Lila and I not long after she was born
While I would never want to take away from everything I did or experienced as a new mom, I do think there is something to be said for seeing how far you've come. In just over four short years of parenting I've learned a crapload. For instance, how to use words like crapload so that I don't use other bad words.
Seriously though...if I could go back and have a chat with myself I would have so much to say. It would all seem so obvious, but some of it I still struggle with every single day. It would also boil down to two phrases that are said so often yet used so sparingly at times:
LET IT GO
CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES
Dear Sweet New Mom,
First, well done! You managed to give birth, begin breastfeeding, and diaper/clothe your child in a very short amount of time. Realize that this, in itself, is monumental.
Now let's get down to it. In the next four years you will begin to repeat two phrases over and over in your head so many times it will make you wonder when they will stick. Just know that parenting is a never ending road of come to Jesus moments. All of these moments lead you to one of two paths...let it go or choose your battles.
On letting it go...
Your body will never be the same. LET IT GO. Work on being healthy and happy and having less stress. Stress causes more wrinkles and gray hair and more stress eating. Your husband worships you. Bask in that glory.
Guilt is a wasted emotion. LET IT GO. You will spend the rest of parenthood running from that cloud of guilt if you give into it too often. Guilt leads to stress, and I already covered what stress causes. If you must rehash what you feel like was a terrible way to handle something, use it as a tool to do better next time and LET IT GO.
Controlling things is no longer an option. LET IT GO. You are type A, and you need control. In many parts of life this can be a phenomenal quality in a person. In parenting it is the kiss of death. I'm not saying let your children run wild. I'm saying take having complete control out of the equation. The byproduct of doing this is that almost everything will take longer. So what? It never hurts to slow down anyway. Your second child will teach you that you don't have control...EVER. She will break into her horror movie scream (oh yes dear, that is in your future) and you will have to make a choice about your level of control. See below. My advice is to remove the need to control in the first place. Look at everything as a series of choices instead of one way is the right way, and LET IT GO.
On choosing your battles...
Messy is the new clean. I'm not saying dirty but messy. If you have a choice between cleaning a toilet, organizing toys, or doing a puzzle with your two year old CHOOSE THE PUZZLE. Then clean the toilet. The toys will never live in the buckets, baskets, and bins as you tell yourself they should. LET IT GO. Look at that! AND/BOTH my lovely.
Also, in regards to mess, make lots of them. I know how much you struggle with the time it takes to clean up the mess. Here's what you must know. Listen closely.
Mess is part of the most important learning a child can do. It is inevitable and necessary and sometimes even liberating.
If you want her to know how to help her family, let her get water all over the floor while "washing dishes". That's what towels are for. If you want her to see the artist within herself educate yourself on stain removal. It's only paint and you should buy washable anyway. If you want her to know about plants let her dig in the dirt and create a vegetable garden. Getting messy means she's doing it herself and that's how she will learn. Period.
In regards to control, know that the small battles are useless, the medium ones are really just fifty-fifty, and the big ones require some serious thought.
If she refuses to shop unless she's pushing the cart, let her. She can't see over the top of it anyway so just stand at the other end and randomly guide it without her knowing. Maybe you are controlling things a little, but she doesn't know that. The point is, the more you choose to control something less the more you actually accomplish in the end. I would go into potty training here, but you will have to make those kinds of mistakes and then LET THEM GO.
Overall, you will work on these things for a very long time because you want to be a good mom. The examples will change as the years go on, but the rest will stay the same. Don't be mislead into thinking you(I) have mastered any of this as of now. The process never stops.