I realized this was harder to come up with than I thought because after 2 kids -- and 6 years -- it's harder than ever to remember "before motherhood." Sad, huh?
But, here's my best shot at it.
- Your baby's birth cannot be "planned." Don't try. Learn all you can about what to expect, be ready to advocate for yourself, but don't put expectations on your baby's birth. Expectations = Disappointment. The most important thing -- in the end -- is to have you and your baby healthy. All the craziness that happens in between just becomes your "birth story."
- Breastfeeding is a learned skill. It is not some innate ability that all women have. It is hard, frustrating, and will cause you to feel a little insane at times. And if -- for some logical reason -- you decide to put a formula bottle in your baby's mouth, there will be lacto-Nazi moms to shun you.
- Sleep -- both for you and your baby -- is the most important thing for the first 3 months. Forgo all else to get this.
- Men are as capable parents as women. But sometimes they need a little encouragement (especially with babies).
- Each kid is different. What works for one will not necessarily work for another. When some mom claims a wonder cure for a behavior -- and you just know that's not going to work with your kid -- trust your gut.
- Some parents are crazy. You will have friends that you know and like -- and see them do wacky stuff to or with their kids. Unless it's abuse, do not interfere. Not your kids.
- Your kids will drive you nuts. They will drive you to the point you just want to scream at the top of your lungs. Or run away and never come back. Remember: even that "perfect mom" has these moments even if she claims she doesn't!
- Hugs and "I love you's" will melt your heart. Your child's innocent, unabashed affection and love makes up for #7.
- You'll defend your decision to stay-at-home or work more to yourself than to anyone else. The "Mommy wars" are so virulent, but you will not have to defend your decision more than a few times to others. But, you'll be defending that decision, and re-thinking that decision, in your heart and mind for the next 18+ years.
- You can ask for help. You are not the first mom to do this. You have your family, friends, and neighbors who will support if asked. And they may come with uninvited opinions. But hey -- some of the opinions may actually be helpful.