Several years ago, I took a GRE prep course with 12 to 15 other students. During a break, a classmate joked about the day she brought her first-born son home from the hospital. “So you’re just going to trust me to go home with him?” she asked her doctor. “With no instructions? That’s it? I’m on my own?” We roared laughing as she went on.
Fast-forward seven years to the birth of my first child, and I find myself thinking about my classmate’s words. I know exactly how she felt. Being a new mom is a journey all on its own. As I looked at my baby boy the other day, I said aloud to myself, “I literally have no idea what I’m doing!”
I am hanging onto every word my pediatrician says and relying on the support of my husband--and the occasional Google search. Okay, you got me, Google searches happen daily, not occasionally. Sometimes I wish my son had come with a manual so I can know what’s coming next. A cheat sheet, maybe? The phrase, “On the job training,” has never been more applicable to me than it is now.
Sometimes I look at my son and still cannot fully wrap my head around the amount of love I have for him. It blows my mind that I am responsible for this little life. There are days that I fantasize about turning into a small ninja just to protect him from harm. I imagine all these crazy scenarios where things could go wrong, and I plan out ways to save him. All of a sudden, my home feels like a war zone, and I’m afraid to leave shoes on the floor in certain areas, because--oh no--what if I’m holding him in my arms and trip on one and fall?
Life is full of experiences that make us feel grown-up: paying bills, buying a home, and getting married. But nothing makes you feel more like an adult than being responsible for another life.
My son is only seven months old, but motherhood has already awarded me some gifts. Becoming a mother has forced me to live in the present, put my phone down, and take in the beautiful moments. The expression on his face whenever he learns something new reminds me that I do not want to miss a single moment. One of my friends told me that I should take the good with the bad as I raise my child. There will be hard days, but you are never going to get those days back. You have to make the best of them.
Let’s be honest, when your baby first arrives, you are exhausted--a walking zombie, if you will. Babies have no sense of time. They just know that they are hungry, wet, or want to be held. Every time I get used to a routine, it is time to change because another growth spurt or milestone has occurred. I keep hearing the phrase in my head, “Don’t get comfortable!” I am not comfortable, but I trust myself to be able to adapt. These days, I plan ahead. I finally stopped procrastinating because I just don’t know if the time will be there later. Funny how I used to pray that God would heal me of my procrastinative tendencies; He did that by sending me a kid. I consider this change within myself to be a gift as well.
A close friend of mine, who is a mother of three beautiful baby girls, told me once that having her own children has made her understand her own mother even more. Motherhood has given her the gift of understanding. I know that I will receive more gifts along the way, and I look forward to them.
Recently, I read Glennon Doyle’s book Untamed. My favorite chapter is “Know.” I would call this chapter the heart of the book, because Glennon references it in almost every other chapter. She talks about the knowing that all of us have inside. The knowing is not asking the world’s permission. The knowing allows you to make the best decision on your own, and it will always be the right decision because you made it for yourself. Moreover, no one should know you better than you know yourself. Glennon discovered the knowing through her meditation during quiet time in a closet every day. Now, quiet time can be almost impossible to find for a new mom like myself, but my baby’s naptime is the golden time of day.
“For the rest of your life, continue to close the gap between the knowing and the doing” Glennon Doyle
The fact of the matter is, you can read best practices for your children all day long, but no one is going to understand your child the way you will. We have to trust our knowing; we have to trust ourselves. A mother’s intuition is very real. We just have to listen to it. If we are attuned with ourselves, we will be attuned with our children
Although routines are constantly changing, listening to my intuition and being fully present with my son have helped me to understand what he needs and even what I need. Don’t get me wrong; you can find some helpful material about parenting through an enormous amount of online resources, but there are things that only you will know over time, with experience.
When my son Kaiden was born, my friend Samantha said, “Kaiden is your assignment. No one will know him and love him like you.” Those words gave me the reassurance that I have everything I need to guide my son down the best path possible.
I decided to stop trying to figure everything out beforehand and just take things as they come.
For you new mommas and mommas-to-be, I will give you a bit of advice now:
- Trust your instincts; you know more than you think you do.
- Let the people you trust help you.
- Schedule time for yourself, and do something that makes you happy, daily
- Create your own small mommy group, and check in with them weekly; your community is everything
Karlisa Cryer is a Digital Content Strategist for ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she works on the Dream Home initiative. She is a new mom; she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Kaiden Cryer, in February of 2020. She is happily married to the love of her life, Alton Cryer. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville as well as a master’s degree in public administration from Tennessee State University. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
She is a part- time blogger on her site www.karlisacryer.com, which is a platform to highlight women who have a 9 to 5 job with a side passion project. She also shares reflections on personal growth. She is an avid reader, enjoys writing, traveling, and spending time with family.