Being a mother doesn’t necessarily come naturally. Obviously the physical attributes are there or you wouldn’t be pregnant. But mentally and spiritually requires more than just getting pregnant and putting together a nursery.
Everyone thinks it comes naturally to be a mother. In some regards it does. Our bodies produce all the right love hormones to help us with this task. But, it doesn’t only take love to make a good mother. We have to learn how to sacrifice and become selfless cheerfully.
We all want to sleep at 2 a.m. but if your baby wants to nurse then you need to cheerfully give up that sleep to care for your little one.This can be hard to do but it’s important to keep in mind how short life is with your baby. We all hear this when someone sees us with our baby at the grocery store. “Oh your baby is sooo cute! My baby is 18 years old. Enjoy it while it lasts. They grow up so fast!” I used to giggle and roll my eyes after they walked away. Well, now I’m here to agree with them. Right now my babies ages span from six months to 20 years old. I remember holding Veronica, my oldest, and nursing her while everyone was waiting to meet her in the other room. Now, I am nursing my twelfth baby and can’t believe how fast time flies by! Pretty soon I won’t have any more babies left of my own in my home and I’ll be helping my children with their babies, God willing.
Cheerfully being selfless is easier said than done. I get so frustrated when I’m trying to get the kids to finish their kitchen chores without me holding their hands. You can just ask them. Some nights I actually get close to tears! Obviously, them not finishing the kitchen correctly isn’t something to cry about BUT what is frustrating is having to help them see that the floor is still dirty after they’ve swept it for the tenth day in a row. These are the kind of things you need to prepare yourself for.
It’s important to learn patience with some things but to know when to put your patience into practice is what’s most important. People hear how many children I have and they always comment how patient I must be and how they could never handle more than the two they had. Well, I’m here to tell you that my husband and I are probably the two least patient people you’ll ever meet. I honestly think patience isn’t the greatest attribute for parenting. There is the proper place for it but it’s very important to not be patient when your child is misbehaving in public or private and throwing a fit when they don’t get their way. If your patient with them it will only encourage them to misbehave the next time because they know you won’t do anything about it until you get frustrated. Bad move on our part.
Work on your commitment to Our Lord while you’re expecting your baby. You won’t have as much time to read after the baby is born but don’t give up. You will have some incidences to read and study just not as many as you once did.
One thing there will always be time for is prayer. When you’re holding your fussing baby at 2 a.m. this is a good time to say a few prayers! It will help you keep your mental sanity and keep things in perspective. You can pray at any time of the day and no one even has to know. God has given us such a blessing! At any time that we need help we can ask for it from Him and others won’t even know. This bonus can help you keep your cool when in a grocery store and your baby is crying!
After your little one has established some sort of sleeping pattern I recommend getting up before her (preferably before all your other children are up as well) to have a half hour minimum of spiritual reading and prayer. This will help you to get your day off to a good start. I try to get up every morning at 5:30 to do my spiritual reading and to spend an hour writing. When I’m able to accomplish this I notice that my day goes so much smoother because I feel like I’ve accomplished something already. I then feed the baby and then have either my husband or my older children watch the baby while I shower and get dressed.
Another good way to prepare for motherhood is to spend a lot of time reading child rearing books while you’re expecting. A controversial book that I love is “To Train Up A Child” by Michael and Debi Pearl. It teaches you how to train your young ones so they’re not spoiled. A lot of people read the book (or say they’ve read the book but actually have only scanned it or talked with someone else who has scanned it) and think he’s all for beating your child into submission.This is not true. I’ve read this book multiple times as has my older children and husband. The methods he teaches are biblically based and will result in your home being a happy place to be. Read it all the way through and give it a chance. I don’t beat my children and yet I follow his principles. My children are well behaved in public. I’ve even had people pay for my family’s meal when we would go out for dinner. This is a big deal when our bill can easily exceed $100! Give it an honest read and try and you won’t be one of those mother’s in the grocery store horrified over the way your child is behaving in the checkout lane!! I know how this feels, though my child was in an aisle and not the check out lane (Thank you Christina!!).
Another educational resource I recommend is the DVD “The Happiest Baby on the Block”. I wish I would have see this when I was first expecting. He teaches you methods to help your young infant feel secure, loved, and content. He teaches the correct way to swaddle your infant, the importance of sucking, and how to calm a screaming baby with a number of ‘S’ techniques. He uses screaming and worked up infants as ‘models’ in his demonstrations to show it’s effectiveness. You can look him up on YouTube as well as learn quite a bit without spending a cent.
Don’t Forget Your Friends and Family.
An awesome source of preparation is other mothers. I had a mother of eight that I called regularly after Veronica and Timothy were born (thank you Michelle!). I figured that she had eight so she had to be an expert, right?!? She laughed, and now, being a mother of twelve, I can laugh as well. She definitely helped me with the basics; how high is too high of a fever, how do I help Veronica fall asleep, when do I give her some solid food? And, don’t forget to talk with family, especially grandmas! Most grandma’s love it when someone asks them for help with raising children. It gives them a chance to reminiscence and share their knowledge.
There are other sources of help obviously, your local LLL (La Leche League) for example, but having a friend that has been there is a huge help and comfort. It’s especially helpful if you’re on the same page in regards to your Faith and/or the way you want your children raised.
Basically, my bit of advice is to spend your free time learning from books, friends, and the resources available to you. Your baby will love you for it. 🙂