Sometimes it’s hard to believe that my life as a mother actually began on Mother’s Day last year. Judah’s birthday will always be on a fixed date of course, but knowing that I became a mother on Mother’s Day makes this Mother’s Day all the more special for me, and truly – every Mother’s Day from here on out for the rest of my life.
I’ve learned a lot in just a year of motherhood – about my baby, about parenting, about myself, about my husband – and I know I still have so much more to learn with every new day.
What I’ve Learned About Motherhood… So Far!
Having a baby doesn’t mean sacrificing your old way of life: it’s a new way of living and loving.
Larry and I have always had a fairly active social life: we hang out with friends, we like to go out to eat, we’re fans of the random weekend day trip by car. We were worried before Judah came that we’d have to give all that up. After a year of being a parent, that couldn’t be further from the truth. We’ve learned how to adapt with a little one in tow. Parenting isn’t about saying goodbye to all your adventures: it’s about welcome all kinds of new adventures into your life with your child.
Parenting is plenty of hard work – and totally worth it.
It’s more than just the wakeful nights or the reflux or the diaper blowouts: in some ways, having an infant is a long form of hazing into the Fraternity of New Parenthood. There’s no way I couldn’t do it all without my incredible husband. For us, raising Judah is a true team effort. And for every hard day, there’s the amazing times when we get to bear witness to all of Judah’s incredible milestones and magical moments. It’s hard work, yes; but that’s what we signed up for and we take on the role of Mom and Dad with pride, honor and a dedication to always do our best as a team, together.
The dishes can wait.
I’ve struggled with the notion of having a baby and having a clean house at the same time. I feel like, until Judah’s in preschool, the two concepts are mutually exclusive! Do we live in a pig stye? Of course not. Have there been dishing in my sink all weekend? Probably. For me, I’ve learned to savor the time I have with Judah simply because of the fact that he won’t be a baby forever. I’d rather spend the time giggling and playing with my son that washing the dishes! And besides, it all goes back to the team effort that my husband and I share: it’s not just a team effort parenting, but taking care of the house.
You know what’s best for your baby and your family.
I’ll be honest: when Judah had severe reflux and our doctor recommended supplementing with formula, I felt like a total failure. Our breastfeeding journey wasn’t the easier, but it was what was best for our family and our baby. Every baby and every family is different. What works for one new mom doesn’t work for another – and that’s perfectly okay. It’s easy to get caught up in comparing baby milestones and parenting styles but the truth is: you know what’s best for your baby and so long as you’re doing the best you can, then it doesn’t matter at all how you stack up to anyone else.
“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.”
I love this quote by Peggy O’Mara. I had discovered it before Judah was born and it stays with me. I think about it every day I spend with Judah. Every opportunity I talk or sing to Judah is a chance for him to bond with me, to learn about his world, to learn how to speak for himself. What a gift I have to offer! So for me, whenever I get frustrated, I always try to think about how I can use words that empower, teach and express joy. Granted, when he makes a beeline for a wall outlet, I adjust my tone accordingly. But my words always come from a place of love.
Watching my husband be a dad is the coolest thing ever.
Six years ago, I married my best friend and soul mate. I had one very specific view of Larry as husband. Now that Judah’s here, I see him in a whole new role: father. It’s beautiful, humbling and inspiring. I’ve learned and seen all sorts of new things about Larry that could never have been revealed in our time together as just boyfriend and girlfriend and eventually, husband and wife. It is a distinct, humbled privilege.
Find your tribe.
As important as it is to have the support from my husband, it’s helpful to have new moms to connect with, too. There’s a uniqueness to parenting in those early months that other new moms can relate to. While we know what’s best for baby and our family, it’s really helpful to hear from other moms what’s working and not working for them. And it’s just helpful to be able to talk to other moms who just get it. My weekly mom and baby playgroups and Visiting Mom visits, as well as a few new mom groups I belong to on Facebook are so valuable to me. I feel like I can be a better mom to Judah when I have the wisdom of fellow moms to tap into from time to time.
This is hardly an exhaustive list of everything I’ve learned about motherhood, but these are the lessons that have stuck out the most in my first year of a motherhood. New moms: what have YOU learned about yourself as a mother in your baby’s first year? Share your stories in the comments!