Dear Aubrey,

Thursday, October 9, 2014

This post is for you. Although promised months ago, this has been in the making for much longer than that. 14 1/2 years actually. That is when I had my first baby. I have come to understand a thing or two about raising children, but I now realize how much I have yet to learn.

Pregnancy is like the preliminary events leading up to the marathon of motherhood - the opening ceremonies. We spend nine months preparing for our lives to be changed in a way that no human could ever prepare for. The moment your new baby enters this world and is placed in your arms is the moment you will lose control. You will lose your heart first. Although you already love this tiny human, that love will explode more with each passing hour as you study and memorize every piece from tiny toes to cute button nose. Next, your time. Your world will be planned around eating and sleeping schedules. Your body - also not in your control even though the baby is now out, will at moments leak from several different orifices at once. You will continue to sustain this new life for the next while, sharing still your body with them. Your emotions - no control. You will feel things you never knew you could and do not understand why you are even feeling. Sound scary? That is not my objective. I simply mean to share some things with you that I wish my girlfriends had shared with me. The talk was all about pregnacy and labor. What about the after stuff? This is important stuff; THIS is how mothers are forged.

So here are a few of the things I have learned or better yet, that I am still coming to understand:

1. 6 weeks. At least. 6 weeks guilt free from the things you don't have time to do right now and free from pressure and comparison. Give yourself time to heal and recover. Our bodies go through more than we give them credit for. You are not in a race of "who bounced back fastest". Your tummy will contract on its own schedule. You clothes will not fit right away. You body has just performed the miracle of making and giving life. Let it recover. You and your baby will be happier. Rest. Sleep when you can. Eat. Cry when you need to. Drink water. And ask for help from those you trust.

2. Never before has a shower been so wonderful as after those first few weeks of having a baby. Ironically, it is one of the things that we seem to never be able to find the time for. Remember that although a shower cannot solve everything it can help with most things. You will almost always feel better after a shower!

3. One day at a time is now, more than ever, life's philosophy. That is all you need to live. And remind yourself that you will never get that day back. A day spent is a day gone. How will you most like to remember those days? Knee deep in things that don't matter or drowning in the delicious smell and velvety softness of a new baby?

4. Take advice, but consider the source. Something that worked for one person may not work for you. Absorb what you can from those you love, filter through it all and learn to trust yourself. You will find your path. People will say things and have opinions on just about everything. Just because they say it doesn't mean you have to take it, but do remember that most of the time they are simply trying to help.

5. Take lots of pictures and write things down. Moments you never think you will forget lose their crispness and become a whisp of a memory through this marathon you are now beginning.

6. As you fall deeper in love with your baby, it will be unthinkable for you to invision an instance where you could possibly be upset or even angry at this tiny piece of perfection lying in your lap. Trust me when I tell you that it happens to even the BEST mothers sometimes. You will not realize it right away. It is not the flick of a switch. But it will happen and you will catch yourself wondering when it did. It is not a threshold crossed but a transition through time - as baby grows into toddler and toddler into child and child tests the limits of our patience we will experience moments when we feel less than loving. The beauty of it is that Heavenly Father has designed us in such a way that, when needed, those first feelings of adoration can be recalled, and these memories soften our hearts once again to the state we would prefer to always remain. Remember, you are not perfect, but you are oh so good.

7. Remember there is no one right way to parent. This applies to and ranges from how you feed your new baby to what kind of diapers you use.

8. Remember to cherish your relationship with your spouse. Take care of him as he takes care of you.

9. Pray. Pray for help just to get through a day when you are exhausted upon waking. Pray for guidance along the way. Pray for your body to work and for your baby to grow and for your heart to stay soft. This is His child; as are you. You are His hands here on earth. He is your partner there up in Heaven. You are loved. He will help you learn compassion and forgiveness, charity, kindness, long-suffering, sacrifice and humility all through the eyes of this child.

10. Remember, this too shall pass. The good, the bad, and the beautiful. All of it is fleeting. Let this teach you to cherish the good, to get you through the bad, and to cling to the beautiful.

There are a thousand more things I would like to tell you. None of them are probably very important. It seems almost an impossible thing; giving advice to a new mom. And I am certainly unfit to give it. Your baby is your treasure not your trophy. Love that baby like there is no tomorrow; you will never regret it. It is in the letting go that we truly come to understand and rely upon our Heavenly Father and Savior. Maybe this is why we lose it when we have our babies. To help us understand that we are much better in His hands than in our own. But in all the "losing" we gain things we could not any other way; a deeper understanding of Gods love for us; an unearthly love for others; a clearer eternal picture. Then we come to understand that we really didn't lose anything at all - we gained godly gifts - the best of which comes in the form of a tiny pink package and shows to us things as they should be if we slow down enough to receive them.

So my last piece of advice: SLOW DOWN. There is a reason for and something to learn in all of this. Slow down and you will see.  

Love, Shelli