This is a gentle warning to all new mothers – the sad truth is that your memories fade. 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. Call it whatever you want, exhaustion, postnatal depression, the baby blues or just plain old life! Sometimes I try to remember something specific about the baby days, and I just can’t.
I remember the hard stuff. I remember the tough days, the mistakes, the fights, the tears and I remember all the sleepless nights. And I remember the guilt.
Sadly though, the happier memories are less clear. They are more of a feeling than actual memories and that makes me feel guilty all over again. Does the mom guilt ever go away?
Sometimes memories flash up on my Facebook of my beautiful girls, looking happy, having fun. Sometimes I’m in the picture with them, mostly though, I’m not. Sometimes when I see the photo I struggle to remember that precise day or moment. Then I wonder to myself, “Does that make me a bad mom?”
The short answer is simple, “No.” It doesn’t, because back then it was about survival. Surviving each day until I could get to the next one.
My eldest was 23 months old when my youngest was born. The nine 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 nausea, bone-numbing exhaustion and the inability to even be a decent wife, mother, daughter or human being. I remember that. In those days my eldest daughter definitely preferred being with my mom than she did with me, and I can’t really blame her. Even back then, my girl’s granny was the best, and she still is.
What Would I Change?
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.
It doesn’t matter so much anymore. It happened. We made it through the darkness to the other side, and I wouldn’t go back for one single moment. My husband and I live by the motto, never backwards, always forwards. It’s seen us through some tough times and guided us when we needed some help making tough decisions. But …
My advice to mothers in the trenches …
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 and the lighter side of life, than the hard days, the meltdowns, the tantrums and the many many 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 and are 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 a lot of the time, 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. You need happy memories.
Write it down
You need to write down the milestones and memories. 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. 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 special baby 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 to remember how precious that time in her little life was.
Those are things that I don’t want to forget.
About two years ago my old iPhone 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.
So remember, your memories fade. We will need 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, to be able to look back one day.
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.
Make the memories. Record the memories.