When I first became a mom, I was stuck between my old carefree 20-something self and the person I thought a “mom” should be. My twin babies were born when I was 27 years old. Now I know I’m no teen mom, and I know that in many parts of the U.S., that’s a pretty average age to have babies.
However, in Los Angeles and most major cities, careers come first and having babies is usually reserved for your 30s or 40s. When you’re the first of your friends to take the plunge into motherhood, you become an oddity and it’s up to you to figure out how to rock being “the young mom.”
Be True to Yourself
I’ve said it before; the transition into motherhood is a doozy. As a young mom, you’re faced with your own set of challenges. Not only are you trying to figure out who you are as a mother, but you’re also trying to find out who you are as a “grown-up.” Forget your teen years ― motherhood is the real coming-of-age story.
Before kids, I thought that I would make my own organic baby food and cook up healthy Pinterest recipes. I figured that’s what real moms do, right? Wrong. I quickly realized that just because you’re a mom, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to suddenly love cooking and cleaning. I hate cooking and cleaning. And that’s OK.
It’s also OK to still do the things you loved pre-kids. Just because you’re a mom doesn’t mean you have to roll over and die. Go to concerts, go out with friends, blast music in the car. You have so many more responsibilities at home than the majority of your peers. Give yourself some credit and let your hair down every once in awhile.
Just because you can physically do it on your own, doesn’t mean that you should. It isn’t healthy to be with your kids 24/7. They need a break from you to become their own little people and learn how to separate. When I first brought my babies home, I had terrible guilt leaving them with sitters. They would cry when I left. But guess what? They would also cry when I was home. Babies cry. That’s what they do.
Now I’m not saying you should be an absentee parent, but it’s completely appropriate to have a sitter for at least a few hours per week. Even if you’re getting out to just have a cup of coffee alone, you need that time to unwind. Parenting is no joke. Take care of yourself.
Know Social Media Isn’t Real
As millennials, we are inundated with impossibly perfect shots on Instagram and Facebook. When you’re the first of your friends to have a baby, you rely on what you see in the media to prepare you for parenthood. Know that social media isn’t real life. It doesn’t give you a realistic look at the day-to-day life of parenthood.
I babysat a lot before I had kids and thought I understood parenthood. So wrong. What social media doesn’t show you is the all-consuming nature of it all. You don’t just give the kids back at the end of the day. There is no clocking out. There are many times when our lives are far from perfect. Accepting and embracing that imperfection is the only way to happiness. That’s what makes the sweet moments so much sweeter.
Find Your People
It’s true that mommyhood is a little like being in school again yourself. You will need to find your people. Just as you did on the first day of school or the first day of work, you’ll need to scan the playground and find your people. It’s so important to find other parents who you can identify with. You’re going through this journey at the same time and you’ll need to lean on them.
As you transition into parenthood, your old friendships evolve. Some of your single friends may drop off the face of the earth. That’s OK. They may come back into your life later. Your true friends will be there for you even if you aren’t able to see them a frequently as you did pre-kids. Think about your single friends’ perspectives, too. They may assume that you are always busy with the kids or have plans with other families. And you probably assume that your single friends are busy living their lives. Break that cycle. Just because your lives are at different points, doesn’t mean they can’t intersect.
Nobody Knows What They’re Doing
It’s safe to say I’m the youngest mom in the room 99 percent of the time. On the rare occasion that I see someone my age, they generally turn out to be the nanny. Instinctively I get that voice in my head that says, “You’re a fraud! You aren’t supposed to be here! All the other parents are going to figure out you’re young!” The faster you realize that nobody knows what they’re doing, the faster you’ll be able to tell that inner voice to shut up.
In my short 2 1/2 years of parenting, I’ve realized that no new parents know what they’re doing. Even if they read a million books and attend a million parenting lectures, we are all human and you need to find what works for you and your kids. Although older parents may have more life experience than you, it doesn’t mean that they have any more parenting experience than you.
Ditch the FOMO
If you’re among the first of your friends to have a baby, it’s natural to look at your single friends’ carefree travel photos and wild nights out and feel a little FOMO. Know that comparing lives will get you nowhere. There are so many amazing things about being a parent. It’s a gift that not everyone will receive. You may not be able to go on spontaneous adventures or have frequent lavish meals like you used to (unless you’re Beyonce and have a team of people behind you), but you CREATED A HUMAN. Or two! That’s amazing!
Parenthood absolutely changes you. Everything from your relationship with your partner to your body will be different. But at your core, you’re still you. Don’t lose sight of that when you’re just trying to survive this crazy ride.