Christina Rosalie is a writer, mixed media artist, and creative catalyst. Her first book, A Field Guide To Now: Notes On Mindfulness and Life In The Present Tense is available at a bookstore near you. Visit her at christinarosalie.com

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Some things that happen when you become a mama:

(For my sister who is due with her first baby in three weeks…)

Oh yes. This is the way things happen.

You get pregnant, have a baby, survive a year or so of sleep deprivation, memory loss, heavenly smiles, and diapers, and then one afternoon while you’re making a sandwich your baby is sitting on the counter, nonchalant, happy as a clam.

This is what having a baby will teach you:

That you are not in control.

That you were never really in control.

That there is grace in losing the battle, just as there is grace in quietly, patiently persisting with boundaries, bedtimes, and broccoli.

You will never be able to hear a story about a child suffering again without tears wetting the corners of your eyes, entirely unbidden, always unexpected, smudging your mascara as you consider what if.

It’s okay to start over or give up a million times. No one knows any better than you do–and when it comes to your own kid, you do, actually, know best, no matter what anyone else tells you.

It’s all about giggling.

Getting dirty is inevitable and essential. Make your peace with the effing laundry heap. It will never go away. (Although–one thing that most certainly will go away, inexplicably, and often, are single baby socks. One by one they disappear until you’ll have an entire drawer full of singletons.Think I’m kidding? Just wait.)

It’s about stopping and getting down on the floor. Especially with boys. It’s all about the floor and what can be accomplished there: block towers and tickling matches, and moments of physical affection, rough and tumble that they crave. Moms who wrestle are awesome. It’s not just a guy thing. Please don’t believe it’s just guy thing.

It’s about the fact that the floor will always have crumbs, paper clips, pencils, crayons, snippets, legos, blocks, matchbox cars, marbles, rocks, crumpled leaves, gravel, sand, bits of grass, sticks. Don’t let it get to you. It’s just not that important.

Don’t let the crying get to you either. Whatever feels like the worst day in the world, the worst hour, the worst minute, will surely pass. And you’ll blink, and they’ll be 20 months old and sitting on the counter, as if that’s okay, as if it’s not precarious and against the rules. And they’ll be grinning and giggling and drooling, and saying “No! No! No!” when you remove them, or suggest an alternative.

It’s all about alternatives. About distractions. “Oh look!” That’s a magic phrase, right there. Oh yes it is.

It’s about not getting it right the first time or the second time or even the third time. It’s knowing that any mom who looks like super mom, who is always prepared–with snacks and wipes and changes of clothes and perfect birthday party invitations–also has her off days (or else a whole lot of hired help.)

It’s about knowing that there is a learning curve and that you can’t get it right the first time, or the second, or the third. Knowing what to bring takes practice. Knowing what to expect takes a 18 years or more. Go easy on yourself.

Know that if you have ziplocs, wipes, and diapers in your car you have half a chance of avoiding disaster. A change of clothes for everyone, also in the car, is never a bad idea. When they are older swimsuits and towels and sunscreen should live in the car too, just in case. And a picnic blanket. Bandaids. Books. Juice boxes. Get over the fact that your car will look like a bomb just went off in it, always and forever more. Immaculate cars are for wimps without kids.

Carry pacifiers in your purse. Later, matchbox cars, notebook paper, animal crackers, pencils. Know that the day will come when you will sacrifice your phone (even your iPhone) or your sunglasses (even if they’re Gucci) to that little sticky pair of hands to buy ten minutes of peace, and resign yourself to this fate.

Know that you will survive on less sleep.

Forgive yourself for forgetting the little things. They’re little for a reason. Little things can be repaired, replaced, forgotten or forgiven.

Forgive yourself for the big things too. Hormones are messy. Love is messy. Learning to be a mama is messy.

But it’s glorious too. So glorious.

It will crack your world wide open. Oh yes it will.

***
I’d love, love, love for you to share some of the lessons you have learned from being a mama…and I am sure my lovely sister will dig them too. Please share! 🙂

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Comments (32)

  1. Rita 09/06/2014 at 7:16 am

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  3. Annisa19 11/16/2010 at 8:51 am

    Awwww…I just love this. I was laughing all the way through it. Bless you for bringing the small things into perspective with such humour. So many tips to share, but these are my 2 favourites….1) Google does not have kids, so don’t think for a minute that its the best palce to get answers. Trust your own instincts. You know your child better than anyone else. 2) Not so much about being a mama, more about being part of parents…be nice to one another. No matter how hard it is, how little sleep you have had, how frustrating that ringing in your ears is (& they have actually stopped crying !), just be nice to one another. After all, this is the best time of your life !

  4. Zerique 11/08/2010 at 2:34 am

    I learned that my life has become about my baby rather than her life being about mine. I learned that this is not because I lost myself when having a baby but because I found who I am really am when I had her and my purpose is to now ensure that through all that I do as an individual, I model to her what type of person she should be.

  5. Zerique 11/08/2010 at 2:34 am

    I learned that my life has become about my baby rather than her life being about mine. I learned that this is not because I lost myself when having a baby but because I found who I am really am when I had her and my purpose is to now ensure that through all that I do as an individual, I model to her what type of person she should be.

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  7. Missy @ It's Almost Naptime 10/31/2010 at 4:52 am

    ahhhh…can I be so presumptuous as to link what I have learned?

    http://itsalmostnaptime.blogspot.com/2010/08/how-to-be-perfect-mother.html

  8. Micah Reiter 10/30/2010 at 2:04 pm

    I learned that things I never thought I would do (and would judge someone else for doing) became my go-to thing when my little boy was screaming in a restaurant. Saltine crackers and ketchup. I let go of a lot of expectations and learned to go with the flow…and care less about what others think. Those that are judging (like I used to), probably don’t have kids! 🙂

  9. Julie 10/30/2010 at 1:59 pm

    The giggles! I was never one to enjoy getting on the floor to play with my little cousins or neice and nephew, but these days nothing compares to sitting on the floor after work and letting my 13 month old “tackle” me and then giggle uncontrollably as he lays on the floor next to me. I live for giggles.

  10. Strawberryjelly 10/30/2010 at 1:37 pm

    You will cry – a lot. Not because you’re sad, or from lack of sleep (though you very well may cry from lack of sleep), but because your heart is just so FULL.

  11. Alexia 10/30/2010 at 4:32 am

    Fabulous post – I teared up a bit at the end (of course LOL)

  12. NIna 10/29/2010 at 3:44 pm

    “Forgive yourself for forgetting the little things. They’re little for a reason.” I’m printing this and putting it on my computer, on my fridge, beside my bedside table. Thank you.

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  14. Pingback: When You Become a Mama « Red and Honey

  15. Julie 10/28/2010 at 1:40 am

    Don’t worry about getting things just so. The things that seem important right in that moment – Why did he cut his hair just before the picture? Will I ever get permanent marker off the walls? Did he really swallow a dime? – will be the things that you remember later with a smile. I smile with nostalgia at the picture, I smile with satisfaction that I got the stains out, and I smile with wonder that you can see a dime so clearly on hospital scan. 🙂

  16. Scooper 10/28/2010 at 1:16 am

    And if you have a girl, you will no longer be the sole wearer of your own jewelry. Mine is nine and she walked out of the house this afternoon wearing one of my necklaces…and my scarf. And it brought tears to my eyes for no apparent reason whatsoever. Really, really wonderful post. I wish I’d read it nine years ago and three kids ago.

  17. Emily Johnson 10/27/2010 at 5:16 am

    Love this! For me, I look forward to bedtime every night. It is the one time of day that it is dark, quiet, each kid gets individual attention, and they will say and do anything to keep you in their room just 1 more minute. Take advantage of that and don’t rush bedtime! I love laying in my son’s bed in the dark talking about everything and anything- his dreams, fears, telling stories (both him or I telling the story), giggling, anything. No matter how hard the day was, he always goes to sleep knowing 2 things. 1- his mommy loves him more than anything in the world (we play a game listing all the things we love to see if we love each other more, which we always do). 2- he is cute, smart, funny, awesome, and can do anything he puts his heart into! Its all about cherishing the small moments!! Can’t believe my babies are 3 and 1 now!

  18. Mitch 10/27/2010 at 1:37 am

    Yup. I remember the days when I feel like I am going on a trip with my huge baby bag full of baby stuff. i.e. extra clothes, diapers, snacks, formula, milk bottles, baby wipes etc. etc. But just enjoy it, because it will not last.

  19. Cynthia 10/26/2010 at 3:07 pm

    I have 3 beautiful daughters that I cherish every day…our son was 8 when he died…so for me I know what loss is…and every moment with my kids is a blessing! Not that sometimes they don’t make me crazy…haha…they are twin 14 year olds and a 12 year old…they do but I have to stop and take a deep breath and know that they are growing up fast and I don’t want to miss a moment! When they were tiny I thought it was the best age, then when they were one I thought that was the best and then I realized that every age they are I embrace. Now at 14 14 and 12 I love where they are and who they are. Teenagers can be trying but omg they are such fun! My advice…cherish each day with your children…love them…accept their uniqueness…guide them…play with them…respect them…and they will you too!

  20. Kristinleigh 10/26/2010 at 3:36 am

    Enjoy every minute! Savor every second! I gave birth to the most beautiful little girl just yesterday, I swear, and now she is 1 yr old. Take time to Swing with them and just to sit on the beach and watch them play. Always stop what you are doing to hear what they have to say. It is important, at least to them it is. And you really don’t want to miss those precious 4 little words, “I love you, mommy”.

  21. Rockyandstacey 10/25/2010 at 6:21 pm

    Always check your back before going into public. I walked around not knowing there was throw-up all down me.

  22. Pkdragon1 10/25/2010 at 12:56 pm

    I love this – while I was reading this I thought…gee I wish I read this when my son was a baby…. but you know what? My kid is 6 and this still pertains to me….especially the part about Moms who wrestle….. IM THAT Mom! I love to wrestle with my son…. its so much fun! And yes we DO rock! I tell my girl friends that I wrestle with my son and now that I know its COOL I feel so much better…. GO WRESTLING MOMS WITH BOYS!!!! They suck it up…

    Great story! Made me smile today…thanks…..

  23. Jamie 10/22/2010 at 8:33 pm

    It’s cliche (& a country song!) but it is absolutely TRUE–“you’re gonna miss this.” My boys are 5 & 2 1/2 and so much has changed already. I promise you, don’t resent any of it–the crying, the “I hate you”, the fights when they’re learning how to share toys, the lack of sleep, 2 little people in your bed. It will all be gone so fast & you can’t get it back. Boom–they’re done teething. Never will you see that gummy smile. Boom–they’re lookig forward to playing with their friends at the playground. They don’t ask you to play tag so much any more. Love it all, cuz you’re gonna miss it!

  24. Guest 10/22/2010 at 2:50 am

    Best advice I’ve been given so far, a cliche for a reason, is “remember the days are long, but the years are short.” My peanut is only 3 months, and I’ve modified this to the hours are long, but the days are short. Oh my, they weren’t kidding about how fast it goes. A deep breath to get me through a cranky afternoon, and here we are at a cuddly evening… Also, always have an extra shirt for yourself in the diaper bag. (I am amazed you have a purse. I haven’t carried one in three and a half months.)

  25. Rachael 10/21/2010 at 4:29 am

    My big thing is to put my phone away so I’m not texting or tweeting or loading my email. I keep telling myself to “Be Where You Are”. You are right – they notice even though they are little!

  26. Elizabeth @claritychaos 10/21/2010 at 4:13 am

    my addition, and I remind myself as I type it here: Take some time to close the laptop (or turn off the tv), put away the phone, and just be with them. They notice the difference, really young.

    I clicked over from a link on facebook – my first time here. I absolutely loved this post and bookmarked it to come back to again. Thank you for sharing this lovely – and so true — list.

  27. Hannah 10/21/2010 at 1:01 am

    Beautiful post. So full of reality and yet it reminds me that there is grace in my daily life with a little one.

  28. Tdpakosta 10/20/2010 at 9:48 pm

    My biggest thing that I tell myself every single day: live in the moment, remember to just have fun and connect with each child on some level every. single. day. The dishes/laundry can wait! it’s not going anywhere! You won’t get these priceless moments back! and before you know it, they are 10 and 9 and you want to shrink them back to newborn size! And the best advice, take lots of pictures and video, you won’t EVER regret it!
    xoxo
    tara

  29. Katherine 10/20/2010 at 6:27 pm

    Everything I thought I knew about parenting was pretty much wrong and that’s okay.

  30. Alegra Clarke 10/20/2010 at 5:22 pm

    I have learned that I do some of my best mental work when I am holding my children, singing them to sleep. No moment is wasted. It is all a meditation in wonder.

  31. Pingback: It’s about this (or some things to expect as a new mama) : {my topography}

  32. Rachael 10/20/2010 at 4:27 am

    Beautiful post! So true at so many levels. For me – it’s especially true that I can’t hear stories about children suffering without welling up with tears. Impossible!