If you take a glimpse at either of my Instagram accounts, (@hannahonthegrams and @thebeautyofourimperfection) and you’re not a mom yourself, you’d probably think lots of happy, cutesy thoughts about motherhood.
But of course, Instagram is Instagram. And alas, motherhood is a lot more than giggles, cuddly moments, and loving kissy faces. If anything, that probably constitutes for 1% of what really goes on amidst the poop diapers, unexpected pee missiles, tantrums, power struggles, stained clothing, and random Cheerios discovered all around the home.
Truth be told, motherhood is a challenge. If anything, it’s been one of the most challenging seasons of my life. But on the contrary, it’s also been one of the biggest blessings of my life. It all boils down to perspective.
So today, on my toddler’s 2nd birthday, I wanted to share 3 important things that I’ve learned as a young mom, which I truly believe will be helpful to you guys, whether you’re a mom or not:
1. Trust your instinct. Don’t make decisions solely based on what other people tell you, even if they’re also moms.
As a young mom in my mid-20’s, I understand why a lot of older mommies might feel the need or obligation to guide other younger moms. During the first few months of mothering my baby boy Job, I welcomed any sort of feedback openly, until my initial encounter with the types of “overbearing” moms who felt the need to shove unsolicited advice down people’s throats.
Now that it’s been 2 years, I’ve come to realize that yes, I may be on the younger end when it comes to being a mom in this generation, but I know my son better than anyone else. I’ve carried him in the womb for 9 months, given birth to him, lived with him 24/7 since his very first breath, and have observed all of his personality traits as they’ve developed these past two years. There’s a reason why there’s that saying, momma knows best.
While I am always open to hearing other people’s perspectives, especially if they’re older women within my church community who I’ve come to trust and have an actual relationship with, I’m very cautious when people push their ways of parenting when I don’t even know them, or have just met them for the first time.
(And of course, there are exceptions to this. If you’re struggling with Postpartum Depression or Psychosis, in those cases it’s best to make decisions for you and your little one with a trusted, reliable family member or professional who can guide you in doing so.)
2. Be present in the moment. Capturing precious milestones or moments through photos and videos is great, but it doesn’t have to be all the time.
This is one of my main practical recommendations for anyone who asks me for basic tips on parenting, especially because it’s something I wish I had known when Job was first born. Of course, as with every parenting experience, you learn as you go, but looking back, I really wish that I had been more focused on being present in the moment instead of feeling pressured to capture certain moments, so that I could remember them later. These days, it appears that for a majority of us moms, there’s always a line of smartphones trailing our little ones.
Looking back at old videos, it’s amazing to see how my little one interacted back then and to see how much he’s grown since those days. I’m glad I have those clips stored with me. But I think generally speaking, as a society, we’ve lost touched with simply preserving the moment with our memories- without the use of electronic devices to remember them.
There are definitely places and times where using a camera or iPhone to record milestones is necessary, but now, I try my best to make a mental note while I’m with my son to just enjoy the moment for what it is, and to not always feel the need to record or photograph something. Not everything needs to be recorded or displayed to the public. Especially because that’s the basis of what I do by profession/hobby as a Lifestyle Blogger.
3. Meet your child at eye-level. Apologize when you make a mistake. Discipline when necessary, but make sure to distinguish that discipline is out of love and correcting their behavior, not as a way of taking your emotions out on your child. You are their #1 role model and example as a parent.
Growing up as a Korean-American, it’s natural in my parents’ generation to be more distant and authoritative when it comes to parenting or expressing their emotions. Because I’ve observed how that’s affected me and my other Asian-American friends growing up, I wanted to be intentional about establishing a relationship with my little one, where he feels safe in expressing how he feels without any sort of consequence or fear.
As parents, we are the primary example and role model of how to live life, and handle everyday situations we face for our children. If we’re not setting the tone for our kids in our family life, marriage, and day-to-day life events, we can’t expect our kids to just learn from others or get it together themselves.
When I feel like I’ve made a mistake as a mom, as silly as it sounds, I ask Job for forgiveness, even though he can’t speak in complete sentences yet. I tell him that I’m imperfect, but I love him and want the best for him as his mom. Whenever I can, I try to pray with him daily whether it’s a brief prayer before a meal or during his bedtime, so he ultimately knows that in all that I do, I rely on the Lord for my source of strength and wisdom. By doing so, I hope that he would learn from example, and see that my actions align with my words, and that my love for God would reflect God’s goodness, faithfulness, love, and mercy, despite my failures and imperfections.
It’s my prayer that these 3 tips would come in handy if you yourself are a young parent, or are expecting. Even if you don’t have kids, I truly believe that in order to parent effectively, we must be at peace with ourselves, looking to the Lord for guidance and having a heart of humility to learn from our mistakes.
As I celebrate my toddler’s 2 years of life today, I’m incredibly thankful for the ways in which I continually see God touching and redeeming my life. I’m looking forward to all that He has in store for me this year, as a mom, a blogger, and a vessel within the body of Christ.