As Marley’s first birthday approaches this Sunday, Nick and I have been watching videos of him that we have taken over the past year. A YEAR!!!!! OMG, right? Some of the more special ones involve me having a “conversation” with Marley at 7 weeks old and 5 minute long videos of him sleeping. I began thinking about how much has changed about our family in 12 months. Obviously, Marley has changed and grown exponentially in such wonderful ways. Something I think of often but do not always articulate is how much my mindset as a mom has morphed as the year went by. Here, I will share with you some of those thoughts.
- The annoying cliches are so very true that you begin repeating them to everyone yourself. “They grow so fast.” “Having a baby will change your life.” “Being a mom is the hardest job in the world.” “When you become parents, your priorities will change”… and so forth. You get the idea. When I was pregnant, this is about all I heard from my parent friends, or so it seemed. I remember thinking – what on earth!? – do they think I’m slow? Of course having this baby will change my life, DUH, etc. What I learned is that, when you become a parent, your life turns so completely upside down. Indeed, many describe it as re-learning how to live your life all over again. It IS so much harder (and so much more wonderful) than you had imagined, that you cannot help but repeat the old sayings over and over again to anyone who will listen. In fact, it became a source of comfort for me eventually. It helped me to not feel so alone and frustrated – knowing that so many others had been through the same circus and lived to tell the tale.
- There is a lot of garbage/nonsense/crap on the internet that is bound to make you go insane. When I started doing research on mommy blogging, I happened upon many blogs and websites that displayed what can only be described as cyber-bullying. I respect mommy blogs. I do not respect preaching, bullying, and belittling. I saw all too many forums where one way of parenting was presented as the only way and moms were made to feel inferior because they did not, for example, make their own baby wipes or cloth diaper their babies. Don’t even get me started on these witches who make people feel like they are “cop outs” because they switched to formula or “selfish” because they returned to the workforce. I am fortunate enough to have found a way to return to work to help support my family AND I am outrageously lucky that I have an employer that accommodates pumping during the day. I consider myself extremely blessed to live in these first world conditions. Thankful does not begin to describe how I feel when I think about what moms are going through right now in so many parts of our world. Parenting is hard enough, people. How dare you!? Also, get a life. It is seriously a mystery to me why anyone would spend time belittling a mom she’s never met over the internet. This has gotten so bad that there is even a “Mom Pledge” Blog, dedicated to creating a more respectful online mom community. I cannot convey to you the despair I felt when reading some online accounts of Stay-at-Home-Moms and how terribly selfish they thought it would be to return to work. What have I learned? STAY AWAY, STAY FAR AWAY from any website or blog that makes you feel inferior as a mother. All of us are just doing our best and these people are just ridiculous.
- You block stuff out, thank GOD. Wow, were those first few months hard. I remember thinking that the first week of Marley’s life was the hardest of my life thus far, and Nick quite agreed. I remember this as if it were a story someone told me once – I no longer “feel the pain” so to speak. For example, I remember that I had to deal with an oversupply of breastmilk issue for the first 6 weeks. I remember what I did to troubleshoot it and how supportive my husband and certain friends/family were, etc. But I cannot recall the abundant frustration which I know I had. I’ve blocked it out. If that seems too harsh, perhaps it is more accurate to say that I’ve “moved on” to the point that I no longer have to cope with the intensity of those emotions. Thank goodness this is so, or we all would be in big trouble, and we’d all have exactly one child.
- Sleep is really, really important. Without boring you to death with all the details, I would like to convey how much better our parenting experience became when we all started sleeping properly. I realize that sleep strategies are a VERY sensitive subject and so I will just say this: Find something that works so that parents and baby alike are getting enough sleep, or close to it. Suffering through sleep deprivation helps no one. And for the record and for curious parties, we worship Dr. Weissbluth and don’t be cyber-bullying me about it. 🙂
- The love you feel for your child is indescribable and very powerful. As such, I will not try to provide fancy descriptions. 😉 My love for Marley is the most overwhelming and wonderful emotion I have ever known and I am changed forever because of it. When my girlfriends who have not become mothers ask me – how do you do it? How did you do all those night feedings when you were clearly exhausted? How could you stand all those poopy diapers exploding all over the place? Do you ever wish you had your old life again? My reply is this: Your love for your baby is on your side. This is so powerful that it enables you to do amazing and seemingly miraculous things you did not know you were capable of. You can trust in this completely. Even when you feel you are failing or just going nuts (read: Opening a can of Modelo Especial at 9:30 on a Sunday morning…ahem…don’t judge), you will get through it and so will your baby because that love will somehow get you through in one piece. Hm, maybe that was a fancy description after all, but thanks for listening.
Happy Birthday to our Marley!