I was going to title this “What I Will Do Differently Next Time”. Or something like that. But even that seemed a little too pretentious for what I want to say.
Don’t worry, this one will hopefully be short :) Just a few things on my mind that I have debated whether to share. I will try to condense my thoughts into their simplest forms — little to no back story, disclaimers, or explanations. Just my thoughts from where I stand as a first-time mom of a 7 month old baby.
So, a list!
1. Since having a baby, I am eternally skeptical of anything that any mom, or expert, or anyone, says is “the key” to getting your baby to do whatever.
2. I laugh at some of the judgmental thoughts I had towards other moms about their parenting decisions before becoming a mom.
3. In the same vein… humility. Oh my. So much humility has been needed.
4. I want to be much more focused on enjoying and staying connected with my next baby (whenever that may be) over getting them on a schedule or stressing out about them sleeping through the night and all that fun stuff, especially in the first three months. At least in Arden’s case, things changed with that when he turned four months anyway. Except for sleeping through the night…but I can’t take any credit for that one. Once we get his nights and days in order, that boy loved to sleep at night at an early age and I at least had enough sense in me to know not to wake him up!
5. I’ve had to make lots of decisions in mothering a baby, as all moms have to do. Even when I thought I was just trying to follow a system or following a friend’s advice, I was making conscious decisions to go with something someone else said even when it went against my feelings or instincts. It has been tempting to blame different problems that came up on a book I read or someone else’s advice. We are all just doing our best and sharing what has worked. I have the power to make the decision to sift through the books and the expert advice and the random blogger’s no-fail method and even my closest, most trusted friend’s advice and decide what is going to work for me and my baby.
6. It has been so helpful to have Joey in that said process of sifting through it all and figuring it out. So many times Joey has had just the words I needed to hear about how to handle a situation. He hasn’t read all the sources I have so it has been tempting to think, Well, he doesn’t know how to sleep-train a baby or what-have-you, but he knows Arden almost or just as well as I do. And he has definitely had more of a level head in this whole process…but I’m chalking that up to hormones ;).
7. In the end, what has mattered has been me and Arden being happy and connected. In the hardest times a few months ago I, in some ways, sacrificed some of that joy and connected-ness for the sake of him doing things the way the book says it should be, a friend thinks should happen, or simply how I want him to. Hindsight says that me trying to get him to take longer naps was not worth days upon days upon days upon days of him crying and screaming and me crying and going insane. And guess what. He still ain’t taking longer, “normal” naps regularly (according to what “they” say it should be). But ya know… letting that go has brought me more joy and relief and, in turn, I can tell that he is in general happier and we are more connected.
8. Which brings me to this. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. A happy mom is a happy baby.
9. I’m going to talk to my future self for a second: Molly, always keep the end goal in mind. For example. Labor: end goal is healthy baby in my arms. Newborn stage: end goal is baby gets the food, rest, and love he needs. I don’t think I need to elaborate on these.
10. I’m learning to not take myself so seriously. Talking to my mom was so helpful this past week as I listened to how simply and gracefully she approached motherhood (though as she admitted things were a little chaotic. What else do you expect out of having three small children running around?). One thing that she said that will stick with me for a while is her answer to my question of things she learned in that season of mothering small children, and how she got through it all. She basically said at some point in her answer that she just enjoyed it and did what she had to do. It was just life. And she didn’t have Pinterest or Facebook or blogs to remind her of all the things she wasn’t doing/things she was doing wrong. Yup. There it is…
11. Motherhood is the wildest adventure I have ever been on.
Here’s to knowing nothing of what I’m doing and learning the most valuable lessons along the way :).
And here’s to you, whoever is reading (mostly family). Thank you for being an amazing encouragement to me in this journey and for allowing me to use this space to process all my crazy thoughts and sort through my crazy, ever-changing emotions (yeah, that… even I was not prepared for that…). I will be glad later on that I took the time to write these posts.