The one year anniversary of Peanut’s birth has come and gone, and I’ve been getting this question a lot over the past few weeks: “How was the first year of being a mom?”
The answer? Incredibly hard. And by that I mean equal parts incredible and hard. 😀
It’s the best kind of hard work, I always say. This first year has been, in some ways, like a really tough workout.
On the front end, you secretly fear you can’t do it. In the middle, you want to collapse into a heap and take a nap. But every so often, you hit your stride and catch a second wind: I could do this all day!
A few reflections on 365 days of being Peanut’s Mom:
- About the weather in the midwest, people say “If you don’t like it, wait five minutes.” The same can be said of baby behavior the first year. Everything is temporary. Unfortunately, that applies to the good phases too (like sleeping 6 hours straight early on; sorry new moms, I don’t want to make you sad, but the wheels will fall off around 4 to 6 months, and it’s brutal!). So when you’re at your wit’s end because baby won’t eat or is sleeping like hell, just wait it out. Baby will change and this shall pass.
- Babies don’t hold grudges against their mommies. Tonight at bathtime, Peanut tried to pull a hand towel into the tub. I pulled back, saying “No no, Peanut.” She tugged harder, her little face red with effort. She grew frustrated and started to cry, but I didn’t give in. She let go and started to cry in earnest, but I distracted her: “Hey, Punkin, is this your duck? Quack quack!” She stopped mid-sob and watched the rubber duckie dancing on the side of the tub. Her eyes turned up toward me and she grinned. I marvel at how quickly she lets go of her anger toward me; my transgressions are forgotten instantly. I wish everyone was like that.
- Find child care that you’re comfortable with. It’s a lot easier to make a change to your daycare provider in the first year, before Baby knows what’s up. Find one that sets your mind at ease, and listen to your gut. You may have to sacrifice something — money, flexibility, etc. — but you should trust your provider completely.
- Priorities change. Things that seemed important before won’t matter and it’s totally okay. Pre-Peanut, I played volleyball several times a week, and played in 6 to 8 tournaments a year. I’ve played in one tournament in the past two years, and for the most part, I’m not too upset. I work Monday through Friday, and my weekends are precious hours with my Punkin. Volleyball cannot compete with that. (Though I do worry that I am now so old and slow that nobody wants me on their team, and I’m getting no playing time not by choice, but by default… hmm…)
- My baby’s smile is the most wonderful sight in the world. Full stop.
- Take more pictures, and when they start moving around on their own, take twice as many (because half will be blurry). Someone said to me once that the best camera is the one in your hand. Sounds good to me — I don’t even own a camera! My iPhone works pretty well and I always have it nearby. I edit my photos on my phone with Camera+ ($1.99 in app store), and load the shots using the Shutterfly app. When I get a coupon for 101 free prints, I buy a few months’ worth of pictures, label them and put them into one of these awesome Pioneer photo albums, and Bob’s your uncle.
What will I do differently in the upcoming year? A few thoughts come to mind…
- More date nights. I’ve not been good about this, but I resolve to do better. And after reading The Secrets of Happy Families, we will schedule our Date Nights as group or double dates. It’s actually a lot more fun. This should also be easier since she’s easier to entertain now, and I’m more comfortable with non-family babysitters now that she’s less blobby and more toddly.
- Let her try — and fail — more often. She needs to learn how to fall, so she knows she can survive it. And while I won’t be letting her climb ladders and light fireworks, I will be trying harder to give her freedom to try new things and to fail spectacularly.
- I won’t feel guilty about being home while she’s at daycare. Every day for the past year, if I was home, so was Peanut. But this year, every few months, I will take a vacation day while Peanut is at daycare. I’ll get those little things done that I can’t do when she’s around (like cleaning the deep freeze, reorganizing her closet, or painting). There are some things you just can’t do while caring for a baby, and I have to give myself a break and get them done somehow.
- More hugs. More kisses. If that’s even possible. I’m not sure it is.
The first year has flown by, and at the same time, it’s gone slowly. A year of my life when she went from a teeny helpless blob to a toddling spunky little gal who climbs into the recycle bin and eats my flowers.
An easy year?
The best year yet?
(Happy birthday, Peanut.)