How to be a good mom without dying trying
What a difficult thing to do. Be a good mom. Easier said than done. Before having my own kids I used to look at moms over my shoulder. I wondered how they allow their kids to make tantrums at the mall and continue walking undisrupted by their own child's bad behavior. And what about moms all dressed up, all pretty from hair to shoes, polished nails, fancy dressed, gorgeous divas at the birthday parties while their kids looked like trash bags full of dirt everywhere?
I felt disgusted by the idea of being a mom who was always sharp and having my kids dirty and dressed up as beggars. I told myself I would never be one of those moms. God forbid I wear my red lipstick and my clean white dress while my kids have Cheetos smudged all over their faces!
As I was alone, with no kids, with no responsibilities at all, motherhood seemed just a mere concept. Abstract, inner, painfully unnecessary. As a single woman, I just had to care for myself. My own decisions, my perfect time to myself. When the magical moment of motherhood knocked me down -pun intended- I started to experience it all by myself.
What a shock to have kids that actually belong to us... Then, the whole perspective changes and we are so grateful we at least manage to keep them alive. Yes, my son is dirty but is alive! I managed to put him in the car safely and reach this McDonalds' where the birthday party was a terrible mess of chicken nuggets and ketchup, and cotton candy. So now, my son looks like a crime scene with that ketchup all over but he's having fun. If we could go back in time to compare the boy that was by my side before leaving the house... He looked like an angel! Even his halo was shiny and glowing for how clean it was.
When we have our own kids, we see everything differently. Now I just feel pity, compassion, empathy for all the mothers around the world, myself included. There are almost zero hours to sleep those first years, the time that we dedicated to ourselves becomes nonexistent, date nights end up vanished for months, and let's not mention what happens to sex in a lot of marriages. Going back to our pre-pregnancy body will turn into a nightmare and we will have to learn to love our stretch marks and get used to the belly pouch that won't go away despite your dieting and post-pregnancy workouts! And we will have to accept the extra pounds if the stubborn pouch doesn't go away!
I'm not complaining. I'm just showing you the big picture and the behind scenes as well. I embraced all of my struggles with hope (with postpartum depression the first time, cough, cough) and finally, I was reborn like a maternal phoenix.
Truth is kids don't come with an instruction book to know all the right things to do. We wish! But as every kid is different, so are the "handling instructions". There's no way to have universal rules that apply to all kids equally.
There's no way to know why the baby is crying? Is he hungry? Is he sick? Probably we first consider taking him to the doctor instead of feeding him. That's how frustrating it's to have kids. So, you have to learn or risk appearing at the hospital until you're arrested for been labeled as a bad mom.
As kids don't come with instructions, we are solely guided by instinct. What we feel, what we think is the right thing to do. And the first miraculous thing happens! We are bonded to that little human being that is growing inside us. And instantly we are in love!
I believe a mother's love is what creates all the "rules" that will help the baby grow. It will determine what and who will surround the baby. A mother's love is the most beautiful thing across the universe. That love that is suddenly created, is the protective shield of the baby for long years.
A few months pass by and you learn your baby's needs and cries. Now you know when it's gas and when he's hungry. But as nothing lasts forever, the baby starts growing, and those things you managed to discover start to change daily. Now the teeth are growing. And so on. And childhood turns into a whole school where moms earn a Ph.D. for such learning.
There's no way a mom can simply leave her baby to grow on his own. Moms are masterminds of developing patience. If it wasn't true, all moms should be prescribed with Xanax after giving birth. The ever-changing days will lead a mom to frustration, but she'll always find a way to patiently understand her children's needs.
A mom should be vested in patience 24 hours a day. Patience to endure people's comments. People love to talk about how the kid is looking at that moment, without remembering that 10 minutes ago was a perfect little thing. People love to punish the mother for whatever happens to a kid, either in her presence or her absence. He fell and scratched the knees? Mom didn't teach him to be careful. He cried because he fell and scratched his knee? Mom made him spoiled and weak. Mom runs to her kid to heal him and even cry? Mom is way too overprotective.
No matter who was in charge of the baby's care, the mom is always responsible. Even if she was at the hospital.
There's no way a mom can do good things if looked at by external eyes. People love to criticize moms. It's like her suffering is a cause of joy for others.
Moms should be dressed up with godly patience. People will criticize how she cares for her own child. Some grandmas will tell her she's been a wimp when patting the baby's back after feeding him. This grandma will take the baby and hit his back so hard you start to fear she'll detach the baby's little internal organs. You can tell her she's been rough with the baby, but for her, you're the wimpy one.
I remember when my daughter was born. She was a premature baby. When she was released from the hospital, I took her to the church. I was so blessed that my daughter was finally okay! She had these big beautiful rosy cheeks! I'll never forget this "very religious" woman who said my girl looked like a "bojote". That was her exact word. In Puerto Rico, that word is to describe something horrible, super fat, and hard to look at.
Of course, I felt offended. How on earth a person could talk about a little baby with such despicable words?
Patience is a virtue that moms are granted when she's gifted with babies. It wasn't there, but suddenly, she can be the most patient person on planet Earth.
When her kids are growing, the patience must grow as well. Double its amount. Triple it, perhaps. Teenage years come to be a test even bigger for a mom. If she bonded deeply with her kids, no matter what happens, they'll stick together against everything.
I have always talked to my kids. When they were born, I talked them into what I was doing. Read stories I knew they were just too little to understand, but still, they were listening deeply. While they were close enough, I would narrate my every daily adventure. My DIY projects. My feelings. I always explain to them almost everything! I am very verbal about my feelings. I try to make them understand their feelings are not the only ones to think about. Sometimes we do things that make good to others. While other actions of our own could bring consequences to people around us.
I promote that they share their feelings and that they feel safe while doing it. If they aren't feeling safe while speaking their hearts out, they are allowed to protect their own space, no matter the person.
For a mom, it sucks to spend a lot of time getting the kids ready to go out! Believe me! It sucks! All that time invested in making your kid look like he was taken from a royal magazine will be destroyed immediately after arriving at the destination. Probably, the grandparents won't see the splendorous angel that left the car, because walking across the guests, they got chocolate from an uncle or a soda from an aunty. It will appear that the mom was careless, because moms will always be to blame for how our kids look or for what they do, no matter how hard we try.
We will also need tons of tolerance when listening to people criticize the fact that you left your newborn with the grandparents to go on a date with your hubby. People can only criticize what they haven't lived. When they have to go through it, they'll be more thoughtful before giving stupid opinions.
When a mom is so tired -because she will get tired- she'll need people to support her and her kids. Loving, understanding people who she can entrust with her most precious thing: her kids. When a mom has her support system, she'll be able to refresh herself, rest and replenish her energies to continue her hard work as a mom. Grandparents, aunties or uncles, or closest people are great to keep a mom revitalized so she can also take care of herself.
A baby cannot be left in anyone's care. Not all people know how to hold, take care, feed and understand a kid. That's when the trustworthy people come in handy. Many people will come to the mom requesting (if not demanding) to be in charge of the child. If a mom is not feeling like trusting the child to this particular person, you can simply give them some tasks related to the kid- like doing the kid's laundry. Anyone who really wants to help will help no matter the job. If they complain, follow your instinct and show them the door, and never leave your child unsupervised with this person.
An itty-bitty of trust.
Kids desperately want to feel trusted. The notion of trust makes them feel bigger than they really are. Give and take back trust as they earn or abuse it. Trust them with responsibilities to accomplish and give them something in exchange for the good work. Kids love screen time, cash, or even a pint of ice cream they love. If they abuse your trust- don't fulfill the task, lie, create troubles instead of solutions, you just retrieve the trust. No screen time until the job is done, no buying ice cream until you inspected the task. Make it hard for them to cheat on you.
In the beginning, it will be hard and time-consuming but eventually, it will be just a matter of maintenance rather than a teachable moment. Don't forget, trust is a two-way street. You want to trust them, but you want to be trusted as well. Is a double relationship to work on. Always do what you promise and give what you promise.
If you earn your kids' trust, everything else will be easier. (Not easy. Easier than other kids who don't feel they can trust their parents and rebel against them to get a nice bit of attention.)
While our kids grow into productive responsible adults, we -moms- are entrusted with a very difficult work. Guiding our kids to seek and achieve their best is the most difficult job in the entire world. Nothing other than our love will help us in the quest to raise good people!
If you've been a cruel little thing with a mom, think it twice. A mom you'll be someday! And you'll be in that lady's shoes living it all on your own! Be conscious that you just know what you see, not the endless hours a mom lives to keep her children happy, healthy and very alive!
Lots of love,