parenting: one year in


after one year, i think it's safe to cross off "new mom" from my bio and put "seasoned pro" in its place. i kid. but i think most parents will agree that the first year does merit some sort of title. 

i won't be so bold as to claim that year one is the most difficult {and by difficult i mean it requires a lot of work, not that it's hard to do because no matter how exhausted you are, when it comes to your child, you don't think, you just do what you have to do} but, it is unique from the rest in that, along with everything else, you're also learning about a new person.

since this is my first time down the path of parenthood, i'm not entirely sure of what lies ahead {i am sure there are many bumps though} but for now, our family feels a little more grounded than it did a year ago. we're a little more sure-footed, which is not to say we don't get tripped up evey now and then, but our soles are caloused and bumpy paths don't hurt as much.

now that we've made it through the first section of the trail relatively unscathed, i'd like to share our guide map with you, complete with its topographical ups and downs. i use the word 'guide' because 'map' by itself is too structured. besides, even the most detailed maps are subject to interpretation and circumstance. you can try to follow it around every bend and STILL get lost, having to bushwhack your way back on course. have i gone too far with the hiking analogy?

well, before i lose the trail again and am humbly reminded that i have THE WORST sense of direction, here are some of our stories and survival tips from the past year.

/ babies are people too, you know. children are just like adults {with brains and everything!}, only smaller. i've always tried to keep that in mind when communicating with august - even when his form of communication was limited to crying. now that he's pointing and even saying a few words, i make it a point to lower myself to his eye level and talk to him with simple, clear words. not "talking down", but "talking with"
/ establish a routine. children thrive on consistency, i think they find it comforting in its predictability. there needs to be wiggle room though, otherwise you risk making everyone go crazy. from the beginning, we've had a pretty reliable feeding schedule with august and he's never had to ask for food, so as long as we stick to those meals {+ or - 30 minutes},  i haven't had to deal with a "hangry" baby.
/ prepare for the worst and hope for the best. there's NO WAY to fully prepare, but you can do everything within your control to feel ready for whatever may come. once you've developed a rhythm with your child you can almost try to stay a few steps ahead. with bath time, for example, i'll strip august down to his bare bum and get everything for after the bath pulled out and ready before his toes even hit the water: baby lotion, a fresh diaper, his pjs, and something to divert his attention while i get him dressed {usually a tube of butt paste}. it makes the transition from bath to bed so much easier for all of us.
/ don't cut corners. if you do it right the first time, you won't have to go back and do it again {and again, and again}. i learned this from my sister, who learned it the hard way - she was the first of us twinners to have a baby so she did a lot of the trail-blazing. i used to rush her through their nighttime routines because i was selfish and wanted to hang out, but what would end up happening is that she'd have to keep running back into the baby's room to cradle or hush him back to sleep. if i would've just allowed them to have their 30min charlie-mama time, we probably could've saved 30 extra minutes of all that back-and-forth.
/ there is no 'i' in 'team'. when andy and i got married, we training partners. when august was born, we became a team. even though a lot of year-one tasks fall on the mother, andy has always done everything within his capabilities to help. i was terrified by all those stories of days without showers, mounds of laundry, and absolutely no possibility to get out for a run, but andy made sure to let me have that time to do those things. so when your picking your teammate, choose wisely.
/ ask for help and take it when it's offered. i've talked about my village before, but i don't know how people do it without the support of family and friends. at first, i wanted to do it all {and i tried to}, but first, NO ONE can do it all and secondly, V-I-L-L-A-G-E. hats off to you, single parents.
/ take care of you to take care of baby. i always joke that our dog, duck, gives love because she gets love. this is true of people too. if you are constantly just giving, you'll eventually run out and that's a situation begging for frustration, disappointment anger or worst of all, resentment. don't neglect your needs, emotional, physical, or otherwise. you'll be a happier person, more fun to be around, and you'll be able to bring your best to the table.
/ sleep. this kind of goes along with what i wrote above, but deserves its own bullet point. one of the first pieces of advice you'll get from people when you have your first child is "sleep when baby sleeps". this is SO hard to do when you're trying to keep a clean house, tackle daily tasks, eat, stay ahead of baby, AND fit in "me time", but i'm telling you good rest is essential. one of my new favorite things about weekends are family naps. when august lets on that he's ready, andy and i practically sprint into the bedroom with him to all lie down however many glorious minutes of rest. it's a total game changer.
/ date your spouse. once a child comes in to the picture, pretty much everything in your life takes the back seat. as parents we're charged with the important and sacred task of raising another human being, which should demand the majority of our attention, but don't forget where it all began. it's silly how excited i get for a night alone with andy - we've actually got a date planned for this weekend and i've already picked out the outfit i'm going to wear. #itsagirlthing
/ let go, surrender. you can't put babies in a mold. just when you think you've figured things out, everything will change and you feel like you've been knocked for a loop. when that happens, i try to go with it and adapt. one of the first solid foods august tried and immediately loved was sweet potatoes. he's inhale the tuber in record time. these days, he'll hold a mouthful in his cheeks until for minutes until he finally decide to slowly blehhhh it all out onto his bib. it's annoying and a frustrating waste, but i just take the food away and bring him something else he'll eat {avocados, always!}i don't give up on sweet potatoes though, we'll just try again some other time.
/ be preset & enjoy. the time goes quick, especially that first year when you can almost see the changes daily. with so much going on, it's tempting to multi-task but then you miss out on the little things that make parenthood so great. i've been guilty of pulling out my camera, only to lose out on the "fullness" of a moment. andy helps to keep me in check, but i'm learning to slow down and enjoy every step of the journey.


Teresa said...

...what a wonderfull playback of life

Amy said...

Your observations are so real and beautiful. You sound a lot like my Mom and although I may be biased, I think my Mom did a wonderful job parenting me! She always treated me like a person and not just a child, it allowed us to have a really fruitful and understanding relationship. It also helped me to feel like I always had a friend in my Mom even when the school yard was rough or daily life was difficult. Some people may warn you not to befriend your child, but I think it's very beneficial! I always had somebody to rely on and the only person I ever wanted to impress was my Mom, so I never gave way to some of those peer pressures others face.

I look forward to the day when I become a Mom. I know it will have obstacles, like you said, but it also sounds very rewarding.

I wish you all the best. You sound like you're doing a lovely job!

Love, Amy xx

lucinda said...

you and a certain blue-eyed angel where the sources of inspiration for many of these points. xox

lucinda said...

thank you for your throughtful and flattering comment, amy. it's a privalage to be included among all the amazing women who call themselves "mom". it sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with your own mother and i hope to have something similar with my son one day.

Hannah Smith | fox and willow said...

so many good points here!

the only thing I can think of to add would be that when you have more than two - remember that every child is different. keep an open mind for what each will need / how they will respond and enjoy the uniqueness of their little personalities :) And make sure you sleep when you only have one because it's a lot harder to do with two! haha ;)

lucinda said...

great point! every child IS unique and i bet what works for one might not necessarily work for another. I will definitely try to remember wherever we have our next. thanks for contributing your your insight, hannah.


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