On the same basic level we all require the same things- water, food, shelter, protection- but beyond that we each have our own special needs.
Often as mothers, we overlook our own wants and needs because we take care of everyone else and tend to put our family’s needs before our own.
We know the kids need a haircut, the dog needs a bath, the weeds in the flowerbeds need to be pulled. There’s a PTA meeting tomorrow evening, cookies that need to be made for the bake sale, the car needs an oil change. The coffeemaker needs to be cleaned. There is a weird smell in the laundry room. The soccer game is tomorrow and it’s your turn to bring snacks (healthy snacks only, please!) The cat has a vet appointment. Someone spilled soda on the floor in the kitchen and it is a sticky mess. Dad’s birthday is next week. The checkbook needs reconciled and bills need to be paid.
What a mom needs
Sometimes I just need a hug, other times I want the proverbial village to be helping me out. Can we meet somewhere in between?
Don’t dismiss a mother’s feelings or say things like, “Oh honey, they are only little for such a short time, you’ll be wishing for this in a few years!” or “This too shall pass.” Dude, I’ve heard it all before and those little pieces of wisdom do not make my rough day any easier, nor make me feel like I have been heard.
Whether it be five minutes alone in the bathroom, a walk around the neighborhood, or the kids having a sleepover at Grandma’s house, every mom needs a break.
So many mothers do so much for their families. Guaranteed, mom is thinking about her family 24/7. A ‘thank you,’ a hug or another small token of appreciation can go a long way.
Before I had children I did so many different activities, exercises religiously, and was always creating something, but when you are taking care of a little one(s) it can be hard to squeeze in any time to express yourself, let off steam, and just be yourself for a little while. I started my blog as a creative outlet because I knew I could write while my baby slept and I could start and stop at any time to attend to her, unlike if I had my hands covered in paint or clay. It has helped me to connect with others and express my thoughts and feelings in a way I was never able to do before.
I think so many women neglect themselves and finding something that helps them or something they may enjoy because they feel guilty for taking the time for themselves away from their family or because they think they will be judged by others.
Motherhood can be lonely. There are long stretches of time where you are taking care of someone who can’t talk back and have a conversation yet. Everyone needs at least one friend who they can call, count on for help, or just commiserate with.
The biggest change for after becoming a parent was reconciling the fact that I wasn’t really the same person that I had been before. I was, but I wasn’t. I had a little tiny person to keep alive. I had to pay attention to someone else’s needs and wants before my own. I felt like I went from being Sarah to being Abby’s Mom.
To counter that, in the last few years I have learned that there are times when I need to put myself first. I have to create my own identity to reflect who I am now. I am a writer. I am an artist. I am a mother. I can be all of those things and more.
What a mom doesn’t need
Just as important as what a mother needs, there are several things she does not need as well.
You may have been there, done that, and have the t-shirt to prove it, but, please don’t give a mom loads of unsolicited advice. I don’t want this to sound rude; you may have a wealth of experience and knowledge and that is fantastic. You will probably be a great resource for a new mom to rely on.
As a grandparent, a friend, a coworker, whoever- it is wonderful that you care enough to want to help. The thing is, what you may know, what you were taught in 1965, what you may have done, may have read, or may have seen on TV shouldn’t be dictated as “the right way” or “how to do” something.
To the person on the receiving end, unsolicited advice can feel like judgment, like they are doing something wrong, or like they aren’t good enough.
In my case, a lot of learning how to take care of my kids and what works best for us has been through trial and error. I’m sure a lot of other families have experienced the same. I have asked for advice from others and appreciated it. Wait for mom to ask you.
Each parent has their own strengths and weaknesses. Each has their own parenting style. Each has their own knowledge base and cultural background.
Don’t judge their way of parenting, how their kid is acting in public, if a child is not potty trained by a certain age, if they breastfeed or formula feed, or anything else. Each family is different, each child is different, and each situation is different.
At some point, everyone is new to parenting. It is a life change. Don’t expect a spouse to be Supermom; some days we can barely keep it together. Don’t expect the same sort of social life or schedule that you had before children. Don’t think that the kids are always going to be perfect little angels. Don’t expect her to have the time or ability to pay as much attention to you as she used to be able to, it’s not personal, that’s just the way it is.
Comparison to others
I think one of the biggest things not to do is to not compare one mom to another.
Just because Susan works full time, runs five marathons in a year, and never misses a football game doesn’t mean her sister Shari can do the same. You can’t compare apples to oranges.
What about you?
In your experience as a mother, what do you need?
What is not helpful?
What would you tell an expecting mother?
I would love to hear your opinion and about your experiences.