One of the biggest mom guilts I have is that the first four years of motherhood were so hard and such an emotional rollercoaster that I don’t remember everything I wish I could.
That’s not exactly true. I remember the hard stuff. The tough days. The mistakes. The fights. The tears. The sleepless nights. The guilt.
The happier memories are less clear. They are more a feeling than an actual memory. That makes me feel guilty all over again. #momguilt
Sometimes memories flash up on my Facebook of my beautiful girls, looking happy, having fun. Sometimes I’m in the picture with them, mostly not. I often struggle to remember that precise day or moment, and I wonder to myself, “Does that make me a bad mom?”
The short answer, “No.” because back then it was about survival.
My eldest was 23 months old when my youngest was born. The 9 months of pregnancy with my youngest were pure hell on earth. I was sick the entire time and I can’t even remember half of it other than the nausea, bone numbing exhaustion and inability to even be a decent wife, mother, daughter or human being. In those days my daughter definitely preferred being with my mom than she did with me, and I can’t really blame her.
I sometimes wonder to myself, if I could go back and do it again what would I do differently?
The real answer, I wouldn’t go back for one single second because where I am right now is so much happier. Call it what you will, Postnatal Depression, Baby Blues, Sickness, Hormones.
It doesn’t matter. It happened. We made it through the darkness to the other side, and I wouldn’t go back for all the wine in the Western Cape!
Based on my experience, and with the wisdom of hindsight, I do have some advice for any expecting moms or new moms. Please hear what I am saying.
Take the pictures
Even though I said I struggle to place some of it, at least there are pictures to help me remember that it wasn’t all bad. Let’s face it, we are far more likely to take pictures of the happy moments, the fun days, the lighter side of life, rather than the hard days, the melt-downs, tantrums and failures. We don’t really need photos for that because for some reason we (or maybe it’s just me) remember that far more than the smiles and laughs. The pictures help remind us that it wasn’t all bad, and your babies were beautiful precious gifts that you did treasure and love, even on the dark days!
Let them take pictures of you
The early days are not our most flattering, let’s be honest. Post-baby weight, some of us put on even more weight after their birth and during breastfeeding instead of losing any of it. We’re tired, we don’t get time to do our hair, sometimes we forget to put mascara on both eyes, and you’re probably covered in food in places you don’t even realise. So what! Just do your best to position yourself into the most flattering angle you can and smile. Smile!
Why? Because trust me, you and your children will want to see those pictures of you with them when they were little. It’s important to them, and you need it.
Write it down
I’m talking about the milestones and memories here. With my eldest I had a book where I recorded all her milestones; when she first rolled over, sat up, stood, walked, her first word … but when my youngest came along I was so busy with the two of them that I just made an iCloud note and recorded her milestones there. No book, just my notes. I also have a random note in my iCloud Notes where I made a record of all the funny words my eldest made up instead of using the real ones – they were so cute and so funny. It’s one of my most treasured possessions and it helps me remember how precious that time in her little life was. She doesn’t do that anymore. I don’t want to forget.
About two years ago my old iPhone 4s died a horrible death and I was never so grateful for ‘the cloud’. The temporary fear I experienced when I thought I’d possibly lost those two notes was heartbreaking.
Memories fade, we need the reminders.
There is so much going on in our lives and it really does go by so fast. Do whatever you have to do to not forget, and to be able to look back one day. And don’t stop. I can’t believe that I am the mom to two intelligent, funny, beautiful and perfect little girls. I take pictures all the time, and I still feel like it’s not enough.
They need it.
You need it.
Make the memories. Record the memories.