Hey Y’all. It’s Erin.
Recently, I’ve been doing “self discovery” journal prompts.
I’ve just been searching on pinterest or google and trying out some that I find.
It’s been my effort towards self care.
Most of the time they’re so deep that I struggle to answer.
“Describe your perfect day.”
“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
“What would you do with $1000?”
These are just a few of the ones that I’ve had a hard time answering.
I thought that they’d be easy and fun to answer.
However, self reflection tends to take some time and a lot of thought.
This one really settled on my brain as I thought about motherhood. It made me think about what I would tell myself when I was pregnant.
“What advice would you give your younger self?”
I want to share my response in an open letter to new parents.
Dear New Parent,
The most important piece of advice I would give is to trust your gut.
You know your child.
I wouldn’t advocate against ignoring medical advice, but I would encourage you to advocate for what you feel is best.
My daughter took much longer to reach her big body milestones.
She rolled over late, took awhile to pull or sit up, didn’t walk until 14 months, and now as we reach her 2nd birthday, she can’t jump.
Something always felt off to me. People said things like “she’ll catch up,” “some kids talk and others walk, don’t worry.”
I noticed that other kids her age had more endurance than her. They could not only walk better than she could, but they could do it for longer.
She would get tired and beg me to carry her.
No matter how often people normalized what I was seeing, in my gut I knew something was off.
I pushed for a physical therapy referral even though it felt like no one was taking my seriously.
The physical therapist took me seriously. She has flat feet and low muscle tone.
Even though she’s meeting milestones, the quality of how she’s meeting them is diminished. She tires quickly and doesn’t have the core body strength that she needs.
Others made me feel dramatic. I questioned my own judgement.
At the end of the day though, I trusted my gut– and I was right.
Maybe I would have taken her to a physical therapist and they would have squashed all my fears.
However, when I laid my head down at night I would have known that I did everything that I could to advocate for my little one and felt proud of trusting my gut.
The persistence paid off and was well worth it to know that she’s getting the help that she needs.
Next new parent, be flexible.
There’s a couple directions I want to go with this one.
First, be flexible with yourself.
There’s so many ways to raise children, give birth, feed your children and so forth. There’s no right or wrong way as long as you’re doing what’s best for your children and family.
Just don’t feel stuck.
You can try something and if it doesn’t work, cool. No worries. Just try something else.
It’s really all about finding what works for your family.
Which leads me to the stay at home vs working outside the home debate that many of us struggle with.
It’s okay to try it both ways or a mixture of those ways. You don’t have to choose one and then be locked into it.
I was a stay at home Mom, and then went through a divorce. Now my daughter goes to daycare.
It destroyed my soul when I couldn’t be a stay at home Mom anymore. I felt like this epic failure.
But after some reflection back on it, going to work has been the best thing for my mental health.
I had no idea how isolated, anxious and depressed I’d become.
I was so hell bent on this idea that staying home with her was the only way that I could be a good Mom.
Turns out, I feel like I can give her so much more when all of my energy wasn’t focused on her.
There’s no right or wrong here. It’s about what works for you. Be flexible enough to recognize that what works for you might change.
And that’s okay.
Lastly, enjoy it.
There’s so much pressure on parents. It’s deserved. You’re helping a tiny human become who they’re meant to be.
But it’s a fun journey.
Don’t forget to enjoy the giggles, the snuggles, and the triumphs.
There’s going to be a million firsts.
That first smile? By far my favorite.
Kids can be jerks. You’re going to feel like you’re not doing it right.
There’s a lot of pressures and feelings of guilt or failure.
Don’t allow those to be the only feelings.
The most precious gift that you can give your child is your time. In return, it’s going to be the most precious gift that they give you.
Enforce the rules. Teach them how to be productive members of society that are compassionate, articulate and brilliant.
But there’s also silly, creative and musical.
Embrace these moments. Have fun with these moments.
Children see the world through a different lens.
Babies are fascinated by watching the simplest things. Toddlers explore areas that have become mundane to our adult eyes. Kids question things that we’ve long forgotten in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives.
Take just the smallest moment to look at the world through their eyes and share that special time.
This was what I thought to myself when I was answering the question of what I’d tell my younger self, and in turn what I wanted to share with you.
Parenthood is a difficult transition and it’s okay not to have it figured out, as long as you’re trying your best.
I will probably read this 5 or 10 years from now and have way more and perhaps even different advice for myself.
What would you tell yourself when you first started parenthood if you could go back? What was the advice did received as a new parent?
Wishing you all the best,