So, I’ve been thinking about all the things I’ve learned in my first seven months as someone’s Mom…. I thought I’d jot down a few that came to mind….
– All advice comes from a place of love, but it doesn’t keep it from being as annoying as all your friends told you it would be. At first, I took it all well. Lots of nodding and smiling and thinking “Oh, that’s sweet that this person wants to share their experience with me.” and I’d have to say I usually still try to take it that way, but there are times when the last thing you want or need to hear is someone telling you “Don’t get too attached to his hair, it’s going to fall out anyway you know.” or “What do you mean he’s not sleeping through the night? Haven’t you tried (insert one of any 379 different recommendations I have received regarding his sleep)?”.
– My Mom wore her babies before it was the cool thing to do. (In a carrier she sewed herself, btw. And yes, I have it!) This was totally normal to us, so it took me a while to understand the whole “baby wearing” movement. I kind of thought everyone did that. ;-) So, I guess I learned a couple things there… Happily, wearing Fox has been one of the best things ever. We both love it and it has definitely saved us on some tough days lately (teething SUCKS). I very rarely use a stroller (I’ll be starting to run again soon, so that BOB will be key for that!) – I just bring our Beco with us everywhere. I also made a ring sling recently… and I have my eye on a woven wrap… but that’s a separate post…
– Our dog is way sweeter than I even knew. Turns out when you’re home with her all day you notice some pretty cute things. Like the fact that when she wakes up from a nap, she comes looking for you for a snuggle… and then usually goes back to a sunny spot for another nap and the cycle repeats. It’s slap you in the face adorable.
– You become an expert on your baby. Sounds obvious, right? It took me a little bit for this to sink in though. I had a friend say to me at one point, “You know your baby better than anyone else does. Trust yourself.” It was an a-ha moment in my life. I am going to be the expert on this human being. Me. I am with him 24/7. I know the difference between a cough, a gag and an impending puke bomb. I know if his hiney looks a little pink compared to his last diaper change. I know the look in his eye when he is juuuuust about to get tired. I know when he just needs to be held by his Mom for a few minutes to anchor his world again so he can hop off into Daddy’s arms and play for another hour. I know all of this. I’m an expert. On this baby. Here comes a-ha moment #2. Aaaaaaall those folks doling out advice, like it’s incredibly urgent that I know that a baby can get a fever after he receives a round of vaccinations, were experts, too. On their babies. I suddenly started to understand this need people have to share their knowledge. Everything I’ve learned in the last 7 months… it’s like I’ve lived another lifetime and he isn’t even a year old yet. Now, I imagine raising this child all the way to adulthood… and having all that experience and knowledge in my head. Of course my instinct will be to share it. I think the thing that we often don’t connect is that as amazing as we are as mothers, the feats we accomplish, the wisdom we attain, our expertise is truly best qualified in our own children. Acknowledging this has really helped me accept others’ advice a little more graciously (even on my bad days), but I’m also hoping to remember this fact when it’s my turn to hand out advice…. and maybe hold back a bit since that new mom is becoming an expert in her own right. :-) Sometimes the best advice you can get is the advice you actually ask someone for!
– Avocado stains.
– The most obvious solution is often the answer. For example… I had a very cranky baby on my hands for a while there. I noticed that while he was generally cranky, he was super happy whenever we changed his diaper as he wiggled around nekkid on the changing table. A friend’s suggestion after observing this? Let the kid be naked. Soft (washable) playmat on the floor et voila! Happy baby. Kicked myself for not thinking of it myself 2 weeks earlier… but lesson learned, I aspire to not overthink and instead try lots of glaringly obvious ways to make the bubba happy now… and wouldn’t you know it? They usually work.
– Guilt Exists For Stay at Home Moms, too. This one caught me by surprise. In making the decision to leave my job, the guilt factor weighed in brutally. I took it as a given that I would feel guilty leaving my child with someone else while I went to work. I heard friends discuss this at length (most also stressed to me that it got better over time, encouraging me in case I really did want to go back). What I did not expect was to feel guilty about not going back. We’re adjusting to a new budget and it’s hard to not feel bad knowing there are things we could afford if I was bringing in a paycheck. It’s resulted in me being sensitive and, at times, a bit defensive – especially with SteveKam. I’ve worked hard over the past few months to let this go and I’m feeling a lot better. I don’t want anything getting in the way of me relishing every moment I have with Fox – and I don’t want any walls building up elsewhere. Just another reminder that motherhood brings with it a plethora of unexpected challenges. You just can’t know how you’ll feel until you’re there.
So, that’s a totally random sampling as the list is a long one, growing by the day. Above all, I am continuously amazed at the elasticity of a mother’s heart. You think you know how much you can love your child… yet every day you seem to love them even more than you did the day (or even the minute) before. It’s wild stuff, folks.