Being a young mom comes with it's fair share of positives and negatives. I always wanted to be a young mom and I wouldn't change that decision for anything in the world... but I there are things about having a baby so young that I wouldn't want to ever re-live. The main one was mom-guilt. I remember having an insane amount of mom-guilt when Noah was a baby. Looking back, it seems crazy that I felt that way because I was such a good mom to him. Andy and I were head over heels in love with him and did everything in our power to be the best parents to him. But because I was so young, I often looked at other people for validation that I was doing it all right instead of looking inward at myself and our life. If I would've just looked our our happiness and stability at that time, I would've seen that we were doing everything just right. But I didn't... I looked at other people and what they were doing. Actually, I looked at everyone to see what they were doing and I picked out the very best things that they were doing and tried to be the exact same. If a mom was breastfeeding for two years, I wanted to. If they did crafts a lot, I wanted to do them everyday. If they went to a lot of activities, I signed up for all of the activities. However, no matter what I did, it never seemed like enough. I just wanted to get better and better at this mom thing. Everyday I would see another thing that another mom was doing that I wasn't doing yet, and I thought I had failed in that area. At that time of my life, I had no concept of a highlight reel. I just assumed that these parents did all the best things all of the time and I didn't understand why I couldn't keep up or think of it myself. For years, I lived in what I felt like was the shadow of other moms, trying to be a great mom just like them.
It wasn't until Eden (my third baby) was born that I started maturing and figuring out the mom thing for myself. For starters, I realized that those other moms felt just like me. We were all just trying to do our best every single day. Secondly, I realized that they were only posting their good days when they did fun things. I realized they had lots of days that they played inside and made messes or watched morning cartoons, or stopped breastfeeding sooner than I thought... but they just weren't posting about those things. Third and most importantly, I realized what mattered to me. Sometimes the things that mattered to me didn't match what mattered to other parents and sometimes they did. And that was okay. That mentality opened my eyes into a part of parenting that I hadn't ever seen before, but I loved and cherished more than anything. When I focused on my values, instead of other people's values, I enjoyed my time more with my kids and I was more present with them.
As more years have passed, I don't even have to think about those things anymore. I know what matters to my family and I focus on that alone. One thing though that I have now that I didn't have as a young mom is that I appreciate really little things. As a young mom I was so focused on everything and with being the best, that I never really valued the small things that made me a good mom. I don't know if this is going to sound crazy to some of you reading this, but there are two things that bring me an emmense amount of happiness as a mom. They are buying my kids winter jackets and seeing my kids fall asleep in the living room. Isn't that wild? Two very basic things... two "requirements" almost to parenting are the two things that make me feel like the best. 12 years ago I wouldn't have considered myself a good mom unless my baby ate strictly organic foods, knew sign language, was exclusively breastfed, and was enrolled in mommy & me music lessons. Now I feel like a great mom if my child has a winter coat. The irony.
Here's the thing though. Generational curses are hard to break. I didn't understand that then. It wasn't until a few years ago that I really started to unpack everything I went through as a child and really started appreciating every single time I changed the path for my kids. That's what make these moments so special to me.
When I was in high school, I didn't have a winter jacket. I could have asked my grandma and she would have gotten me one... but I didn't because I lived in a constant state of protecting my mom's secrets. There were years that my mom didn't buy me anything because any money she had went to necessities or to drugs. So a winter jacket wasn't part of that. There was day I remember vividly. It was a really cold winter day that I didn't have anything warm to wear. I figured I would be fine because all I had to do was walk into school, it would take me a maximum of 5 minutes and then I would be warm. I didn't think about what people would think because I didn't have a choice anyway. As soon as I walked in though, the assistant principal grabbed me and gave me a jacket from the lost and found pile to wear for the day. And then one of my "friends" told me that his mom saw me walking into school and called me a slut for wearing a tank top on a day as cold as this. I'm not going to even go into what kind of mom would call a GIRL a slut for not having a coat on... the point was that I was really embarrassed by the whole interaction, with the assistant principal and my friend. A winter jacket became a thing to me... something I didn't have when I needed it... and now to something I will never let my kids go without. Now, every single year at the first hint of cool air, we load our kids into the car and buy them all a new jacket. When we get into the car and I see them with a new coat, it fills my heart with so much love and happiness and I feel like I have "made-it" as a mom.
Also, in high school again... my house wasn't safe. There were people that came in and out all of the time, we had sketchy room mates, and most of the time my mom wasn't home anyway. The only place I felt remotely safe in was my room. I would stash food and drinks in my room and I would get home and lock the door as soon as I walked in. That was my only safe place. So now, as a mom, when my kids fall asleep on the living room floors, or write stories like the one I posted below, I feel so much pride. I have so many pictures of my kids sleeping on the floor of our living room because it never gets old to me. They feel safe enough in their home to sleep wherever their little heads rest. I have changed the path and my children don't ever have to walk down the one that I did.
I know that these things seem like such little things... but this is what age has done to me. I have stopped caring what every one else is doing and stopped trying to live up to someone else's expectations. I have even stopped trying to live up to all of my own crazy expectations. I still appreciate some of the same things I did when I was younger-the things that I would see other moms do and want to be like-- like that my kids are in all the sports, or when I do crazy crafts, or build forts outside, or take Pinterest-worthy trips. But now, I get the privilege that comes with growth and wisdom. I get to appreciate the small things. I get to appreciate breaking generational curses. I get to appreciate the winter coats and living room naps.
Below is an assignment from Adella about her favorite spot in the house and what inspired me to write this. "I can sleep and rest." <3 <3 <3