When you become a mother for the first time, you are flooded with advice, parenting tips, and other people’s stories about their experiences. Thirteen years in, while I certainly have so much more to learn, I have discovered some truths — truths that go beyond the right way to get your child to eat or sleep, or the most effective way to potty train. Some have been hard lessons. There have been times I had to check my ego at the door. There have been days when I ignored that voice inside of me telling me something wasn’t right for me and my family, but I went along with it anyway because everyone else was doing it. There are more important things to know when you become a mother that go beyond the typical guidance so many offer to you.
Every mother should know when to dig deeper, and when she needs to walk away and lock herself in the bathroom or take a drive alone. It does not make her weak to take a break; it makes her strong because she is doing what she needs to do, and she has the courage to ask for it.
Every mother should know that sometimes her child will scream, cry, and tantrum and she won’t be able to do anything to soothe them. Everything will end up fine, and it does not mean she is failing as a mother.
Every mother should know it is okay if she isn’t enjoying every moment. She is not a horrible person if she is counting down the minutes until bedtime.
Every mother should know she is not alone in this. It is going to take some getting used to. Everyone struggles at first — everyone — even if they don’t admit it.
Every mother should know it is all right to change her mind about her birth plan, the way she feeds her baby, or how she puts them to sleep.
Every mother should know it is fine to slow down, to say no, to take note when enough is enough, and to give herself permission to let go of anything that doesn’t feed her and her family.
Every mother should know she has the power to change her situation if she feels the need, and she should do it without explanation, in a way that works for her.
Every mother should know she is going to be judged and criticized no matter what she does. She should carry on anyway. She knows better than anyone what is working for her.
Every mother should know she is enough, she counts, she matters, and she should treat herself. It will be necessary to put her needs first once in a while.
Every mother should know she will get through the hard days. Those are the days that are so draining that they strip her of everything she has, and she will need to remind herself they won’t all be like this.
Every mother should know that just because someone is doing it differently than she is, it doesn’t mean they are doing it better. She doesn’t have to listen to the advice, even if she asked for it.
Every mother should know to listen to her inner voice, the one that prompts her to stay away from certain situations, people, or places.
Every mother should know she is going to screw up, and her kids are still going to love her just as much.
Every mother should know that if she needs help, it is okay to ask for it. She should keep asking until she gets what she needs.
Every mother should know that she is going to have nights that are long. Sometimes she will be kept up by her baby, and sometimes the person keeping her from falling into a deep slumber will be her.
Every mother should know how to cope with regret and feeling less-than. No matter what she does, on certain days she will have these feelings.
Every mother should know how to practice a new kind of patience, especially with herself.
Every mother should know this will be the scariest and most rewarding thing she will ever do.
Every mother should know how important self-care is, because without it, everything else will just fall apart.
And above all else, every mother should know that through her children’s eyes she is perfect. She is everything to them. Even when she feels like she is failing, she is enough. Even when she feels like everyone else knows what they are doing while she feels lost, she will find her way. And it will always be enough.