“You won’t be perfect.” Advice for a first-time mom

I forget things. Frequently. I forget to turn the oven on. I forget to switch out the laundry so I rewash it only to forget again.When people ask how old my daughter is, I just say, “She’ll be two in March.” (I’m too fuzzy for math). I’m pregnant with my fourth child and the forgetfulness has amplified to a whole new level (I chronicled such pregnancy madness over on Des Moines Moms Blog).

While I cannot remember where I left my keys, I do remember the first time I failed as a mom.

It was almost seven years ago, and I hadn’t been a mom for even 24 hours. My husband had gone down to get our son’s carseat. There I sat, in the hospital room, anxiously awaiting to take my baby home. I picked him up, talked to him, and walked out the door to look at the other babies in the window. Not two seconds later I made eye contact with a nurse and she came running towards me. “You can’t leave your room with your baby!” Another nurse came over, checked my arm band, checked my son’s band and told us to get back to our room. I appreciated the concern for not wanting anyone to steal my child, but can you say AWKWARD?! I was so embarrassed, and then had to explain to my husband how I already screwed up. “Shouldn’t a mom know better?” I thought.

After it was evident that I was the mom to this sweet little baby, we took about thirty minutes figuring out how to fit him in his carseat. A nurse escorted us out to the parking ramp. Halfway down I realized I didn’t have my phone. I threw it away. Yes, I threw my phone out with my tray of breakfast. AWESOME. While the nurse ran back to the maternity floor to track down my phone (a pink flip phone, by the way!), there we stood, my husband, new baby and I in a cold and lonely skywalk waiting for a nurse, a stranger, to rescue me from my second mom fail. “How am I going to survive this motherhood thing?!” Before my first son was two days old, I broke an important safety rule and failed to be prepared. I was already an imperfect mother.

first time parents
We look so young…

Since that day, my resume of mom failures has continued to grow:

  • I’ve dropped my kids off at the sitter, church or friends houses without a diaper, sippy, food, or extra set of clothes only to pick them up and find them wearing someone else’s clothes (which take me a month to return) and a diaper labeled “Josh” (I don’t own a Josh).
  • We’ve driven our kids to the ER in the middle of the night, waited for what felt like hours in the waiting room, only to see a doctor and be told, “Give him some Tylenol and a lot of fluids.”
  • I have been late to pick up my son from school. Once he was the only one left in the parent pick-up line. He cried when he saw me.
  • I have forgotten picture day, misplaced fliers that come home from school, and shown up on the wrong day or at the wrong time to some special event I promised my kids I’d take them to.
  • I’ve yelled for no reason, cried for no reason, driven through the drive through more than a couple times, cursed (on accident), and even fallen on my face all in front of my children.

I could seriously keep going…

third time parents, family photo
Photo Credit: Sarah McConnell Photography

Last week I helped host a baby shower for my BFF who is pregnant with her first baby. She and her husband are so excited to be parents. They have read every pregnancy book for both moms and dads out there. They’ve picked out their nursery set, registered for baby gifts, and completely reorganized their home for the new little angel that will soon join their lives. ADORABLE.

At her shower, we had these little advice cards. Advice. I pondered that for a long time. What advice do I give a first-time mom? What is the most important thing she needs to know? baby shower advice cards and guessing game

Others around me wrote,

Always have an extra set of clothes.

Call your mom.

Read to him every night.

Stick to a routine.

All valid. All important. But at some point, she will have used the extra set of clothes and not restocked, her mom won’t be home, she will be so tired that reading a book just won’t be an option, and a vacation, a birthday party, or an extra long nap on the couch will hijack that routine. FAIL.

Or is it just LIFE?

Somewhere along the way, we have painted this picture of the perfect mom. Her hair is washed, combed and curled. Her children have coordinating outfits from Baby Gap to which she got for almost free using coupons. Her purse, car, and home are organized with decorative baskets, shelves and labels for her children to do ALL the chores themselves without ANY reminders. Her kids are always happy. They always eat their food, which is always organic, homemade and fits the nutritional requirements. Perfect Mom never yells. Never curses. Is never late, forgetful, or missing from an organizational meeting or school event. She. Is. PerfectFICTIONAL.

Perfect doesn’t exist. We need to stop expecting ourselves to be so. The reality is, we don’t fail our children when they have to eat school lunch because we are out of bread, or when they have to wear extra short pants out in public because we haven’t gone shopping for winter gear yet. We moms feel like failures in those moments because we have unrealistic expectations for our role as MOM.

For me, I did not become a mom to exercise my superior organizational skills (or lack there of). It wasn’t so I could plan perfect arts and crafts projects. Or even to be the head of the PTO, write a mommy blog, or overload social media with pictures of my beautiful little cherubs.

I became a mom because I wanted to make a family, and to share my love with another little human. I wanted to build a relationship, a friendship, and meaningful memories. The minute I became a mom I fell in love. And every moment since I’ve been amazed at how far my love can stretch. It stretches over those sleepless nights. It stretches through the tantrums. My children are all different and each filled with quirks, difficulties, and imperfections. I love each of them especially for those quirks, difficulties and imperfections because that is what makes them uniquely them.

So you, first time momma, you will experience the same. Your love for your child will grow because of his imperfections. Because of those things that make him uniquely him. Uniquely YOUR BABY.

You won’t be perfect. You will fall short everyday. Sometimes multiple times a day. So my advice, to my BFF and all the other first-time mommas out there is to laugh at yourself. To let loose and enjoy. To let the love for yourself stretch past those moments where you fail to meet perfection. Remember that baby of yours loves you for all the same reasons you love him. Frazzled, fuzzy and faulty, YOU are the ONLY one that gets to be HIS mommy.

You two will be a perfect match!

best friends pregnant together
Me and Katie, from costumes to bellies!

Kate, you will be one wonderful mother. I can’t wait to share motherhood with you! XO- Erica

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One thought on ““You won’t be perfect.” Advice for a first-time mom

  1. Made me cry. You said it perfectly, Erica. May be one of the best blog posts I’ve ever read. Thanks for the reminder of why I love being a mom, and why God chose me for my 3 kiddos. ♡you

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