What I have learned being a young mom

It was a just a few months after I had graduated college when I found out that I was going to be a mom. Anyone who knew me before then knew I had NO idea what to do with a child. If there had been a test to take before being allowed to have children I would have definitely failed it. I hadn’t planned on having kids until I was at least 30, had traveled the world, started a career, cured cancer, walked on the moon, and owned an island. But clearly that was not in God’s plan. So fast forward through the crying, the denial, the panicky scary what-am-I-going-to-do-now-How-do-I-tell-my-parents, phase and here I am with my beautiful baby boy.

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                 The journey of motherhood has not been easy for me but it has been…well a journey. I have discovered a lot of things about myself and life after having my son. Overall I think having my son has made me a better person. Here are some of the things that I have learned being a young mom and how I benefited from it:

1.  Whoever you are BEFORE you had a child dies. 

Maybe not completely, there are still traces of you in there, perhaps the core of who you were, but the rest is gone. At least that was the case for me. (Side note: if you were always a responsible, professional baby raiser who always has things together then perhaps you won’t change). In my case, before I had my son I felt like I was feather floating in the wind. I pretty much did whatever I wanted, when I wanted to. I loved to travel, hang out with my friends, go out and party, or just sleep and work. I was the type of person who would call my friends and ask them if they wanted to go to Panama because I saw the tickets were on sale (and yes we went!). But now that I have my son, I feel like he is my anchor, my reasoning. He holds me in place and reminds me that there is so much more in the world and things that actually matter. I no longer sleep in as late as I want, 1 because my son wouldn’t let me, and 2 there just so many things to do! I hated waking up early in the morning and now I’m up at the crack of dawn just so I can feed my son breakfast before taking him to daycare (and I actually enjoy it!). If my 18-year-old self could see me now..

When I first had my son I thought there was no way that I would get use to being up early, being in charge of feeding and dressing not only myself but him, while working and trying to be the best mom that I could be. However, I am more responsible, I can multi-task like nobody’s business, and I have grown accustomed to being up early, working, and being able to cook dinner and enjoy evenings with my son. When you have kids it is scary and you do have to adapt to a whole new life, but I’m definitely a better person because of it.

2. Saving money for the future is really important. 

I always thought the idea of saving money was something you did for when you were going to retire at the ripe age of 50 or 60 right? Nope. Now that I have my son depending on me I realized that saving money is important for me, for him, his college, my retirement, and our lives. I realize now there are so many different reasons to be saving money that I forget to keep money for everyday use! (Some might say how could I not know that saving money was important, which is a good question, and my answer would be I enjoyed travelling and having fun instead of saving money. See #1)

Also, after being a struggling college student, I quickly found out how important having money saved for tuition is. So after speaking with my bank I opened a 529 plan for my son to save money for his college education. it was really easy and anyone can contribute to it for birthdays or holidays! I will thank myself 18 years from now.

3. Sleep is very valuable

When I was younger sleep wasn’t all that important to me. I hated taking naps and  having to go to sleep at “descent hour” for school the next day. In high school I didn’t sleep much because there was always something to do. In college I started to appreciate naps more, however I would still sacrifice sleep for a late night out or for studying. But now that I have my son and I know what it is like to run off 2 or 3 hours of sleep I realize SLEEP IS VERY IMPORTANT. A good amount of sleep could be the difference between remembering to pick your kid up when you walking out the door, drinking breast milk instead of real milk out of your cup, or leaving your keys in the door and not realizing it until you try to start your car.

4. You find out who your friends are

You lose a lot of things when you have child, not just at a young age, but any age. You lose sleep, time, patience, the will to want to put on pants so that you can go out in public. Because of that it kind of makes it hard to be a good friend. For me I was no longer able to just hop in the car and go places with my friends. If they want to go shopping or randomly do something I sometimes miss out on that because my son might be sick and can’t go from store to store, or I don’t want to be out too late. I have missed a lot of events and activities with my friends and I feel like I’m not as good as a friend as I used to be. However, my friends have been there with me every step of the way. When I don’t feel like going out or putting pants on my best friends have come over to watch movies with me. One New Year’s when I couldn’t go out and celebrate my best friend came over, we had a Twilight session and drank sparkling grape juice like it was champagne. When I take my son places with us they are always willing to lend me a helping hand. My friends could have left me behind, and I have spoken with some young women who feel they no longer have friends now that they have a kid. So I can honestly say thank God for my friends who have never left my side.

5. Everyone has an opinion on how you should raise YOUR kid

One of the toughest parts about being a young mom is I didn’t know much about raising a child. I will admit to that. It took me a long time to realize that there is NO perfect way to raise a child. There is no manual, no guidebook because every child is different. However, it seems like everyone has an opinion on how I should handle my son. From what he eats, to what he wears, to if I should cut his hair, take him to the dry, what daycare he should go to, if he should be formula fed or breast-fed. EVERYTHING. To a young mom, who doesn’t know much, the extra wisdom and guidance can be very helpful. But in some instances it can be downright annoying. In the end I learned I have to remember that my son is MY son, and I have to make the best decisions I can for him.

6. Everything will be okay

As a mom, I spend about 91% of my life worrying about my son. I worry if he has had enough to eat, if his diaper is still dry, is he comfortable in his cloths, is he healthy, does he have enough books, am I feeding him enough nutritious food, is the daycare safe. Worry, worry, worry. At first, this life scared me. I felt like my son was so fragile and I would break him because I wasn’t prepared for everything. Sure it’s okay to worry, but I have to remember that he is in good hands. I pray that God takes care of my son, and provides the guidance for me raise my son in the right way. Sure this is a big scary world and you can’t protect kids from everything, but spending so much time worrying doesn’t protect them either.

So every now and then I have to remind myself: take a deep breath, he will be O K A Y.

7. YOU are enough

In between worrying about my son’s health and making sure that he is okay, I spend a great deal of time criticizing myself and worrying if I am enough. Since I am raising my son alone I often worry about how he will turn out being raised by a single mom, and if that is going to be enough. Enough meaning is he going to be prepared to take on life and be successful. I often wonder if I am enough, if I am giving him enough to prepare him for his future. And I again I have to remind myself to take a deep breath, and remember that I am ENOUGH. I am the mother God gave him. My son was meant for me and I do the best I can for him every single day. And that is enough.

There ya have it! It’s a small but pretty powerful list of things that I have learned from being a young mom. There are definitely more things that I have learned in which I will add-on later. But these are the biggies to me. If you have any lessons you have learned feel free to share 🙂

And for all you young moms, seasoned moms, fun moms, not-all-together-moms out there: YOU’RE DOING A GREAT JOB. (In case you haven’t heard it)

Remember to SHARE LOVE,

Anitra Oneill

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