Growing up, I always knew I wanted a big family. I’m not really sure why but that was my plan. I was going to grow up, be a doctor, get married, and have at least two kids.
Here we are in 2019 and I’ve achieved some of those goals…but just not the way I envisioned. So, what have I done to this point? I’m married, have not two BUT three children, two dogs, and a pretty stable career. Oh, and I’m not a doctor either — chemistry and I just couldn’t come to an understanding, so that ship sailed shortly after that realization.
I talked before in The Disregarded Mother about some of the struggles I have faced in “learning” how to be a mom. I was navigating being in a new relationship, getting ready how to potty train an almost-two-year-old (which I had never done), and learning how to deal with teenagers — which I’ve also never done. I thankfully had the love and support of my now husband and my family. However, it still didn’t come without challenges.
I am over 4 years into this motherhood thing and I’ve picked up more than my share of advice along the way. Some tidbits have been extremely helpful, and others not so much. The beauty of that is advice works both ways — and I happen to have some for you! When you learn someone is a bonus mom, think on these things.
Growing up in a Caribbean household, things have always been pretty black and white to me. There were very things that fell in between and when they did, there was a good reason for it. That way of thinking did NOT fly when I became a bonus mom. There were routines that existed before me and while those routines could be adjusted, I needed to be flexible enough to manage — especially when teenagers and a toddler are involved.
As smart as I know I am, I don’t know everything. There’s always something more to learn and accepting that fact made the transition so much easier. In theory, you would think that feeding, clothing, and loving children are pretty simple. WRONG! Every child has their own personality and you have to learn how best to work with that personality. In my case, I had three personalities to learn. It took me a while but I finally have a handle on how all three of them operate — and it has been wonderful!
This one was one of my hardest lessons. Spoiler Alert — the next one was the hardest lesson, hands down! However, we are talking about the beauty of patience right now. I am already one of the most impatient people I know. My impatience was a recipe for disaster at the beginning of motherhood — and it still is in some ways.
I just could not understand why teenagers move so slow and why it took so long for them to let their guard down. After all, I literally poured all of the love I have into them — but they needed to get to know me and accept that I was not going anywhere. I will admit that it tore me up in the beginning. However, we all worked toward that common goal together and the end result was definitely worth the wait!
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help
Remember TLC’s “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”? Well, I am too proud to beg and it literally made me nauseous to ask for help. This motherhood journey changed that — for the most part. As a military spouse, there are times when you cannot do anything but ask for help. A great example is when your spouse deploys or gets assigned to a new duty station. It is already tough being separated as a family but being separated with three kids, two dogs, and four fish is a completely different monster.
Although it was not ideal, my husband’s last assignment is actually what got me comfortable asking for help. I did not like it initially but I also did not have a choice at times. Now that he is back, I do not need help with the same things. However, I have peace in knowing that it is okay to ask when I do need help — which helps me to function better and smarter as a mom.
Create and Enforce Boundaries
Boundaries are honestly one of my favorite things — almost more than coffee! This motherhood journey has taught me how important it is to create and enforce boundaries. When you are a strong person, people literally think you are invincible. No! I get tired, I stretch myself too thin, and I used to hate saying “no”. When I began setting boundaries, I realized that “no” can either be a sentence fragment or a complete sentence. I decided to make my “no’s” a complete sentence. Why? Because I know what is best for me and my family — and I do not have to convince anyone else of that.
Enjoy the Ride
There isn’t much left to say here. Celebrate the small victories and take time to smell the roses. Before you realize it, you will blink and your children will be grown. Do you really want to spend your entire childhood worrying about how great of a mom you are? I did not think so! Stop sweating the small stuff and enjoy the ride. We all have room for improvement but all they want is to know that you love and care for them. Trust me, the rest will fall into place.
Did one of your favorite bonus moms come to mind when you read this? If so, share it with her. She probably needs a little pick me up but won’t say it for fear of judgment. You don’t need to make it a big deal — just slide this article her way. Trust me, she’ll thank you!
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