We Are Both Right

Best Of: Advice on Being a Mom

What motherly words of advice were like a life saver for you? © Arjun Kartha / stock.xchng

Whether it’s your very first Mother’s Day or your twentieth, you have undoubtedly received some great advice that helped you along the way.

You know the kind we mean. The few words that picked you up when you needed it most. Or the detailed instructions that got you through those first few days home with baby.

Whatever they were and whoever uttered them — those words of wisdom made you realize that you were not alone in the sometimes overwhelming world of motherhood.

We’re sharing ours and we hope you will too:

AMANDA: One of the best pieces of advice about motherhood came, from all people, my husband. Now while he’s a great dad and the best father for my children that I could ever want or hope for, he is undoubtedly not a mother, nor will he ever be.

Still, I will always be grateful for his words of wisdom.

Start a blog.

I know, it’s not a sentimental pearl. Heck, it can’t even be classified as practical. But it was what I needed at the time and personally and professionally changed my life.

For years I had been writing professionally. Writing. Writing. Writing. My dream right? I thought so. Except I wasn’t happy. I was in a total rut. Because for all the words I was churning out on a daily basis, none of them were mine really. It’s not like I was plagiarizing or anything, but I wasn’t writing for me. I was writing what other people wanted me to write. And I was tired.

And then I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with my youngest. We were freaked to say the least. I mean, we had talked about maybe having a third, but I think we were just about over it. My elder two were in elementary school, I had just lost about 35 pounds (all the baby weight!) — we were happy with our little unit just the way it was. And then two lines.

Big picture I was excited, but acutely, I was overwhelmed. Totally on so many levels. T. and I decided to keep the pregnancy under wraps for a while — we wanted our kids to be the first to know and before we told them about their new little sibling, we wanted to be sure everything was OK. The problem was, I was having trouble not talking about the pregnancy to my family and friends, especially under the surprise circumstances. I was hormonal. I was having mood swings. And I had no outlet, except for one person. And I think he was tired of hearing me talk.

So in his infinite wisdom, or maybe it was desperation, my husband suggested I start a blog.

The thing was, blogging definitely helped me work through my feelings, but it did other things too. Because suddenly I was writing again. Really writing. Like back in high school, dear diary, writing for myself writing. My voice was there all along, I just hadn’t been using it.

It felt so good to write what I wanted and how I wanted to write it. Not the repurposing I was doing in my paid jobs — press releases and stories on parenting that had been written umpteen times. But the funny thing was, the more I wrote about the soon-to-be-S., the more relaxed I became with my other projects. Everything improved. It was amazing.

So short term, the blog was helping me professionally and emotionally. But as time went on, I realized it had a much greater, valuable purpose. It’s S.’s history — his life and my pregnancy with him.

Now I haven’t been as good as I used to be as writing in it, but when I go back and look, I can not only read about S.’s “firsts” in great detail, but incidents and milestones that I would never think to record in a baby book. Funny yarns like the time C. lost S.’s exersaucer and all of his funny nicknames, as well as things from my pregnancy like how I was a childbirth class delinquent.

When I look at C.’s and A.’s baby books I see a lot dates and grasp at fuzzy details at the edge of my memory. When I read the blog about S., I remember.

SUZANNE:  It was my first job out of college and I was an assistant in the public relations office of a hospital. At the helm was this vibrant woman in her forties who was the best mentor you could want. She was a Fulbright Scholar. Be it in the Board Room or on Broadway, she had stage presence. She spoke as passionately about breastfeeding as she did her career. She was a fabulous cook, a gardener and looked as put together in Chanel as she did a barn jacket. In other words, you could say she knew a little about doing it all.

And even though I worked for her years before I had my first child, there was one piece of advice from her that I never forgot.

Superwoman. Stupid woman.

Yes, that was her advice. The woman who seemingly did it all said you were stupid if you thought you could do it all.

Which means a lot more to me now than it did then.

By nature, I’m the consummate multi-tasker. I feel accomplished when I fill my days to the max. But lately it seems to have reached a crescendo. My mind is now racing around the clock. My children are seeing way too much of a harried mom who is short on energy.

And I’m beginning to realize that if I keep pushing the limits, instead of having it all, I might actually lose it all. How I wish she was still around to ask her what to do next.

But I guess that’s the thing about advice. It’s like someone coming along and cleaning the eyeglasses you didn’t even know were dirty. And then it’s up to you to find your own way.

Or meet someone with some more great advice.

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What’s the best advice you’ve received since becoming a mom? What advice would you give to a mom-to-be? (Besides telling them to visit We Are Both Right!)

Reflections on the Joy of Motherhood

The joy of motherhood

How on earth did I get so lucky?

I am a mother. A simple enough statement. Four little words. But the meaning behind them is immeasurable.

I am a nurse, a cook, a chauffeur, a therapist, a teacher, a party coordinator, an ATM. A personal shopper, a medic, a protector, a camp counselor,  a coach. A cruise director, a life organizer, a drill sergeant, a travel agent.

I am a mother.

Every once in a while someone will do a story on how much a mother is “worth,” that is if there was such a thing as being paid to be a mother, how much would it be. ($211,813 per year for me according to this site.)

But amazingly enough, for all I give my children, they give me more. Oh, so much more.

Because those four little words — I am a mother — means I get to be around three wonderfully, amazing children who fill my life with love and hope and endless happiness. No matter how bad or desperate things get on the “outside” — in other parts of my life, in the world at large — I have these three reset buttons waiting for me. Loving me. And needing me to love them.

First steps. Notes in a lunchbox. A baby falling asleep on my chest. Surprise parties. A big hit in a little league game. Preschool. Riding the subway. A hundred on a spelling test. First words. DisneyWorld. Baskets at basketball games. Science projects. Climbing the Rocky Mountains in a rainstorm. First note played on a trumpet. Pierced ears. First chorus concert. Scoring a soccer goal. Birthday parties. Handmade necklaces. Cards, cards and more cards. Coming home from the hospital. Moving into a new house. The smell of a baby after a bath. And “google” more, as my daughter A. would say.

And don’t get me wrong. Being a parent isn’t all songs and roses. Hardly. Many of my darkest moments — the ones that terrified me or angered me or made me feel the least proud were a direct result of being a parent. And even on the days when they drive me the craziest (and oddly enough, maybe it is on the days they drive me the craziest), those are seconds when I’m the most aware of a mother’s love, and its ability to transcend everything.

I am a mother. I am happy.

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While technically we aren’t hosting a “Where We Meet Week,” in the interest of Mother’s Day, Suzanne and I have agreed to dedicate our posts this week to all things motherhood.