Embarking upon motherhood has been a long anticipated experience. In the last three months there has been much joy and there have also been several learning experiences.
I learned and prepared for motherhood the best that I could through several avenues of schooling, teaching, growing up around kids, babysitting, reading, and talking with other moms, and yet there is always so much more to learn.
The newest lessons that I’ve learned so far:
Comparison is a hard trap to stay out of. It is so easy to fall into guilt of not doing enough or shame of not measuring up, even if one has amazing supports, a healthy ego, and a solid preparation of what to expect. Raising a child is such a vulnerable and taxing experience, with such a high amount of responsibility. Each child grows in his own pace and each mom parents in her own way. There are always other people around us who do things differently. People are skilled in many different aspects of raising children. It’s easy to compare our weaknesses to other people’s strengths.
I really need my sleep. Waking up several times in the middle of the night is definitely an act of love for me. It’s not my favorite thing. I don’t care to be sleep deprived and my attitude is usually reflective of this. So, I need to be creative in how I get my sleep (i.e. go to bed earlier, take shifts with my husband to get up in the night, naps).
I’m not as efficient as I used to be. It’s crazy how much stuff doesn’t get done that used to be so easy. I used to be the master of efficiency, and now I’ve learned to expect that I can complete about one additional task a day. Losing my efficiency was a hard adjustment.
Friends and family are amazing. Having supportive people is so beneficial, especially since my efficiency level dropped and there are so many expected and unexpected challenges. My support network was especially helpful in providing meals during the first couple of weeks, diapers, naps, and perspective.
Use community resources. There are so many great community resources available to new moms and families that provide financial assistance, food and formula (i.e. WIC), support groups (i.e. La Leche League), and even previously used baby items (i.e. Craigslist, Facebook parent groups).
Apologize quickly. In the moments when I’m tired, stretched, and frustrated it’s so hard not to respond harshly or critically. I’ve learned to own my mishap as quickly as I can and apologize. It’s so much better to have a partner on my side, helping me navigate through the learning times of parenting.
Appreciate often. I’ve noticed that when I appreciate the big and little things, it extends respect and gratitude to my husband or other supports. Creating a habit of appreciation and gratitude fosters a positive and supportive environment, and it feels great when the appreciation is reciprocated.
Share. Sharing cuddle times with my baby has been great. It’s so fun to see other people liven up as they hold a newborn.
Remember my husband. Sometimes I can get consumed in the demands of parenting, balancing life, and creating a new routine that I stop spending enjoyable time with my husband. When possible, we try to make time for each other for fun things or conversations; when this happens we tend to be more empathetic and understanding in the tougher times.
I’m certain there is more that I’ve learned and more that is yet to be learned. The journey of motherhood has just begun.