The Mom Manual I never knew I needed wouldn’t contain a list of baby registry must-haves or a training session on sleeping through the night. I used to joke about needing a manual to get me through the leaps with my little guy or to give me a heads up on the things I didn’t feel prepared for. I heard birth horror stories and repetitive “sleep when the baby sleeps” words of advice, but that isn’t what I needed. My Mom Manual would contain a warning for the heartbreaks you never knew you would experience, a prep kit for the first time you take your little to the hospital, and never-ending therapy sessions on mom guilt. Here are a few things I wish I had a mom manual to tell me:
Mom Manual, Section 1: Motherhood Heartbreaks You Didn’t Expect
These heartbreaks are so bittersweet because, on one hand, you are proud of your baby for growing and learning, but on the other, your sweet little baby is growing so fast! Be prepared to cry when your baby outgrows a size, and you have to switch out all their clothes to the next size up. Be prepared to happy and sad cry when your little starts eating real food. Be prepared to mourn the loss of the bottle when they transition to sippy cups. Be prepared to lose it when you put in the outlet covers because your little is on the move and no longer needs you to carry them from room to room. Be prepared to break down when you throw out the baby bathtub. Be prepared to fall apart over the baby toy overhaul when rattles are no longer the go-to. Be prepared for all the little changes to hurt almost as much as they excite. I am so happy when he gets to a new phase, but I also have to take a moment to miss the old. Watching him grow and become independent is amazing and makes me so proud, but it takes a little piece of this mama’s heart with it.
Mom Manual Advice: Growth and change are both happy and sad. Be excited about the new phase and allow yourself a moment to miss the previous one.
Mom Manual, Section 2: The Hospital Haul
I don’t know if it’s just my wild kid or what, but we have taken one too many ambulance rides before he hit the age of one. The ER staff has seen me ugly cry one too many times this past year because no one prepared me for the emotional rollercoaster of taking my baby to the emergency room. Taking your baby to the pediatrician and watching them cry over their exams is one thing, but holding your baby down to get oxygen cannulas taped to their face or strapped to a gurney in an ambulance just hits differently. The environment of the hospital makes everything seem so much more dramatic and intense. I was not prepared for the guilt that comes with taking your child to the hospital, alongside the fear that something could go wrong. Honestly, I was not prepared for the fake judgment I felt. In my head, I created this narrative that having to take him to the emergency room or being admitted to the hospital made me a bad mom and as if all of the staff there was judging me. Realistically I know that isn’t true, but my mom brain still struggles with this one.
Mom Manual Advice: Your kid is going to get sick, scraped, and bruised. It’s what kids do! It’s scary and overwhelming, but it’s par for the course. You are doing great, Mama!
Mom Manual, Section 3: Mom Guilt
Mamas, this is the biggest one! I heard the phrase prior to becoming a mom, but it never really resonated with me. Mom guilt is the bane of my existence. It is all-consuming and controls every decision I make. I’m not being prideful or egotistical that I don’t want other people to watch my kid, it’s that my brain literally tells me how terrible of a mom I am for leaving him with Grandma so I can go to my doctor’s appointment. Taking a shower and leaving the baby to play with dad? Mom guilt. Going to the grocery store alone? Mom guilt. Having a career? Mom guilt. Mom guilt hits over the basic everyday tasks and can become debilitating. Taking time for yourself does not make you a bad mom. You need time for yourself so you can be the best mom. You cannot pour from an empty cup.
Mom Manual Advice: Just like on an airplane, put the mask on yourself before assisting others. Schedule time for yourself in your day that isn’t going to the grocery store or taking a shower. Do something just for you and forget about the mom guilt for a little.
About the Author
Sydney Healey is a cancer warrior, small business owner, Realtor, and boy mom. She grew up in Jacksonville and loves exploring all the great things and events this city has to offer. In her free time, you can find her at the beach or taking her little guy to check out a park or local small business.