Becoming a parent is like the first time training for an extreme sport – there is a lot to learn and not much time to learn it all. Ultimately, the many twists and curveballs thrown your way is an enjoyable experience that builds character and motivates all that you do.
In my almost two years of being a mom, I am truly amazed at how much I have learnt about myself, my husband, my daughter and life in general. I’ve so far picked up a few lessons that serve as a reminder of my growth whenever I feel overwhelmed or discouraged.
Here are five things being a parent has taught me:
You are ALWAYS doing better than you think
I am a worrier. I can fixate on the most miniscule thing until I work myself into a panic attack. It is something I am working on but it has become increasingly difficult these days, knowing that I am now responsible for an entire other human being. Don’t get me wrong, I love my little firecracker and I truly enjoy this journey, but worrying about her is just what I do. From wondering if she was getting enough food, to fretting about whether she is developing as well as she should, it has been quite a task.
They say hindsight is always 20/20 and nothing could be more true. Looking back, I now know that there really was no need for me to worry about her. One thing that always drives this lesson home is when we visit the paediatrician, who always comments on how well our baby girl is developing.
So, mommy, daddy, you’re doing great! You may not hear it often, and like me, you may worry about your child and whether you are providing him/her with enough… the answer is a resounding YES. Keep your head up, your baby is doing just fine. If you don’t believe me, ask the paediatrician at your next visit, you’ll see.
Things don’t always go according to plan
I actually shared a bit on this lesson and the funny story that came with it in my last blog. Though that story was funny, learning this lesson was not always fun.
For my daughter’s first birthday I had big plans to stage a cake smash photoshoot and capture what I thought would be the cutest photos of her lifetime… Then came COVID-19, and for my family’s safety we decided to forgo getting a professional photographer and do it ourselves. So I purchased the decorations, rearranged our furniture, ordered the cake and we were on our way to having a blast.
My daughter had other plans however, because sis was not having it. On top of the streams of tears and the overall grumpy mood, the little lady was AFRAID OF THE CAKE and refused to let any part of her body touch it… unless myself or my husband were putting it in her mouth. She also lost it when she saw the balloons we had.
And there it went… my plan for a day of cuteness and merriment, quickly replaced with one of frustration, tears and sheer disappointment (on my part). Though the photos were not what I wanted orginally, I must admit they are still very cute… even with the tears.
I am grateful for the change in plans and the refresher course on being flexible.
Don’t try to do it all… it’s not possible
Yes, you’re his/her mommy; yes s/he is your responsibility, but it is just as important dor you to take care of yourself.
In my first couple months as a mother I experienced severe burnout. With readjusting to a new sleep pattern and trying to be a dutiful wife, it was really rough. I wanted to do it all. Though my husband would take over the baby care duties after coming from work, in hopes that I would get some rest, I always found a reason to stay up. I certainly regretted it a few hours later when the graveyard shift began.
I can recall having to wake up for the night shift and feeling pure resentment for my husband as he slept through our daughter’s fuss. Oh the scenarios I imagined in those moments. If that has taught me anything, it is that as parents we cannot do it all. Don’t be afraid to accept help and support from the persons around you.
Embrace the chaos
Since my daughter started crawling, the house has never been the same. There are literally toys or random objects in EVERY. SINGLE. ROOM. It’s like waking through a minefield. Man vs Tiny Object, if you will.
At first I would get frustrated with her, clean up the mess and tell her its not okay, but I’ve come to realise that there is no point in doing all that. Yes, she should learn to clean up after herself (and we encourage that) but the toys are right back a few minutes later. This is how she learns; I may not understand her method but I have certainly learnt to embrace the chaos.
Trust me on this, you’ll drive yourself crazy if you don’t embrace it.
Be patient with yourself
Finally, I must underscore the importance of this lesson. Just as how your little one is learning and developing each day, so too are you each morning you wake up.
Yes, its a full-time job; yes, you’re responsible for a whole human, but its all learning process and there are many lessons to be learnt along the journey. You won’t know everything, you may even ‘mess up’ by your standards, but there is no point in wallowing in despair.
Always remember, you’re human and that means you’re a constant work in progress; cut yourself some slack and enjoy each moment with your little angel.