gone. It would be nice to have every last morsel to savor when those days are behind you.
9. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! I had a honeymoon baby nine months after I moved to Maine. I had a few people I knew from work, but no real support network AT ALL. This is something I would definitely insist upon doing now.
I would definitely take Ellen’s advice to get a babysitter at least twice a month so my husband and I could have a break simultaneously. As Ellen said, “Without the drudgery of the kids strangling you both, you can remember why you brought them into this world and discover that you do still like each other. This is a suggestion that usually draws a lot of protest from new moms, but I can’t stress its importance enough. Maybe I could convince everyone that it is easier than a mental breakdown?” Amen, Sister!
10. Appreciate the moment. It seems silly to explain this one, but I would ssssssllllllloooooowwwww down. I would breathe in their little baby smells until I couldn’t NOT smell them. I would just really, really look at them EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Ellen once said that mothering infants and toddlers was the hardest thing she ever did, and she did time in a trauma center. Stay strong, Sisters.
Thank you again to Stasha for her Monday Listicles—our favorite way to start our week. And a big thanks to Christine at Random Reflectionz for her prompt. Head on over and check out her lovely blog with her “musings on life, love, and humanity.”
And a really, really, really big thank you to the blogging community and our friends who have been so supportive of Ellen during this health crisis. We appreciate all the thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes. Erin and Ellen
By Ellen Williams Erin Dymowski