There’s no shortage of advice for moms out there. New moms, experienced moms–everyone has something to share. The worst kind of advice is the kind that comes unsolicited and without regard for your circumstances. The best kind of advice is the kind that comes with permission and stands the test of time.
When I was a brand new mom, I frequently sought advice from some of the more experienced moms I knew–friends who had undertaken motherhood years before me, who I’d watched with curiosity and more than a little bit of awe.
I trusted their counsel and took comfort in their words. Even if I ended up making different choices than them, I respected their opinions and valued their insight.
It was one of these friends who gave me the best piece of advice I’ve ever received as a mother, one that I’ve turned to again and again over the years.
The advice she shared with me was that, even though I may make certain choices for my life right now, I could always make different choices later. Your plans can change, and that’s OK. Simple, but completely mind-bending to me at the time.
She shared this bit of advice with me over lunch during my maternity leave. As I held my wriggling 3-month-old in my lap and took the occasional bite of summer salad, I explained my plans for my eventual return to work. I expressed my concerns about being away from my son and over the huge changes that loomed ahead.
My friend’s statements, while seemingly simple, were a revelation to me at the time, and frankly, not exactly what I wanted to hear.
I wanted her to say that the plans I made would be perfect, then and forever. I was already nervous about the new transitions that awaited me as a working mom and all the choices I had already made as a new parent. I didn’t want to think that I’d have even more choices to make later on, or that the decisions I had already made for my family could end up being the wrong ones.
As someone who has never been a huge fan of major life change, I wanted to feel I’d be able to settle in to my new life once the dust cleared. I didn’t want uncertainty. I didn’t like uncertainty. I wanted to find comfort in consistency.
But the incredible thing about this advice was that it stood the test of time. I grew into it, and eventually, found comfort in it. While my freshly minted new mom self may not have been ready to hear that life could and would eventually change again, the more experienced me was able to see value in the fact that, although life would bring many changes, I had the power to change with it.
Life will change again and again, whether you want it to or not.
If motherhood teaches us one thing, it is that time marches forward. Though the days are long, the years are short, and what works now will not always work for us later.
The ability to make plans, assess your circumstances, and revise if needed is a beautiful thing. I know that now, and I hope you do too.