This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written letters to themselves. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
I love kids, but I'm not a mother yet.
I write this blog as an AP nanny/baby sitter, but I don't yet have kids of my own. However, I excitedly anticipate the day when I will raise my own kids, and in honour of that, I wrote a letter to the mother that I will one day become.
Also, I pulled out the embarrassing middle school photos on this post. FOR YOU GUYS.
Wow! You made it! You're a mother.
Take a moment to just think about that.
Hold your baby in your arms. Breathe in their smell, hug them to yourself. You're here, you did it, you're a mama, and this is your baby.
Think back in time.
Remember when you were in middle school, absentmindedly daydreaming, picturing what it would be like when you could finally become a mother. You chose embarrassing names for your hypothetical children, designations that you've long forgotten. You imagined what they would look like, you pictured the kind of house in which you might live, the home that you would create with them. You dreamt of speaking to them in Japanese (some things never change) and caring for their needs.
Middle school Erin and baby
Middle school Erin with a kiddo (and VERY pronounced braces)
Recall as a high schooler, practicing with your ring sling, learning how to tie on your baby wrap, reading countless articles about babywearing, and pining over gorgeous rainbow wraps. You learned these skills for then, for nannying and baby sitting and caring for your friend's offspring, but as you did so, you couldn't help but imagine the future, when your carriers will hold your own babies, when you will hold your own close to your heart.
The first picture I have of myself babywearing. We've come a long way.Beginning at a young age, while out in public, you always notice babies. "Aw, look at the baby!" and "Check out that sweet carrier" (you're like a babywearing radar) are familiar comments from you. One day, you're at the beach with your mother, and you pass by a woman with her baby snugly cuddled in a wrap. Your mother turns to you and comments, "I know you were totally digging that lady's cool baby carrier." You were. A few days later, she comments to you, "I always notice when people are using baby carrier now, because of you!"
As a high schooler, one day, you're walking with your best friend, and you walk past a woman holding a smiling and cooing baby. After you pass her, your friend turns to you and comments, "You wanted to steal that baby, didn't you?" She knows you all too well. Later, she messages you, asking what your favourite animal is. Seconds later, she clarifies, "Other than baby humans, of course."
You do the same thing while you're living in Japan; you're always pointing out cute babies, especially if their parents are babywearing. And in Japan, their parents are ALWAYS babywearing. You do this so often that one day, your host grandmother teaches you a special word: おんぶ を します (onbu o shimasu) -- to wear one's baby on one's back.
Erin in Japan. Not pictured: any form of babywearing, or anything relevant to this blog post. I just really love talking about Japan, to be honest.
Remember picturing yourself wearing your own kids, cosleeping, breastfeeding, caring for them. Think back to reading countless articles about homebirth and cosleeping, to learning about breastfeeding and natural living, to practicing babywearing. You have spent years and years caring for other people's children, and you have looked forward to this moment for a long time. And you made it! You did it. You're holding your own baby in your arms.
Here are some things that I want you to know and remember:
Your baby is yours, and you get to make decisions for them. What your Mother in law, Grandmother, Aunts, Uncles, childhood friends, or old classmates from high school think is not important. It's not their baby, it's your baby. As Steve Harvey once said, "Get your own baby. This ain't your baby." Be confident in your decisions, and in what works for you. And be your child's advocate. Fight for what is best for them. What people think about you is not important -- protecting your child and securing what is best and safest for them is.
Motherhood is not perfect. You will be tired. You will want a break. You may be desperate for a minuet--a second, even! -- to yourself. You will be irritated sometimes. You might feel unsupported. These feelings are normal. You're not"doing it wrong". But when you are frustrated, tired, touched out, when everything seems wrong, remember back. Think about when you babywore, read, and dreamt of the future. Think about how much you've longed for this. Think about how special your kiddo is, how lucky you are to have them. Remember that these moments, even the tiring ones, are special.
Don't be afraid to take pictures, to write, to save mementos. Capture the memories however you can. Take pictures of yourself babywearing, of partners and friends babywearing (can you tell I'm already excited at the prospect of babywearing photos?), of special moments. Of tiny toes and sleepy smiles, of your baby in special places and experiencing new things. You'll be glad that you did.
You can do this. You are a good mother. You are patient, you are very loving, you are kind, you are giving, and you care about kids so, so much. But you're a worrier, and you're a perfectionist, and unfortunately, those two things, when mixed together, create a bitter cocktail of unnecessary regret and frustration that I feel that you might be drinking often as a new mother. You will worry that you are not enough. You might worry that you are too easily frustrated, that you are not loving in the way that your child needs you to be, that you are not adequate. But remember these things:
You are an amazing mother. An AMAZING mother!
You are perfect for your baby. You are just what they need. You are the right person to be their mother. They are lucky to have you, and you them.
You are loving. You are so, so very loving! Your child will be showered with all the love that they need and more. No need to worry.
You are such a patient person. You are usually calm in the face of chaos. It's normal to be annoyed sometimes, but even in the face of irritation, you generally stay calm and collected. Your child will thank you for this.
You are accepting and understanding. You love people for who they are. Your child will benefit from this.
You are constantly thinking about the best way to support and care for children. You care so, so very much about them.
You have so much of yourself to give to your kids. You are enough. You will always be enough.
Keep calm and carry on, mama. You've got this.
I'm so excited and happy for you. See you in the future, mama Erin.
I wanted to add more of my babywearing practice pictures (from practicing with dolls, ect, to learn how to wrap correctly), because I just have SO. MANY. And why not, right? So, here they are:
Me wearing a buffalo. For your viewing pleasure.
I swear, I'm happy.
DIY ring sling means hands free!
Why yes, I DO have the same expression in all of my babywearing pictures.
.....I have dozens of reference pictures like this. I'll spare you from having to see all of them.
Also, just for fun, more pictures of middle school Erin (I keep finding them):
I look thrilled
I had the "I'm hands free and babywearing" pose down before I even knew what babywearing was (Does it concern anyone else that I look exactly the same in this picture taken six years ago as I do in the pictures that I took, like, last week? Is this why I'm always getting mistaken for a 7'th grader?)
*** Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Dear Me. — Meegs at A New Day writes to her decade-younger self offering a good reminder of how far she's come, and she addresses some fears she wishes future her could assuage.
- Reflecting on Motherhood with Parental Intelligence: A Letter to Myself — Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence writes about raising her two loving, empathic sons with Parental Intelligence and finding they have become industrious, accomplished young men with warm social relationships.
- A Letter to Myself — The Barefoot Mama writes to herself in the moments around the birth of her daughter.
- A Letter to Myself — Holly at Leaves of Lavender offers a missive to herself in the past... three years in the past, to be precise, when her little one was only four months old.
- Dear me: Nothing will go the way you've planned — Lauren at Hobo Mama gets real with her just-starting-parenting self and tells it to her straight.
- A Letter to the Mama Whom I Will Become — Erin from And Now, for Something Completely Different writes a letter to the Mama whom she will one day be, filled with musings on the past, present, and future.
- Dear Me of 7 Years Ago — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl writes to her pre-baby self telling her about the whirlwind she's about to enter called parenting.
- Talking to My 18 Year Old Self — HannahandHorn talks to herself as she is just entering college.
- Dear highly sensitive soul — Marija Smits tells a younger version of herself that motherhood will bring unexpected benefits - one of them being the realization that she is a highly sensitive person.
- Talking to myself: Dear Pre Stoneageparent — Stoneageparent enlightens her pre-pregnant self about the amazing transformations life has in store for her after having two children
- Dear Me: I love you. — Dionna at Code Name: Mama wrote herself a few little reminders to help her be at peace with who she is in the moment. That may give her the greatest chance of being at peace in the future, too.
- My best advice to the new mama I was 8 years ago — Tat at Mum in Search shares the one thing she wishes she'd figured out earlier in a letter to her 8-years-ago self (that's when her first baby was 6 moths old).
- A Letter to Myself — Bibi at The Conscious Doer sends a letter back in time eight years to her darkest moment post partum.
- To me, with love — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama makes peace with her past and projects what a future her will need to hear.
- To Myself on the Last Day — Rachael at The Variegated Life tells her panicked last-day-before-motherhood self not to worry.