Friday, 13 June 2014

Dear Myself as a First Time Mum,

It's Tully's 6th birthday today. Your 6th anniversary as a mother. And I've had this letter in mind ever since our third baby was born. Because birthdays and new babies always bring up some of those memories of what you expected of yourself, and how things have turned out so differently than you hoped, but still, in a lot of good ways. I wanted to encourage you, to let you know you've done a good job. To tell you that some things will get easier and some harder. That some things will need to be let go. I wanted to write a list of everything I wish you could have known back then, but really can only be learned through experience.

You need to resign from your job as people pleaser.
And apply for the new job of finding what works for you. Parenting is demanding and boring. And lots of other things too. You will agonise over whether sewing is a waste of time and if you should be getting out more, visiting family more, hosting more. You'll think people who do the grocery shopping with 3 kids, who manage to fit playgroup, swimming and music lessons, and the daily school run, and work part time, are both insane and amazing. And they will look at you and ask you how you possibly do your life, with your sewing and homeschooling and church commitments. Deciding not to do it their way is not rejecting them, or telling them they're wrong, or even failing, it's just part of the process of figuring how to do your life. That's the gift you've been given, and it's also your new job.

You still hate baking.
Let me tell you, Jodi, that it has gotten easier baking with children as they've gotten older. So don't feel like you've failed as a mother when it all goes pear-shaped when Tully's 18 months old. There is so much time to give them all the experiences you want them to have as children. There are also some that you find easier than others. Gardening with kids drives you crazy, sewing is fun. Painting gets easier when they get older, but is completely frustrating when they're little and have short attention spans. If something fails, please don't take it personally. Enjoying life together means doing things you enjoy together. Besides, Tim likes to bake, ride bikes and take the kids to the beach, so let him do it.

There are no easy answers to the TV issue.
Or the discipline one, the education one, how many kids you should have, breastfeeding, cloth nappies, working mothers or anything else you thought you had figured out in your childless 20s. You'll decide which ones are non-negotiable (hardly any), and which ones need to be negotiated (most of them) in each season. It's ok to make decisions to make life easier (like using disposables and the tv in the morning and daycare) and also the ones that bring challenges, but fit your values, like homeschooling. And making those decisions doesn't mean they're made forever. You'll keep reassessing your values, challenging yourself, going easy on yourself. Using modern conveniences even though your parents survived without them doesn't make you soft, it probably makes you smart, and fortunate. Living according to your values, even though they differ from the mainstream doesn't make you hardcore. I think I'm learning that values that you truely hold for yourself are the ones that are motivating, whereas one you adhere to because you've borrowed them from others feel more like a whip.

They will sleep.
If I knew telling you to 'put those baby sleep books down' would work, I would beg you to, but right now, they are the only thing making you feel like you have any hope of regaining control of your life. But please know, you will get better at living without control. And it will get easier to build a routine. Eventually you'll replace the books with your own experience and confidence, and it will feel wonderful. Keep going. Its going to be ok.

Some days are a write off.
You will have days like today, where the visitors have left, Tim's taken the day off and the kids are full up on new toys and attention. And you make plans. Plans to write and to sew and to cross some things off that list. And suddenly the kids start fighting and wake the baby up and it all turns to poo. Sometimes it will just last the morning, sometimes all day, or all week. You will have months at a time that are spent contrary to your personality and desires. It happens and it sucks. Turn the TV on. Eat cake. Go outside. Call for help. Order home delivery. Live out of washing baskets for the next week. (actually, you'll do that even when things are good - who sorts washing when you can be sewing?) Lock yourself in the bathroom for 10 minutes. You're going to be ok. You're not doing permanent damage to your children, or yourself.

People who say enjoy it while it lasts are lying, and telling the truth.
As are the people who tell you it only gets harder. Nostalgia is fun for those that have the luxury of having everything you're experiencing now in their past. Each stage brings its own challenges and joys, but perhaps the biggest challenge is to be completely in each moment. There is beauty when they are snuggling asleep in your arms and when they learn to sleep on their own. When they ask a million questions and when they just want to figure it out on their own. When they want to spend time with you, and when they lose themselves for hours playing in their room. It can feel like you are doing everything poorly because everything you do is interrupted, and so everything still buzzes around in your head, waiting to be resolved. But somehow, if you can just put your list and your phone down (you'll be surprised at how much technology has crept into every crevice of your day) and pour your whole self into right now, you might not enjoy it all, but you might find more to enjoy.

Hang in there my dear friend. While it sometimes will feel like your kids are an interruption, an alien invasion, being at home with them also gives you the opportunity to shape your days and pursue interests you didn't have time for while single, albeit in an interrupted fashion! You will make new friends, feel terrible for abandoning others, sit out in the sun at lunch time, and watch movies under home-made quilts on rainy days. Practice thankfulness. And patience. And keep some chocolate hidden in your underwear drawer.

Love, You. xx


  1. Beautiful Jodi!!
    Happy 6 yrs as an awesome, mindful mum!

  2. Happy Momiversary! :) I was a nanny for 15 years in my first career. I thought I knew everything there was to know. I thought I'd "ace" motherhood. I also suffered from post-partum depression and had a lot of feelings of being abnormal. I would tell myself to graciously allow myself time to adjust to my new role and this new little being who is depending on me. I would tell myself that NOBODY knows exactly what they're doing; that all those people who told me that it's different when they're your own kids were right. Most of all, that the most important thing I'll ever do is to love, care for and guide this wee little one into adulthood (and beyond). Take the time to enjoy it for each phase passes in the blink of an eye. Cherish those small moments, even the unpleasant ones. As the child grows bigger, so do the problems. Keep him/her safe in your arms while you can and pray, pray, pray for his/her days ahead.

  3. Happy Birthday Tully! Fabulous pictures Jodi and the 'some days are a write off' paragraph should be given to all mums!!

  4. Lovely post Jodie. I felt like you were writing about my life. Five kids under 9 I can definitely relate! You have a great attitude. I learned that if you are real and honest with your friends about the difficult days then they could let themselves be honest too and were relieved! I loved when my kids were babies and also love the time I have now with them aged 21 to 12. They are all still at home for now and I know this time will soon end. I love that they are becoming adults and finding their path in life. I keep joking that I need one to move out so I will have a sewing room but I don't really mean it. I will miss them. :)

  5. Beautiful! I can see a lot of myself in your post...thanks!

  6. Awesome post (for this new mama especially!) I have thought I need to stop and enjoy more. Yes, she's a demanding little nut at times, wanting nothing but to be held, but I know someday all too soon she's going to want to go be by herself and independent and I'll miss the cuddles. I also need to let go of my mistakes, and my guilt for making them, especially since they won't be my last. And I totally agree with you on the values and non negotiable. We've not had an easy breastfeeding journey but it was one thing I wasn't willing to budge on. I know other people might not agree with some other decisions we've made either, but they are decisions we made with careful consideration.

  7. And happy birthday Tully!

  8. What a beautiful post. Great advice for any mom. You're doing great.

  9. Oh so true. I can totally relate to this post.

  10. I love reading all your posts. Your humor and honesty are such a pleasure to read.

  11. Brilliant!!! As a mom of 3 who are in their 20's i can say you are absolutely on target and i wish i had this wisdom while in the trenches. i just found your blog and love it!


I so love your comments! I read all of them and reply when I can. If you don't hear back, I'm lost under a mound of scraps or outside jumping on the trampoline with the kids. Jodi. xx