Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Baby Feelings

In the early morning I feel warmth and happiness as I watch our little girl slowly wake up, grinning with delight when she fully wakes and sees her parents.
Not an hour later I feel confused when she refuses to even take a bite of her oatmeal, but happily eats my oatmeal (exact same meal, just in a different bowl).
Mid-morning I feel a sense of calm as she happily plays.
By noon I start becoming anxious, wondering if she’ll take a nap soon.
Mid-afternoon I revel in the quietness created by her nice long nap. A half hour later I find myself worrying because she’s napping for so long. And then she wakes up – and I am once more filled with delight seeing this happy baby who is clearly thrilled simply to exist.
In the evening, when I watch her carefully pick-up each pea and place it in her mouth, I’m pleased by how much she’s growing and curious about her level of focus. And then, when I see her carefully pick-up each piece of corn and fling it to the ground (much to the dogs delight), I start to realize that she’s developing preferences (peas > corn > beans).
My parental heart fills with pride and joy as she holds a bell and figures out how to make it ring, watching the smile the fills her entire face.
Then it’s time to give her hugs, hold her tight, and marvel that this child, this little girl who is now sleeping peacefully, came from us, belongs to us, and is here with us.


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A precious memory:
I come home from work and walk in the side door. My little girl turns her head towards me, gets this ridiculously huge grin on her face, and starts crawling to me. I pick her up and she buries her head into me. I can hardly think of a better way to be greeted.
The pure love of a baby is amazing. This memory ranks right up there next to the first time she reached her arms out to me, asking to be picked up (I completely melted).

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My brain is full of things I want to share about becoming a mother. There’s no pattern, no cohesiveness, just a need to share because maybe it will help someone else who is facing the same issues, or who has the same questions.

PSA 1: Becoming a parent means understanding why other parents stop giving advice

Up until the day my daughter was born, I had ideas and thoughts about the way you should be a parent. This wasn’t about the idyllic life I would have with my child – I was aware that being a parent would be hard and challenging – no, this was about the sleep and food and schedules and routines. These are the sentences that being with “I’m not a parent but…” The notion that because you’ve done the reading you know that children should get x amount of feedings/day or sleep for x hours at a time or shouldn’t be comforted by x because then they’ll get used to it. I thought I was respectful, I thought that because I only shared what I had read or what friends of mine who are parents had shared with me I was just giving good advice.

Then I gave birth. And I understood why I notice so few parents giving unsolicited advice.

Because every person is different. Not just every child. Every person. Each family has to make the decisions that work best for them – for the parents, the baby, and any other siblings. They have to establish rhythms that work for them. The parents have to make decisions on how to go from one day to the next. These pre-birth ideas get thrown out the window. You meet your child and start learning what their needs are, and you start looking at this from the baby’s perspective. Someone might tell you that you should be doing x. y, and z. And if you’re like me, you’ll make yourself into a crazy ball of stress trying to figure out how to balance all of this advice when your instincts are screaming to do something completely different. Now I try to avoid giving “advice” because I remember how nerve-wracking it was for me to hear all these “shoulds.”

Having said that, we do benefit a great deal from sharing experiences and hearing how other people parent but it changes from “well I’ve read you should do x” to “We found that Jane dealt with car trips better when we drove during the day instead of at night.” I actively seek out stories from parents who have kids slightly older than my daughter as it helps give me ideas, but at the end of the day I know that I’m just going to be asking myself “what’s right for my child?” And I don’t have a second kid, but when that time comes around, I’m betting that we’ll probably come up with different answers.

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It’s odd, I have the reputation of being one to look on the sunny side – but in reality that’s only when it comes to giving people the benefit of the doubt, when it comes to life, I tend to be more of a pessimist. Along those lines, I wasn’t looking forward to my daughter learning how to crawl. I allowed myself to believe that it would be “all over” once she started to move. As my daughter started to show more and more signs of trying to crawl, I approached it with a feeling of “uh oh.” I didn’t understand why on earth my husband would be encouraging her to move – trying to lure her forward. I was only seeing the negative about her learning to crawl and being on the move – in short, that she’d get in to everything. I’d happily agree with people who said “uh oh, she’s going to be crawling any day now.” That is, until one of my friend’s said that actually one of her favorite things was when her daughter learned to crawl – because then she was able to explore the world around her more fully and seemed to have more fun.

Mindset Change

Once she said that, I basically took it as permission to get excited about this new stage. I was able to join my husband in delighting over our daughter’s growth. Instead of focusing on the new hazards/obstacles (pillows are no obstacle for our little one and the dogs/ water dish is a great attraction), I started watching our daughter learn. It’s amazing to watch a child figure things out. In the course of a few short weeks she has learned out how to pull herself up, how to walk around a footstool (one of her favorite activities), how to get under the kitchen stools, and so much more. The way she interacts with her environment is amazing. The first time she moved from the carpet to the tile floor her world shifted – she dropped her head and cried. This new texture that was cold and hard stopped her in her tracks. And yet, within a week, she’s grown accustom to it and now crawls about on the tile floor, not letting it detract her from the attractions of the kitchen – a forgotten dog dish, stools to pull herself up on, and of course, the friendly legs of her parents.

The pessimist would still be fretting about these changes, but instead I’m letting myself delight in the wonder of a child discovering new things. And I’m cherishing those sweet moments when my little girl, tired out from being on the move, crawls over to me so I can pick her up, where she then snuggles her head into my neck and accepts that all is right with the world because her mom has her. I hope she has the same feeling 30 years from now… the secure knowledge that her mom will always be there for her, as I know my mom is there for me. Sappy and oh so true.

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Three months into this new world of being a parent and the most important thing I’ve learned is to trust yourself.

When I focus on what others think, what the books say, what people suggest (parents & non-parents), what the charts say, etc. I worry, I stress, and my baby is less happy.

When I listen to my instincts I parent in a way that keeps my child happier.

When I listen to my intuition I spend less time crying.

When I listen to my gut feelings my stress levels drop.

And at the end of the day, I understand that what I do as a parent may be entirely different from what someone else does – and that’s okay.

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