What does it take to be a mom?

Saturday I got all reminiscent about how I felt about mothering before I had my son—which got me thinking. What skills or talents do you wish you had before you became a mother?

For me, that’s a pretty easy question. My first answer is always PATIENCE. I can be patient with some things, but other things, I expect to go exactly as planned or I basically freak out. This is not only bad when I lose my patience and get upset with my son, but also a bad example of how to deal with stress (and, frankly, every day life, since that’s about how often it happens!).

I also wish I’d gotten a bit more consistent with my housekeeping before he was born. It’s still a constant struggle to keep the floors clean and the dishes done around here (with much credit for the latter due to my husband).

Finally, I think I’d like to have learned more contentment. I don’t know if it’s my age or just my nature, but I frequently suffer from psychological wanderlust—I’m ready to move on to the next thing every so often. (Or perhaps four-month-long courses in college ruined me!) As fast as children grow up, it’s not ever on your time table—and when they do reach that next milestone, how often do we mothers find ourselves thinking “Man, why can’t he grow back down? It was so much easier before he could crawl/walk/drive!”

I wish that I were more naturally adept at surveying my life where it is at a given point and being able to give a satisfied smile without thinking “Okay, good so far—but now what? What should I be working on next? Let’s go, go, go!”

So what skills do you wish you’d developed before your children came along? Or what would you advise a prospective mom to learn before she had children?

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10 thoughts on “What does it take to be a mom?

  1. Most definitely to learn how to live in the moment. I’m pretty spontaneous by nature but it’s also been a constant struggle for me to really just enjoy where I am and what I’m doing. To not wish away the hours until bedtime, the years until loans are paid off, until I have couches, until child number two sleeps through the night or child number one is potty trained. The list could go on (and on and on).

    Once I am able to enjoy right now, nothing else seems to matter as much and I enjoy my kids and my life infinitely more.

  2. Finally, I think I’d like to have learned more contentment. I don’t know if it’s my age or just my nature, but I frequently suffer from psychological wanderlust—I’m ready to move on to the next thing every so often.

    Okay, that is me, exactly.
    I agree with Jenner. I’m forever looking forward which only makes me antsy to reach that point. I am slowly learning to savor where I am currently and I’ve been much better for it.
    I have a long way to go yet.

  3. I agree so much with the wanderlust! I’ve always been the one on the go to the next horizon. Its hard now that I can’t.

    I wish I had learned to be more relaxed. I struggle with wanting to be in control, and controlling little kids is about like herding cats. LOL

  4. Oooh, this is a good one. For me I would have to say, Sacrifice! There are times when I wish that I didn’t have to give of myself. I’ve learned through the years and raising my five children, that parenting is all about sacrifice. We do have to give of ourselves when we don’t want to. We do have to put aside what we want to put our children first. It’s not always like this, you can take “me times”, but for the most part being “Mommy” is who we are.

    My advice would be to learn to give of yourselves when it’s a sacrifice, when it hurts!

  5. Honestly, I wish I’d developed better networking skills. It’s amazing how many things you can get and do when you’re a well-connected mother– and if you take the time to slough through things that may otherwise appear to be cheesy or not worth your while.

    A mother’s lifesaver can be a network of like-minded and like-aged children who look out for one another in a time of need.

  6. Strength in yourself. Strength in your marriage or relationship. Strength in general. I really thought that his village would come out of the woodwork and be here for us, would want to babysit and be with my daughters. I was wrong. It is just us. Most days that is just fine. Some days, the really hard ones, it is tough to swallow that realization.

    My advice is plan on being on your own for everything, then if you have a great support system then you’ll be even better off!

    And, if I may give one more: Being awake. Not just being present, not just being with our children, but really being awake to them, their curiosities, their learning, their gifts.

  7. I have to agree with the first three comments! Contentment. I’ve been working lately on not saying to myself, “I can’t wait till….” I cried last week, when I realized that I had spent a lot of the summer waiting for my kids to go back to school. I really missed them last week, and I was so sad that I’d wished it away. Good insights, Jordan!

  8. Oh everything that has been mentioned here is so true!!! I am sure almost every parent has had those moments where we’ve wished away time….. I think that with each child (I now have 3) I am realising the value of time more and more….

    My other thing is frustration… I need to just let go… Some days I am frustrated and I know that the kids suffer for it… Parents are only human and i guess that being conscious of these things is at least a step in the right direction.

  9. Not to get all holy roller on everyone, but I really wish that I was more deeply spiritual and had a better understanding of God when I had my first child. I used to be an atheist, and since I became religious it’s just stunning to see how much better I’m able to manage the little ups and downs of every day, to just live in the moment and be at peace (I wrote more about that here if anyone’s interested). I wish I’d had that all along — it would have saved me a lot of banging my head into the wall! :)

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