Ten Years Into Parenting: This Is What I Know for Sure

Ten years into parenting, I sometimes feel like I know less now than ever before. And that got me thinking, what do I know for sure about parenting? What do I know for sure about being a mom? Here’s what I’ve got:

• You’ve got to hang on to the beautiful little moments that bring happy tears. So much of the rest of the time is trudging through the sleepless nights, etc., so when you get that smile or hear that giggle—soak it up and stay there for a while. And record it, too, so that you can refer back to it while your kids are melting down.

• An OB/GYN and a pediatrician whom you love and trust are so incredibly important. You should feel like you’re on the same team and that they’re rooting for you and your child.

• Parenting never really gets easier. It gets easier, harder, easier, harder. As soon as you master one set of challenges, a new set appears. Feeling this today, as I write this.

• Potty training is overrated. You realize that as soon as you find yourself standing in the grossest gas station bathroom after hearing your toddler scream that she HAS TO PEE, even though you’re only one mile from your house. Le sigh.

• It can be so lonely being a mom before your kids are in school. Try to get out there and find your village. Go to coffee shops, playgrounds (even if your baby is a newborn!), new mom support groups, walking routes popular with other moms—just get out there and try to meet people. You’ll find your group.

• The lessor-known milestones are some of the best—watching your toddler learn to jump, hearing your new reader spell out signs, or seeing your big kid blow their first bubblegum bubble.

• You do you, mama. Stay in your lane, parent the way you want to parent, and don’t worry so much what everyone else is doing. They’re not parents to YOUR kids.

• You can buy all the parenting books in the world, but the best resources are your pediatrician, your mom, and one or two more seasoned moms that you can look to for advice.

• No one—I do mean no one—knows your child better than you do. As such, you are their best advocate.

• Sometimes you get it wrong. Sometimes you find out that cranky toddler really has an ear infection. It happens. Try not to beat yourself up about it. And yes, that's what I tell myself, too.

• Tylenol suppositories are amazing when your baby can’t keep medicine down. It’s true.

• Not being able to rescue your kids is one of the hardest parts about being a parent. On the other hand, I know it’s a necessary part of my kids growing up and figuring out life. (But I still hate it, to be clear.)

• Kids are not clones of you, and may in fact prove themselves to be quite different from you. Adjust, adapt, and accept that. Moreover, each of your kids will be different and likely need different things.

• We, as moms, are so hard on ourselves. We’ve got to let it go. We’re all doing the best we can, and I’m pretty sure we also want the best for our children.

• It really doesn’t matter if you change the pee-filled sheets in the middle of the night. Throw a towel on it, go back to bed, and deal with that tomorrow.

• You don’t really fully appreciate everything your parents have done for you until you become a parent.

• Band aids can fix ANY real or imaginary scrapes or injuries. Go ahead and buy stock now if you haven’t already.

• NO ONE has it all figured out. NO ONE.

• This too shall pass. SO MUCH THIS. Everything is a phase—it’s all a phase. And that’s why when I ask my Mom how she did X, Y, or Z, she rarely remembers and just gently shrugs. And it’s why I can’t remember when my kids started baby food or first learned to crawl. You blink and you’re on to the next phase.

• The best days of my life are when my six kids were born. I didn’t know it then, but they would change my life in the most beautiful and unexpected ways. As I’ve said before, it’s all so much MORE. More wonderful, exhausting, emotional, and magical than I ever could’ve imagined.

To my six little ones--I love you bigger than the sky and higher than the moon. And I hope you know that.