The Most Unusual Piece of Advice I Got Before Becoming a Mom

Shannon and Baby BriarMoms are heroes. Remember those pesky little things called pregnancy and labour? Remember how much reading and preparing we did for those things? Well, creating a human inside you then pushing it out through a tiny hole is just the beginning. It’s the beginning of something harder, something you can’t prepare for, something that requires on-the-job, minute by minute training. Oh, and also, it starts right after you create a human inside you and then push it out through a tiny hole. You’re freakin’ tired, your body aches, your abs are torn apart, you might have staples in places a stapler should NEVER be and it starts whether you’re ready or not. Looking back, this is the easy part. Soon they’re walking, then talking (probably talking back) and the next thing you know they want nothing to do with you, and they leave to go to a party where you’re worried they’ll get pregnant because you probably gave them self esteem issues. (Just a little glimpse in to my scary mommy brain…)

My daughter is 8 months old and I love being a mom. She is the sweetest, smartest, most loving girl on the planet. I am grateful for every day we spend together and wonder what conceivable reason I ever had to get out of bed before she came along. Being a mom is the most valuable and rewarding work I’ve ever done but, it’s freaking hard.

So the baby is on its way and you get all the usual platitudes: ‘They grow up so fast, make sure to enjoy every moment.’ ‘Don’t buy anything expensive, babies can be happy with just a wooden spoon,’ and my personal favourite, ‘make sure you sleep now.’ This, by the way, is the worst piece of advice ever because it’s not like you can bank sleep and use it later when you need it, but I digress…After the baby was born I had a visit from a friend with two kids and she gave me an unusual piece of advice, one that’s stuck out for me even 8 months later. She said when babies are little they don’t need very much from you — which at the time, seemed bananas but now with an 8 month old, I know it to be true. She said take this time for YOU first, for YOU and YOUR HUSBAND second and for the BABY third. She followed with, if you’re okay and you and your husband are okay, the baby will be perfect.

The advice stuck with me because it seemed like a perspective counter to everything I’d ever been taught. My mom was a single parent and growing up, we wanted for nothing. Every penny she made and every second of spare time she had went to us. She NEVER did things on her own or for herself. This was my model for motherhood. Looking at the issue more broadly, our society teaches us the same. Kids come first, always. Wanting or needing time for self care makes you a lesser mom. We’re constantly racked with guilt. Guilt that we’re not doing enough at home, guilt that we’re not doing enough at work. We’re never enough as moms. But on an airplane in the case of a crash landing, we’re always told to secure our own oxygen masks before securing those of our kids. If we’re not ok, our kids are not going to be ok. In the craziness of mommy life – find some time for yourself and do it unapologetically. You deserve it. Your partner and kids will thank you for it — you’ll be a better mom, sister, wife because of it. Moms are heroes but even heroes need a rest sometimes.

By Shannon Rothschild, MOM, Yoga Teacher and Account Manager at a very busy ad agency in Toronto

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