Motherhood 101: Looking Back at the First Year

birth

Happy December, Readers! Too often this month can become a frantic checklist of holiday planning, last minute shopping (or crafting), readying the house for guests, packing for travel, stressful eating and general busyness. Let's be honest, that is not a recipe for a calm and happy parent. This month we asked our writers to share some of their holiday plans, their reflections on the past year and their thoughts and goals for 2013. As 2012 closes, we are so thankful for the wonderful things that have happened at The Motherhood Collective over the past months. We wish you all a very happy and fulfilling end to your year. ~TMC-- When I graduated college in 2009 I had no idea that in just three short years I would be celebrating my first Christmas as a mother. I still have to pinch myself from time to time and make sure this is really my life. This loving and honorable husband is really mine. This beautiful and silly girl is really mine. This crazy adventure is really mine... and only the beginning! Our daughter will celebrate her first birthday just two days after Christmas so it's very fitting that the time of year when we tend to reflect on the past coincides with my 1-year 'anniversary' of motherhood.

So now as I look back at 2012 {what a year!} I make note of the MANY important lessons I learned in my first year with the title of "mommy" and pass them along to fellow rookies. Here are just a few, because I'm sure you have better things to do than spend the whole day reading.

The emotions surrounding having a baby can really screw with your head. Especially because no one mother and no one birthing experience are the same, so our natural instinct to compare ourselves to other mommy friends just adds to the screwiness. So what if I didn't immediately cry when I saw my baby for the first time. It doesn't make me a bad mother. Not at all. I was more in love than I could possibly imagine but my body hadn't quite caught up with the euphoria of my brain. Natural childbirth will have that effect on a gal. Instead my tear ducts were reacting to the trauma the rest of my body had just faced while my brain surpassed it all and went into mommy mode. No tears. Unfathomable love.

Assuming that your husband is automatically on the same page as you is even more ridiculous in the first year of parenthood than it was during the first year of marriage. "They" say that the first months of marriage are the hardest. Quite frankly I don't think "their" marriage lasted long enough to get to the first months of parenthood. It's difficult. You disagree. You fret over little things. You keep things bundled up inside you so long that you find yourself crying over dirty diapers for no reason at all. Ok, so maybe that last one is just me. The point is, marriage doesn't get easier with 'new additions'. I wouldn't say it gets harder either, it just changes. You both change, for the better in my book. And hopefully you get the chance to fall in love with this changed person all over again. I did, and continue to.

There is no such thing as baby proof. Whatever it is, they will always find a way to climb up it, get it open, knock it over, push it under, tear it up, barf on it, step on it, and completely ruin it. I think it's God's way of reminding us to pay better attention and not be so attached to material possessions.

You will look at women with pierced nipples in a whole other light that first time your 8-month old baby locks his/her jaw in the middle of breastfeeding. Holy bruised boob Batman! I never thought I would have to battle the undeniable urge to smack, swat, punch, or toss this evil THING that was causing me such excruciating pain. Thankfully I reminded my cavewoman instincts that beating my child was not an option. And speaking of boobs... it's totally possible to feel a 'let down' if you're still nursing and you hear another baby crying.  For some reason I always thought that was one of those mystical mommy myths people tell you for fun, but it's totally true. It's like magic.

Embrace the fact that other mothers, including complete strangers, will give you parenting advice. Just like the ladies who continuously said, "you just wait" all throughout your pregnancy, some moms will stop at nothing to make sure you know that they could parent your child better than you could. It's annoying. It's unavoidable. It will make you want to smack them across the face and say, "I got this Crazytown, BE GONE!" Please don't smack a perfect stranger. Instead, listen to what they have to say while nodding like you are soaking it all in. It will make them feel like they are making a difference and it will keep you out of a cat fight.  If their 'wisdom' is worth holding onto, appreciate the encounter for what you learned. If it's a load of crap, take it with a big fat grain of salt, and do your best not to laugh as you leave. In fact, this whole post could be seen as "advice" of which you are welcome to do with as you please.

I'm pretty sure I learned more about myself and my life within this last year than I did in all 4 years of college, and I can't wait to see what else this tiny person has to teach me in years to come. What are some of the most memorable lessons you learned during your maiden voyage of mommyhood?