On April 5, 2014, I stood beside two dear friends about to become mommies, and I wondered, “What do they need to know about motherhood?” I was almost 5 years into the journey and considered what I could tell them that might be helpful.
Really, nothing. If I could go back to 2009 I would want someone to say this to me:
You think you know what love is. You’ve heard it a million times, how amazing is a mother’s love. Your head knows this, but I promise you – your heart doesn’t know it yet. The inexplicable force of it will take your breath, and you will know, beyond any doubt, only God could create a love like this.
You can read every book ever printed, but God gave you the most important tool: your instincts. Much of parenting relies on it. (Eve didn’t have a book, you know.) At any given moment you will need it. In the quick-as-a-flash decisions and the methodical, laborious decisions. In the day and in the night. In your home and in the grocery store. Yes, even in the oh-Lord-just-let-me-sink-into-the-earth embarrassing moments.
Everyone will tell you how to raise your baby. They’ll say let him cry it out and don’t let him cry it out. They’ll say feed him baby food and don’t feed him baby food. You know what? There’s definitely a need for support and encouragement within safe, trusted community. And there’s a place for making educated decisions. Just remember that you will have an instinct no one else has, and you must trust it. You must.
No one else will hold that screaming baby at 2am. No one else will listen to his cries and know exactly what each one means. No one else will rock him for hours on end or watch his chest rise up and down as he falls asleep. No one else will read every expression, every gesture and know when something’s not right. No one else will know what makes him giggle and then guffaw in that beautiful baby way.
It’s you, Mommy.
Your husband is gonna be amazing, wonderful, blow-your-mind-awesome. He will know your baby inside and out, too. But he’s not Mommy. God gave him incredible gifts and you’ll be thankful for them. But he doesn’t have Mommy Instinct.
So, read all you want. Prepare all you want. Some of it will be helpful, some of it won’t. But nothing anyone can tell you is greater than what you already have.