Being a parent is completely different than thinking about being a parent. Pregnancy didn't really prepare me for childbirth or having a newborn. I read, imagined, did prenatal yoga, and took childbirth classes, but coming home with a baby was completely different than everything that had come before.
In the same way, having a baby didn't prepare me to parent a toddler and having one child didn't prepare me for the next. Each new experience is the same and different. With each transition I feel like I've been thrown into the deep end of a pool where I flail around feeling overwhelmed and confused and then eventually I realize/remember that I can swim. Then I go into the next deep end!
Although I continue to be confused by how to handle each new transition, I have learned something useful--to stay in the present moment. Basic, right? And important!
When I'm worried about what's about to happen, imagining scenarios where things go badly wrong, I'm in the future. When I'm beating myself up about all of the things I should have done differently, I'm in the past. Noticing the past or future focus, I can remind myself to stop and be right here in this moment. It works amazingly well. Try it!
As a mom (to 2 teenage sons), wife, and person in the world, I have been on a long imperfect journey. I have made many mistakes, but with mindfulness, emotional reflection, and lots of support I have learned enormously from those mistakes.