As I enter into my second year of motherhood, I find that I’m reflecting on who I am now versus who I was in the first six months. I remember being nine months pregnant at a friend’s baby shower sitting next to two couples who had recently entered into parenthood. Both couples told us to get as much sleep as possible before the baby came. I watched my husband cringe in response. His sleep was golden.
Surviving the First Month
One week later, we left the hospital with our new son sleep deprived. In less than 48 hours, I had experienced a 28-hour labor, followed by a c-section, and began the uphill climb of learning how to care for a newborn. I didn’t even know how to change a diaper. The discharge nurse had to show us how to use our car seat. She probably whispered a prayer after she sent us off into the wilds of parenthood.We decided to stop at In-n-Out Burger on the way home, only to leave without our food, so that I could feed the baby. Our arrival home was nothing like I had envisioned it. We were tired. We were cranky. And we were hungry.
Six weeks later, I resurfaced from my hideout of diapers and breastfeeding woes to post on Facebook. I was ready to break my baby silence.
Things I've Learned Since Becoming a New Parent
1. Brushing teeth (or anything to do with hygiene IS optional).
2. Eating peanut butter on toast while breastfeeding and texting is possible.
3. Watching Sex and the City marathons on the E channel makes you weepy.
4. Babies can projectile poop.
5. Lullabies turn into hush little baby or I'm going to cry
More things I've learned since becoming a parent:
1. You're always on borrowed time.
2. Guilt is an aphrodisiac
3. Having pets is not the same as having a kid.
4. A smile from your kid makes you glad you procreated.
5. Breast is best or that's what they keep telling you at the hospital, the doctor's office, and every mommy group you attend (even in yoga).
6. You would vote for the next person running for President IF s/he told you how to get your kid to sleep through the night (every night, even with massive stringy, yellow diarrhea).
7. If your kid doesn't look like you, it doesn't mean it isn't yours.
8. You can drink alcohol while breastfeeding. All you have to do is pump and dump, and it will be like you never drank a little too much.
9. Pamper Swaddlers and pee smell delicious.
10. What have you learned? (applies to fathers as well - or heck people with pets).
The Simple Parent Tradition that Will Change Your Life
I tend to handle life’s challenges with humor. If it doesn’t kill you, then you might as well laugh about it. Still, being a parent is anything but humorous at times. I’m finding that it’s important to reflect on parenthood, and like making a video of your child’s first day of school, parents should record what they’ve learned.
But, how do you reflect on this journey into parenthood?
Some ideas include making it an annual Facebook post with your top 15 as I have. Or create a short video asking yourself the same question every year on your child’s birthday. Perhaps, you make notes in your child’s baby book. If you journal, write a reflection.
As our children grow, we grow. I’m not the same person I was before kids. I now reflect on how much television I watched, how I took for granted I could sleep in, and how not going out on a Friday was a choice. I’m also more concerned about the world, the environment, and want financial success.
In the past, it was okay if I couldn’t afford to take a class or buy a new pair of jeans. Now, I do care if this choice affects my children. I can’t watch the local news anymore, in fear that I’ll see my neighborhood in the newscast. I'm more sensitive now to tragedies, especially connected to children, and become deeply affected by them.
So, in honor of my son’s second birthday, I’ve made a list of what I’ve learned so far with the caveat that it could change tomorrow. But, that’s okay because next year, I’ll make it a tradition to reflect again.
What I’ve learned about parenthood now?
- Your kids are your biggest weakness.
- You will sleep again.
- You can’t protect them from everything.
- Your kid might be the biter, but at least he’s yours.
- Baby number two will be nothing like baby number one.
- You get the baby that’s just right for you.
- The best moments come when you least expect it.
- Kids do make you better and stronger.
- Some days you’ll want to run away (forever).
- Me and my shadow go everywhere together (even to the bathroom).
- When your kid hides his asparagus, you’ll feel secretly proud.
- Cleaning your house is optional.
- The guilt over being a working mom is real.
- One day your toddler remembers everything.
- It is the longest shortest time.
Why will this change your life?
Self-reflection, especially as a parent, allows you to understand yourself in a profound way. Reflection puts the difficulties and triumphs of parenting front and center, allowing you to honestly understand them.
Also, you'll see how you've transformed and this will make you a better parent. If I hadn't posted on Facebook my thoughts on being a new mom, I would've forgotten them and not realized how far I've come in the wilds of parenthood and how much more I have to learn.
How do you reflect on parenthood? What parent or kid tradition do you think is important? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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