Gum in Your Hair

A blog for parents under the big sky.

Editors Voice

::WRITTEN BY LEIGH RIPLEY:: 

OK, all you first time parents; I’m going to give it to you straight.

Mistakes are going to happen. Often. You might prop your infant up for the perfect photo, only to have her slither off the chair the instant you snap the picture. You might turn your back on your baby in the highchair only to find her halfway out of it as you grab her pants/diaper to keep her from hitting the floor head first. You might unknowingly clip a small amount of her flesh into the car seat harness and blame the incessant crying from the back seat on colic.

You’ll probably forget the following things in no particular order: appointments, play dates, entire meals, the diaper bag, the favorite blanket and mittens. You’ll probably decide the yoga pants and oversized sweatshirt you’ve been wearing for three days are perfectly fine for a quick trip to Costco…and then you’ll run into your perfectly put-together friends. You’ll also probably forget to brush your teeth that day. And – this is hard – but you’ll probably bang your baby’s head on something, at some point, and it will probably be more than once.

You will say the wrong thing. You will do the wrong thing. You will find yourself in the grocery store wearing your slippers, again…with possibly a small amount of baby vomit or poo on your shirt, again. You will have adult-sized temper tantrums that in retrospect are far worse than a 3-year-olds. You won’t trust your mommy instinct when you need to the most (that one SUCKS).

You might…probably…actually, no – I’m giving it to you straight, remember? You WILL NOT be a perfect parent. Say these words out loud. Now say them again and try to believe it. What you will be is the best, most loving and devoted fallible parent you can be to your children. And that’s more than enough.

I urge you not to go to bed at night perseverating on something you did wrong – or wish you had handled differently. You’re going to anyway, but let me give you some advice: Babies are like puppies: They wake up loving you 110 percent every day no matter what yesterday held (at least until they’re teenagers and that’s not something you need to think about right now).

I urge you to give yourself and your baby grace. If you are a first-time parent, then you are both trying to figure this out. Now logic says babies can’t help being colicky, or biting your nipple or crapping all over your lap…but parents can control themselves and their own behaviors. Ha! Ever heard of the fourth trimester? Giant underpants and diaper-like pads that get stuck in your episiotomy stitches. Sleep deprivation. Leaky boobs. A body that still resembles pregnancy, but isn’t. Well-meaning friends and family offering unsolicited advice all day long. Topped off with a heaping dose of all-over-the-charts, raging hormones. I don’t know about you, but that list alone gives a woman the right to not be her best self and in control of everything. So give yourself some grace.

And give yourself some space. Yup, space away from your baby. Even if it’s for one hour a week to work out, get your hair or nails done, have a lunch date or just nap at a friend’s house. Make sure you give “me time” at least one line on your to-do list. You had a baby…but YOU didn’t disappear. With all of this exploding love for your new little person, don’t forget to love yourself.

And mamas, if you need more than grace and space, promise to get some help. It’s nothing at all to be worried or ashamed of. We’ve teamed up with Roots Family Collaborative again to publish the Roots Wellness Guide: Resources for Pregnancy to Parenthood, which can be found on page 17 of this month’s magazine. Pull it out. Refer to it. Share it with friends. Use it. Because none of us is perfect, and any and all of the help you may need can be found within its pages. From the Montana Parent moms to all Montana moms: Let’s work together to become our best selves… and let’s go easy on each other when we are not.

Montana Parent employs 10 mamas, one dad and a grandpa with ...26 children, five grandchildren and one bun in the oven (or maybe new baby by the time this issue hits the stands). Alexis Brill and Andrew Matney are excited to welcome the newest member of our family. Check out their beautiful picture on our cover this month. We’ve got your back, Montana parents!