It has been seven weeks and one day since my baby boy was born. Seven weeks of me feeling like I actually had this mother thing down and everyone who told me it was hard just didn’t get it like I did. Well today I got knocked off my pedestal.
First of all, I am learning. I’m 6 months new to this parenting thing, and I am quickly learning that no prior level of experience with kids fully prepares you for the actual parenting role. Sure, you might have practice holding a newborn, or magical teething remedies in your back pocket (please tell me if you do!). But it’s not the same as being wholly responsible for growing this baby into a healthy, adjusted adult human. So I have a few “new mom” lessons that have made the difference for me. Hopefully one of these helps equip you, inform you, or set you a little more free. 1. “Some babies are natural sleepers, others… just aren’t.” My pediatrician told me this, and boy is it true! My friend’s baby was on a consistent, through the night, no waking sleep schedule by 2.5 weeks. Another friend of mine fought wakeful nights for a year. Both homes were filled with love and consistency and routine. Me? I breastfeed a 6-month old who is teeny for her age, so I figure nighttime feedings are just par for the course. So I figured out various ways to get as much rest as possible while safely providing her what she needs. I give you permission to do the same (yes, even if it means tossing that book that supposedly works magic).
2. “Definitely before 1, and probably before 2, you aren’t creating a ‘habit’ out of anything”. I heard this from a Motherhood mom. I believe strongly in consistency (still do), but so much so I believed if I made one wrong move, my kid would surely be addicted to a pacifier until college or worse. But let’s face it: the way of the world is learning to cope with change. So I stopped fighting it, stopped guilting myself for it, and started loving my daughter through it (insert your “it”). Added bonus: you’re not furious when teething, sickness, or vacation throws off your perfectly cultivated sleep schedule.
--By now you can probably see that I am the perfectionistic, high-performance, A-type personality. Not convinced? Allow me: I am in two graduate courses, working full time, married, raising a 6 month old, serving at church, and asking myself why I didn’t get to the dishes. Sound familiar?—
3. STOP MULTITASKING 24/7.
(photo credit: Sulekha.com)
This is a tough one! Even now, you’re probably skimming this post while nursing or making a bottle or cleaning. And hey, I get it. We moms take on so much that if we do not multitask, we drown. My job centers on it, my brain thrives on it, and not ¼ of my stuff would be done if I didn’t. Sure, cook dinner with your baby on your hip if you need to. But when that chicken has to simmer, stop. Look at your child. Tune in to her. Talk to him. Make faces. Sound ridiculous. Other moments, turn down the radio and listen to your baby find her voice. Put away Facebook (gasp!) and help him learn his colors. You’ll give yourself a much deserved brain break and gain precious minutes back that our social rat race and personal pressure try to steal. Be an example of connectedness. My experience is that you will never regret those mommy moments you stole back.
In addition to mothering, are you a Student? Employee? Volunteer? I would love to hear what parenting lessons have set you free!
Last month our writers shared some of their holiday traditions and plans for the upcoming season. In November, we continue our conversation about holidays. How do we juggle visitors, travel with small children, eat well amidst all that delicious food and most importantly, take time to just BREATHE? This time of year can very quickly become stressful, so we hope our writers' words this month will give you a few moments to slow down, think about how you're spending your energy and encourage you during this busy, but wonderful time of year. ~TMC As I write this, it's a Saturday night, 9 pm, and I've just finished changing the sheets on our bed, doing a quick-clean of the bathroom and have a load of laundry in the washer. I also still have a pile of ironing next to me, dishes in the kitchen and I can see the dust glowing smugly under the lamplight of my desk. And I know that next Saturday, the dust may be gone and the ironing will be caught up (OK, that's a flat out lie. I'm pretty sure it's been there for a month)...but there will be other things to do, things I feel should have been done already. It's a constant cycle for me - for any mom I think - and a hard one to win in my mind.
I had a mini-silent-panic-attack today, as I realized that in 2 weeks, our son is turning one and the party I've planned, while so much fun, is a lot of work. Once that is over, the holiday season is in full swing, and I'm letting myself worry about how it's going to go. Last year, I had a newborn who had just been diagnosed with some seriously awful reflux, so while we tried to enjoy the holiday season, it's all a bit of a sleepless-nights/crazy hormonal blur. This year, while I still really have no clue what I'm doing, I'm at least comfortable having a baby (most days), but have never had one during the 'normal' holiday season. What will be the same? What will change? Will I miss parts of it from before? Mostly - how in the world am I going to actually take time to enjoy it?
Working between 25 - 30 hours a week outside of the home, one of my biggest struggles as a mom is taking time to stop and enjoy the moment. There is always something that should be done, and the ever-lingering 'mommy guilt' (that I know is not from God) likes to lurk around in the shadows, trying to steal those moments because 'this one more thing' must get done. Often it feels like I'll never not feel like I'm running to catch up.
But tonight, while doing those quotidian tasks, I was thinking: what is it I remember about holidays growing up? What do I love even now, now that I've been 'on my own' for a good number of years? I love: cramming a bunch of family around a table and giving thanks and eating way too much; watching football in our sweats and eating leftover turkey for a week; going to the Christmas tree farm every year the first weekend after Thanksgiving; celebrating Advent by lighting the candles every evening and singing; going to stores and hearing Christmas music everywhere; taking time to wrap each gift carefully and place it 'just so' under the tree; pulling out the 'partridge in a pear tree' towel for the kitchen; watching movies like You've Got Mail and White Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street; traveling and welcoming family; celebrating with friends into the wee hours to welcome the New Year.
You know what I don't remember? I don't remember if my laundry was done, or if everything was perfectly dusted, or if there were dishes piled in the sink. In fact, those dishes represented a house full of family, love and laughter. So, this year, while it may be new and a little bit different than before, those are the things I want to focus on. Things like the sound of my baby boy laughing with his daddy, things that 30 years from now, I'll still remember and cherish...while I do the ironing that most assuredly will still be there.