Congratulations - you are a mom! First and foremost, you are awesome. You probably deserve a mother of the year award, but chances are, you will not not receive one. Or if you do, it will likely be from a spam site that is trying to steal your social security number.
There are a million variations of parenting and loving that you will discover over the coming months and years. They are all wrong. There is an academic journal article that will discredit every choice you make. And every correction you might consider making. You are Facebook friends with the only person who has ever read these obscure articles. Trust your instincts. Sometimes you will know the exact right thing to do. Other times, not so much. Be ready to mess up and own up, a lot. I once called the pediatrician after I dropped a camera on my newborn's head. I could barely speak, I was crying so hard. The doctor stopped me, "Mrs. Llorens, Noah isn't crying. I only hear you crying."
Here is the best parenting advice you will ever receive from a mom (with two data points, thus making her an expert):
1. You're going to get pooped and peed on. It will not be funny in the moment but I promise: the memory will get funnier and funnier over time. My son once peed onto his own face moments after I thought to myself: "I've totally got this." Scrambling to do something about it, I shot breastmilk all over our couch because I was new to breastfeeding and forgot my breast was out. I cried at the time. Now? Hilarious.
2. It will get funnier with time. Even colic can be funny a few years off. My first born cried from 8-12 or 1 am for about 7 weeks straight. It sucked, but I repeated over and over "You are loved, you are safe" (to myself?), cuddling him while he screamed his head off. I can't help but giggle thinking about all of the parental acrobatics suggested by the happiest baby on the block techniques, which failed spectacularly. I am pretty sure I googled "Can my baby go deaf from sushing?" more than once.
3. Stay away from competitive moms. You'll recognize them by their ability to simultaneously be happier and more miserable than you. Their kids are either way more difficult or way more awesome than yours, depending on the Facebook comment they are responding to. Their partner is either Dad of the Year or doesn't help at all, depending on the gush or complaint being volleyed. They love percentiles from their doctor's office. Run. Do not engage. Their kid will eventually eat their own shit too. Or at least "taste" it.
4. Some moms have it way more together than you. You'll just have to deal with that one.
5. If you breastfeed, at some point you will forget your boob is out in public after your baby finishes. On a roadtrip to New York when my son was 9 months old, I nursed him in the car before heading in to a rest stop to pee. I caught a glimpse of myself in the window of another car and realized that my left boob was completely out of my shirt. People will be nicer about your boob hanging out than they will be about breastfeeding your hungry infant.
6. Ask for help. People are totally willing to help.
7. Don't ask for help. People are not good at helping.
8. Make fun of people that judge your parenting choices. Preferably to their face, but behind their back, if you must. More times than not, judgmental people are just insecure with their own choices. This is your gig. Do it with your own flair.9. It is okay to feel like your child/children are the most beautiful children in the world. It is also okay that it isn't true.
10. Some Starbucks locations have drive-thrus. They were invented for moms. If the baristas at Starbucks don't know your order upon hearing your voice in the drive-thru, you're not doing it right.
11. It gets better. Like any other job, you'll get better at parenting as you go along. And whatever weird/obnoxious thing your kid is doing: this too shall pass. One day you'll wake up and they'll be on to the next weird/obnoxious thing (probably right after you figure out how to deal with that last one, but hey). The lows will be close to rock bottom, but the highs will be higher than you imagined.
12. Switch it up. Skip the bedtime routine sometimes and take them out for ice cream instead. We went through a rough patch with our son when he was two years old where it would sometimes take him hours to finally go to sleep. One night, with my husband away on work travel, I made a random decision to ditch the bedtime routine and take our wired toddler out to a local custard place. We laughed, ate a little bit and then he fell asleep on the car ride home. It is one of the moments I am most proud of as a mother. I won all around, and I got to eat ice cream!
13. When all else fails, sing "The Greatest Love of All" at the top of your lungs to your children. They will love it. Or they won't but it is almost impossible not to enjoy each moment when you are channeling your inner Whitney Houston.
Follow these easy steps and you too can dub yourself a Professional Mom. Now that you're a pro, you'll be surprised at how easy it is to laugh at all those amateur mistakes you're still making.