By Kate Kole
A few weeks ago, I texted my older sister.
“Huggies, Pampers, or other? I’m so overwhelmed.”
I’d just begun our baby registry (about 8 weeks later than recommended) and didn’t know where to start. Diapers seemed like a logical choice. Until I saw all the options. And glanced at all the reviews.
Naturally, I followed my tried and true step-by-step guide for whenever I’m feeling a little frantic.
Step 1: Text Ali. That’s all.
You see, my sister is my chosen superhero. She has 3 boys, ages 6, 8, and 10 and over the last decade, I’ve had countless, I don’t know how she does it moments. But she does. With an admirable mix of moxie, grace, humor, and patience. She is my guiding light in so many areas. But specifically, in this chapter of life, she’s leading the way in what it looks like to raise young kids.
Of course, her babies aren’t really babies anymore. They’re out of diapers, and now bathing, dressing, sleeping, and eating on their own. That’s where my other sheroes come in. The ones just a couple steps ahead of me on this journey. Paving their way before I pave mine.
They volunteer as tribute to be the people I call/text/FaceTime anytime day or night that our son decides not to sleep and drives me crazy. They tell me which breast pump to get (because there are only approximately 7,829 options), hand me down their maternity leggings, share their 4 am breakdowns, feeding triumphs, deepest fears, and newly discovered game changers, ranging anywhere from swaddles to dry shampoo.
They share, in the most honest and vulnerable ways, what this next stage of life may feel like. They spare me the curated Instagram version of motherhood and offer me an inside look into the real, hard, and gratifying one instead. So that when I’m inevitably covered in spit, or poop, or a combination of the two, wondering when I last showered and whether my body will ever look the same again, I may feel exhausted and a little defeated, but I won’t feel alone.
And then, there’s my mom. 30 plus years ahead of me, with a lifetime of wisdom to share. The one who has taught me and shown me what it means to be a mom. Who still climbs into bed next to me when I’m feeling sick, who harbors my disappointments just as deeply as I do, and who and delights in my accomplishments as if they were her own. I’ll know how to love, and to care, and to put someone else’s life ahead of mine, because that’s what she did. It’s what she still does.
I’m sure some mom shaming, mom guilt, mom judgment, and mom comparison – either in my head, or in the world, or both – will come along. I’ll likely read something on the internet and cry because I’ll feel like the author is talking to me, criticizing every non-organic and ineffective decision I’m making. I may struggle as a stay-at-home mom or as a working mom, or as a combination of the two. At some point, I’ll probably feel like every choice is the wrong one, and imagine that all the moms around me are thinking the same.
But for right now, in this moment, I’m just grateful to the moms who came before me. Because their loving, been there, done that voices are the ones assuring me that the brand of diapers doesn’t matter too much. And that I can take on this next chapter of mom life, too.
Featured image via Pexels