- At Home
It usually comes at the most random of moments: The epiphany that you, a mother, are no longer the newbie in the world of motherhood.
This sudden realization might hit you when you’re covered in your child’s vomit or observing the nervous moms peeking in the windows of the church nursery.
But at some point, there is that defining moment when a woman discovers she has transgressed from "new mom" to "seasoned mom," and sometimes the feelings that immediately follow can vary - everything from nostalgia to relief.
Here are five signs that you are (or are becoming) a seasoned mom:
1. Vomit has lost its smell.
Of course, I’m referring to the vomit belonging to only your own children; any excrement or liquids expelled from children not related to you still smell. When my sons were little, just the mere sight of anything ugly or foul-smelling within a mile radius triggered my gag reflex. Now, years later, I can nonchalantly look at the vomit and feel (and smell!) nothing, except for the empathy pain that my child is sick or the relief that it made it into a bowl and was not splattered all over my car. Sometimes, I even play detective and study it to try to figure out what chunk of food might have inspired sickness.
By the way, if the previous sentences make you queasy, chances are good that you might not be a seasoned mom yet.
2. You know when to hover and when to step back.
There were moments on the playground when my children were young that I seriously thought they’d end up in a hospital due to falls. (A couple of times they actually did; monkey bars can be perilous.) Moms in a playground scene can be fun to watch - especially the newbies. There are those that obsessively hover, and there are those who don’t even pay attention at all (and some who are nowhere to be found!).
A seasoned mom knows the comfortable boundaries for her children and how much she can trust them on the playground equipment. Through years of trial-and-error or just acquired common sense, she has learned when to stand close by and when to stand back. And if her child does fall, she waits a second before freaking out and checks her own reaction because she knows that oftentimes he will cry only because he sees her fear. Expressions and reactions can be contagious like that.
3. Warnings are communicated in a timely manner.
A seasoned mom knows the perfect time to dispense the relevant cautionary notes to her children in any given situation.
For example, ever see a boy running backwards while trying to catch a ball, and he smashes into a tree or another kid? A seasoned mom would have likely predicted this early on and warned accordingly. A newbie would have tried the ‘watch-and-learn’ technique, noticed her son rubbing his head AFTER the incident, and said, “Johnny, be careful.” Of course, this wisdom would have been more useful 10 seconds earlier.
4. Dispensing and receiving advice becomes an art form.
Mothers can be your toughest crowd in terms of dishing out advice; sometimes they can be the most judgmental. If you are currently a new mom (or plan to be soon), be prepared for unsolicited advice or, as some might affectionately coin it, “constructive feedback.” And as a newbie, you might feel compelled to follow every piece of advice and, dare I say, you might even try to advise seasoned moms about your newly acquired knowledge. Tip: Some seasoned moms do not like receiving advice from new moms.
A seasoned mom is more discerning about who she listens to and who she politely disregards or avoids. One of the most random pieces of “advice” I received was when I was about seven months pregnant and in the elevator. A young man looked at my belly and then leaned in and said, “You shouldn’t be riding in an elevator in your, um, condition.” The newbie mom would either be shocked at such a statement or might even ponder if it had merit. The seasoned mom would, well, she would likely know exactly how to respond to that. And, her “eloquent” and succinct response might motivate him never to utter a comment like that again.
5. Your worries evolve.
As a new mom, daily life can be almost overwhelming with so many of the “little things.” I remember having to count out how many wet diapers I changed to make sure my baby was nursing okay. I focused on how many hours he slept, what he ate, if he had pooped his pants, if he had burped after eating, how many words he had learned, how much “tummy time” he had, what teeth were popping through, if his asthma coughs were “wet” or “dry,” and into what body orifice he might have squished a corn kernel. I worried about him being developmentally behind others, if children were nice to him on the playground, if I was getting enough sleep, what the other moms thought about me, if I’d be invited to a Moms-Bunco night, if I’d lose the baby fat, what pairs of jeans still didn’t fit, etc.
Seasoned moms worry about completely different things -- things like what websites their teenagers are browsing, will high school acne ever go away, are insults from the mean girls permanently scarring, did Johnny eat at least something healthy today, what was happening at the slumber party, etc. Instead of worrying about losing the pregnancy baby fat, the seasoned mom might just reassure herself that if she’s not wearing “mom pants” and isn’t as big as Mrs. Jones down the street, then a few extra pounds aren’t all that bad.
Seasoned or not…
Although new moms and seasoned moms can be quite different in life stage, attitudes and preferences, one of the benefits we share is that we are always learning -- from each other and from our children. If we pay attention, we can continue to evolve into better mothers by learning from our experiences, our mistakes, and our achievements. Even the most seasoned mom can always discover something new…and then pay it forward.
And lastly, just because we’re all used to giving or receiving advice (solicited or not), here is one of my favorites (and not just because I’m guilty of doing this):
Don't ever tell the mother of a newborn that her baby's smile is just gas. -Jill Woodhull