Featured Image

7 Lessons from My 1st Year of Motherhood

IMG_1346One year ago today at 1:22 a.m., my son Jack came into the world. (Still a favorite time of day for him, unfortunately.)

When I look back at the last year of his life I relive a lot of joy.

The warmth that filled my chest when he smiled for the first time.

Singing the foot song that I made up over and over and over again just to hear him laugh one more time.

The excitement of seeing him army crawl his way across the floor to grab a piece of paper that he had hoped to eat. (Still likes to eat paper…)

The first time we played “I’m gonna get you,” chasing him as he peeled off on his hands and knees, and boy does he go fast!

How much I laughed at the confused and funny face he made when he tried pureed carrots for the first time.

Seeing him get a little braver each time he pulls himself up to standing, contemplating what it might be like to let go….

Watching his personality blossom a little more each day and loving him immensely.

His 1st birthday will be celebrated. There is a lot of life in my little boy. I am so incredibly thankful for him, and I want to show it. I’d be lying if I said that part of me didn’t want to throw him the Pinterest party of my dreams, but in reality, we’re hosting a small family get together with cake and presents. Get ready to see pictures from multiple angles of Jack’s cake face, because they’re coming. It will be a fun party. But, can I tell you a secret?

I kind of want the party to be for me.

You guys….I kept a tiny human alive for a WHOLE YEAR and didn’t completely lose it! And, can I be honest? I’m really super freakin’ proud of myself.

Having Jack at the age of 34, I was the last of my friends to get pregnant. I have spent a lot of time around kids of various ages. In fact, my younger siblings are 8 and 11 years younger than me, so I’ve been around small children for most of my life. I took the classes. I read the books. I got advice (whether I asked for it or not). I Googled the crap out of what to expect.

But, honestly, there was nothing that could have prepared me for what was to come. As much as I wanted to empathize with my friends and family who were parents, I just couldn’t until I became a parent myself.

While I’ve experienced a lot of joy as a parent, I’ve also experienced a lot of pain, heartache and frustration. Being a parent is the hardest thing that I’ve ever done, and I’m just getting started. I have never learned so much about myself as I have this past year.

Here are 7 things that I’ve learned during my first year of motherhood:

1. I am more resilient than I ever realized.

The first few months of motherhood were not easy for me. Going from “me” to “we” was a HUGE adjustment. I’d been living for myself, doing everything that I wanted to do when I wanted to do it,IMG_1402 for 34 years. That’s a hard thing to let go of. I cried everyday at least once a day (probably more) for at least an entire month. I loved my newborn babe fiercely, but I really missed, well…me.

I remember sitting on my couch one night, looking out the the window at the trees blowing in the wind and rain thinking to myself, “When will I ever be able to do anything ever again?” But, somehow, I have.

Somehow, even in the midst of changing diapers, endless walks up and down the hallway with a crying baby, feedings, nap time fake outs, financial hardship, job changes, nurturing a budding online business and sleep deprivation, I’ve come out on the other side. Well, sort of, anyway.

The other side isn’t returning to my old life. That’s in the past. Life will never be the same again, and that’s mostly a good thing! The other side is adjusting to my new normal, feeling like my old (new) self again and finding ways to take the time that I need to nurture my own needs as well as my family’s.

2. Adjust expectations.

I’ve spent most of my life battling perfectionism. After my baby arrived, it didn’t take long to see that this way of life wasn’t going to work anymore. (It never did, really.)

I thrive on productivity. I am not one to sit still for long, even though at times it sounds very nice. I’m always working on something, always have a to-do list going, am always looking ahead to the next project….let me just say this: Jack has little regard for my daily plans. 🙂

I found myself taking on too much at once, then feeling guilty when I couldn’t get everything that I had planned done. I found myself apologizing for things that were beyond my control. Sometimes, baby trumps whatever else is going on….and that’s okay!

Life as a mother is a constant ebb and flow of taking time for yourself, doing things that you need to do and nurturing your relationship with your spouse, children and friends, just to name a few. The time and attention that’s devoted to all of those things will vary from day to day. My days will not always look the same.

So, instead of piling everything into one big, insurmountable to-do list, I adjust based on what I think is realistic versus what can be saved for tomorrow. And, even then, staying flexible about what each day brings.

3. When it comes to parenting advice, take what you want and leave the rest.

Unsolicited parenting advice starts even before your baby exits the womb. I’ve experienced all kinds of “words of wisdom” ever since my birth announcement. What I should eat. What I shouldn’t eat. How long I should breastfeed for. How to put my baby to sleep. How to start disciplining.

And then there’s the parenting advice that is veiled as innocent questions, “What if you just lay him down when he’s drowsy and close the door?” “What would happen if you just {fill in the blank}?” Yeah. I’m on to you, too.

I honestly believe that parenting advice comes from a well meaning place, I really do. And, sometimes we need it and ask for it. I’d be willing to bet that parents are the most frequent users of the Google search engine. But, fellow parents (and even sometimes people without children) can’t seem to resist sharing what they would do or have done with their own children, whether we asked or not.

I’m inclined to believe that one of the reasons this happens is because being a parent is really, really hard and when we have success…..we want to tell someone about it! And if sharing our successes might help someone else who is travelling down this bumpy road of parenthood, then is that really such a bad thing?*

So, instead of secretly resenting people when they give me unsolicited parenting advice, I turn a kind ear and listen. If you were able to lay your baby down when she was drowsy and she fell asleep on her own, high five to you! That doesn’t work for me. But, I’ll listen and politely and secretly let it go in one ear and out the other.

(*Of course, there are exceptions. If someone is crossing your boundaries in any way, an intervention of some sort is definitely needed.)

4. Accept and ask for help.

“Let me know if you need anything!”

I heard this a lot after Jack was first born, and for some reason, it took bending until I broke to actually take people up on that offer.

It is really hard for me to ask for help. I take a lot of pride in being independent, and honestly, not being able to “do it all” made me feel guilty. Like I wasn’t a natural at motherhood and a failure at not achieving Supermom status. Or even worse, if I admitted that I was having a hard time that it meant that I didn’t love my child enough (is that not ridiculous?).

When my husband went back to work full-time, I knew that I needed to be more proactive about asking for help. No one was going to ride their white horse into my world and save me. I mean, after all, how was anybody going to know that I needed help if I didn’t express my need for it?

Asking for help doesn’t make me weak, it actually reveals strength. It takes courage to show vulnerability. It creates opportunities for others to shine and show their strengths as well. Asking for and accepting help empowers everyone involved, and when it comes to raising children, asking for and accepting help is a necessity. I no longer hide out. I reach out.   

5. Get out of the house.

img_0382This simple task has been a big deal for me. It seemed so impossible to go anywhere when Jack was first born. I often found myself saying, “It’s just easier if I stay home.” But, what I’ve actually found is that when Jack is crying and I’m pulling my hair out, getting outside does WONDERS.

Outside time is not just good for older children and adults. It’s good for baby, too. Connecting with nature by feeling the sun on my back, the wind in my face, hearing birds chirping and smelling fresh grass always makes me feel better….and it makes Jack feel better, too.

If he’s fussy, he’ll often calm down or even fall asleep when I take him out on a walk. Instead of telling myself, “It’s just easier if I stay home,” more often I’m telling myself, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” Now instead of making outside time a last resort, it’s a priority.

6. Make time and space for your spouse.

img_1886I consider myself one of the lucky ones. My husband is really freaking awesome. He does a lot for me and our son, unasked. I feel super blessed with his love and support. But, with the everyday busyness of our family life, it can be really easy for me to take him for granted.

Besides the obvious date night every so often, there are other things that I do everyday to make sure that our relationship is destined to continue to thrive:

  • I say “thank you.” A lot.
  • I make sure to send him off with a hug and kiss everyday when he leaves for work.
  • I put my phone down and look him in the eye when we’re talking.
  • I acknowledge the little things that he does toward the upkeep of our household.
  • I make sure that I am as attentive to his needs as he is to mine.
  • I communicate needs, wants and expectations often.
  • When he wants to talk about his own needs, wants and expectations, I don’t interrupt with thoughts on my own.
  • I say, “I love you,” often, and mean it.

Kids take a serious toll on relationships. But, taking the time to prioritize my relationship with my husband in the midst of parenthood’s joys and challenges has resulted in a deeper bond between us. I’m still learning this.

7. Self care is important. Really freaking important.

I recently saw a blog post proclaiming that “me” time as a mother is BS. I respectfully disagree. Me time is an absolute necessity.

Babies are really demanding. They require a lot of our time and attention. Things that used to take an half hour to do now take 2-3. Between feedings, diaper changes, meltdowns, singing silly songs and playing, the days go by in a flash, and by the end of the night when your head hits your pillow, you feel absolutely depleted.image1

The problem for me is that without taking breaks for self care, this hectic thing we call parenting leaves me feeling empty and broken. Not to say that my son doesn’t bring me absolute bliss or that I don’t enjoy being a mother, but I’m not just a mother.

Before I was a mother or a wife, I was just woman. I was me. And I’m still in here! In order to be the greatest parent and wife I can be, I need to take care of myself. I need naps. I need pedicures. I need a night out with friends. I need to just be alone.”Me” time as a mom is only BS if I don’t make it a priority, and I’ve decided that I’m worth the time it takes.

While my day-to-day life hasn’t always reflected it, this last year has gone by really fast. I’ve learned so much about myself already, but I know there will be so much more. I am so grateful for my sweet boy and everything that he has brought to our lives. I can’t wait to see what else he will teach me.

I love you, sweet boy. Happy 1st Birthday. 

Jill

P.S. If you’re not already a part of our tribe, be sure to get on our newsletter list. This is where we send out all of our best info on workouts, recipes, mindset and more. If you’re not already on the list, you can add yourself here.

Comments

comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>