I wrote this article last year, but recently came across it again and wanted to share. My sweet baby will be 11 tomorrow. Traci, AFDS Director
Ten Things I’ve Learned, In Ten Years
By: Traci Turner
The summer of 2003 was the hottest we’ve ever had on record. I’m sure of it! That was the one and only Texas summer that I was pregnant. It’s been 10 years and I still remember that miserable heat. Looking back it seems like yesterday, but so much has happened since then. I’ve been reflecting lately on the things I’ve learned and discovered since I became a mama.
1. Make a Plan – But accept that Plan B might possibly happen. I’m a planner! I admit that. Ask my mom, my staff, and my family. I make ridiculous plans, I over think situations. But, I fortunately have learned to accept that things don’t always go according to plan. I certainly didn’t plan to be in labor for 92, yes you read that correctly, 92 hours. Nor, did I plan for my beautiful infant to be whisked away to the NICU before I even got the chance to hold her. There have been multiple things that didn’t go according to my grand scheme, but here we are 10 years later, healthy and happy. I let it go. Everything is alright.
2. I learned Lesson 2 very quickly, although I’ve had to re-teach myself this one. When my daughter was born, she aspirated fluid. After day 7 of being in the NICU she was finally released to come home with orders not to get her out for 4 weeks. I stuck to those instructions and she has been relatively healthy since. The times she has been sick since, I’ve tried my hardest to keep her home as long as I could, to let her heal completely. I have learned that if I rush her back, she relapses. This is a hard lesson, sometimes we have to get back to work or are just tired of being cooped up, but take it from a mama that’s been there…It’s easier to stay in one or two more days than to try to get another week off from work, when she is running fever and has strep again for the second time in a month.
3. Saying “NO” seems like it should be engrained in us as a parent. Our kids certainly think it is. But as the mama of an only child, I realized how easy it was to say YES. I would be tempted to buy her a small toy or candy at every store we went to. I realized how foolish that was. She certainly didn’t need that toy or candy. She wasn’t a fit thrower and rarely asked for things. Why did I feel the need to purchase things? Not sure the psychiatry behind it, but for whatever reason that’s what I was doing. I learned to not only tell her NO, but to tell myself NO. That sure comes in handy now that she does ask. I am a big believer in making her work for money. This system has taught her the value of a dollar and I hope I am creating a strong work ethic in her.
4. Along those same lines, I realized that I AM THE MAMA! I am in charge. Not her! What I say goes no arguments. I often hear parents make comments like, “My son won’t let me take his temperature, so I don’t know if he has fever”. I’m often baffled by these statements. I want to scream…”YOU ARE THE MAMA…HE IS THREE!!” I learned this lesson very early on and I’m so glad I did. We are all tested as parents. We have to be consistent and show them that we are in charge and we are the boss. Period. This has to start early…in the very early toddler stage. The longer it goes on, the harder it will be to parent.
5. I discovered something when my daughter was probably pre-school age, which I wasn’t aware, existed to the extent that it does. Mommy Wars. I didn’t realize how ugly and hateful some mamas are when they are comparing their kids and their parenting styles to others. I soon learned to stay as far away from this as possible. I discovered that the majority of this went on behind computer screens. This consistently happens on parenting blogs, message boards, social media sites, etc. I think people make comments behind the protection of the screen, they would NEVER say aloud to another person. This is one reason I am not a fan of social media. I am joyfully disconnected in that sense. But, unfortunately I’ve heard rude comments in ‘real’ life, as well. I have learned to respect other people’s choices. Whether it be of how/where they educate their children, if they breast or bottle feed, immunize or not, cloth or disposable diapers, at what age they potty trained their child, etc, etc, etc. It’s absolutely none of my business. Each family has to make their own decisions as to what they think is right for that child. Be respectful! We all have one goal…raise our children to be healthy, productive citizens!
6. I just said that each family has to make their own decisions…but as you know it takes two to make a family and those two don’t always agree on how to parent. This can be a major riff between couples. I learned to let it go when it came to my husband. For the most part we agree on things. His style is a little different than mine, but I realized that our daughter was benefiting greatly by receiving both styles. She was getting to bond with her daddy, even if he didn’t fix the bottle exactly like I did. Now they have developed a beautiful relationship. I’m glad I didn’t nit-pick everything he did. I also have made a concerted effort to never say anything negative about him or his parenting style in front of our daughter….or anyone else for that matter.
7. Speaking of daddy...I learned to make time for him. We made it a point to get grandma to babysit so we could go on a date. Of course, we just talked about our baby the whole time, but we were together and still keeping up our relationship. We have always said, after she is grown and out of the house, we didn’t want to look at each other as if we were strangers. We learned to let her go to her grandparent’s house to spend the night and take small weekend trips together. Our relationship is worth it.
8. Because I learned to get away with my dear husband, I realized I wasn’t needed 24/7. My mom and my mother in law were able to take care of my baby without my constant supervision! I learned to relax and not be a ‘helicopter mom’. Over the years I’ve even gotten better at this. This year for her science project, I didn’t help at ALL with any of the design aspects or the construction. She was so proud of that project and it’s ok that the paper was crooked and not perfectly level…she still made a 100! The need to hover sneaks up on me at different times. I have to remind myself to step back and let her breathe.
9. This lesson was taught to me before I became a mama. It was taught to me by my own parents, and by their parents. I know that I am responsible for my daughter’s spiritual well being for now. Once she reaches the age where she can make decisions on her own, I will no longer be responsible. But in this moment, it’s my duty to see that she is in church, Bible class, and that she is growing in God’s word. This is a very personal subject and perhaps one that many of you reading this might disagree. But it’s #1 in my book. I am watering that seed I planted 10 years ago and when she is grown and out of the house, I pray that I can watch it grow.
10. The last lesson I learned sums them all up. You only get one chance to be a mama to that baby. You may have multiple children, but you only get one chance with each one. Make it count!