Parenting: Year 1

It’s hard for me to comprehend how this year is already coming to a close. It feels like just yesterday I was bouncing on a ball, walking and squatting in hopes that she would just freaking fall out of me already. I blinked and my sweet little newborn baby is now a bright, beautiful growing girl that’s getting into everything and is about to turn one year old. Twelve months ago as I was only just preparing to embark on this journey, I felt so many different emotions, had so many questions and so much fear of the uknown. I wish I could have told myself to calm the hell down, everything is going to be just fine.

It’s difficult to imagine what life will be like once you’re handed that tiny human for the very first time. The thing is, you can’t really imagine it. There is no one way to feel and there are no words to describe it. Labor and delivery is wild. The most un-natural natural thing I’ve ever been through. But being handed that baby was the most breath taking moment of my life. Love came over my body like a tidal wave and everything I had just endured, all the pain and all the fear, just went away. At that moment, I became her mama and it was the most gratifying job I’ve ever been given.

That’s not to say there weren’t challenging moments. There was a lot of crying, both the baby and myself. There was a lot of feeling lost and trying to find our way. There was a lot of arguments, because being a new parent and a loving spouse are two roles hard to balance. There were a lot of blow-out diapers that always seemed to happen at the worst times. But there was also a lot of laughs. A lot of snuggles and joy and moments I wish didn’t pass so quickly.

Since June 24th of last year, a lot has changed. Emma is a rough and tough little girl that loves being outside and going in her pool. She loves to eat…all the time (strawberries, bananas, avocado, macaroni and cheese, and cheesy eggs are a few of her favorites.) She loves our dog, Doug, and giving him kisses and patting him on the back. Wherever Emma goes, Doug is never far behind. The girl won’t nap, but she’ll sleep through the night (hallelujah!) She’ll say things like mama and dada and “ut-oooohhh” and bananananana. She crawls faster than I can blink, but is terrified to take steps. She loves going really high in her swing and cruising down the slide. She makes me so proud to be her mama every single day.

Emma, I hope that you never lose that big bright smile and belly laugh. That you always know your worth and never settle. I hope that you love yourself and are forever unapologetically you. But I hope you love others too. I hope you have the ability to be empathetic, to treat others with the same kindness and respect that you deserve too. Follow your heart and dream big. Travel the world and find the beauty in it. You will make mistakes and that’s okay; Learn from them. Come to me always, no matter how hard it may be. I will always be on your team.

A few things I’ve learned this past year…

  1. Everyone and their mother is going to give you advice. Advice on the best way to feed your baby, burp your baby, wipe your baby, dress your baby, teach your baby, the list goes on. Take it with a grain a salt. Before having Emma and right after, I would get so frustrated and overwhelmed with everyone’s advice and opinions. I now understand that they (most, anyway) are truly just trying to help. They are trying to lessen the burden and to provide comfort. They want you to know that you are not alone. Accept their advise and move on with your day.

    However, if you are someone at the other end of this situation…I urge you to be kind. The next time you’re at the grocery store and you see a mom with a kid in PJ’s in the shopping cart and another one throwing a temper tantrum on the floor, I hope that you can find it inside of you to walk by her and let her know that she’s doing a pretty damn amazing job.
  2. There is no right or wrong way to be a parent (besides the obvious.) At the end of the day, only you know what is best for your family. Maybe you instantly fell in love with breastfeeding, but maybe the thought of it overwhelmed you from day one. Perhaps you decide to make all your baby’s food from scratch, but maybe you just don’t have the time. Maybe you’ve decided you’re only going to use all natural and organic baby products, but perhaps that’s just not feasible for your family. Some may refuse to have the TV on and some may rely on an episode of Sesame Street just so they can pee in peace. Maybe you decided Pampers work better than Huggies or maybe you use cloth diapers. Heck, maybe you even use a butt spatula to apply diaper cream, and that’s okay! There is no right or wrong way to be a mom or dad. Feed and change your baby however the hell you please, but just make sure you love and nurture the crap out of that little blessing.

    3. Stop with the comparison. “Well Karen’s baby is 10 months old and walking, but my baby only scoots…is there something wrong with my baby? Is there something wrong with what I’m doing?” or “Karen doesn’t even look like she had a baby, I wonder what diet she’s on…” Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we scroll through Instagram and Pinterest and compare ourselves to a perfectly staged snapshot of someones life? Why do we constantly forget that there is a life behind these snapshots and that life is not always as perfect as it may seem. We need to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect in all our different roles. Every single baby, mother, father, step parent, etc. is different, as is their situation. Be kind to yourself and your child. Be patient.

    4. We’re all just winging it. If you think that there is a book that you can read or a class that you can take to mold you into a perfect parent you are sadly mistaken. There is no big secret. I remember priding myself in my years of experience as a babysitter and daycare provider. I remember telling myself, whenever I felt doubted, “I’ve taken care of 100’s of babies – I got this.” L-O-f*cking-L. Yes, everything was okay and I did get the hang of it eventually, but being a parent is not easy. It is not something you can train for. Nothing can prepare you for the love your heart is about to feel and the immense amount of fear and anxiety that goes along with that. Nothing can prepare you for the sleepless nights and the loneliness you may feel during that 2 am feeding. There’s nothing that compares to being out to breakfast with your husband and baby and looking over only to see poop pouring out of your baby’s diaper like a volcano all over the high chair, dripping onto the floor. Not one single thing prepares you for that. All of us parents are walking/running through the day, just praying we can get through it without a trip to the E.R.

    5. Everything is going to be okay. We all get overwhelmed. We all get tired. We all have questions that don’t have answers. We all fear the unknown. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve found myself crying on the couch because of a day that was so long and trying that I didn’t think it would ever end. I also can’t count how many times I’ve found myself crying happy tears, full of pure joy and gratefulness. There will be hard times, but there will be a million more amazing ones. Have faith in every day. I don’t mean faith in God, but faith in yourself. Faith in your ability to do the best you can.