“Being a mother is the most natural thing in the world” this I believe to be true. MotherING on the other hand- not so much.
The honest truth? My first title for this post was “I thought I’d be better at this”. I HATE admitting that! I knew this was going to be a hard gig. But for some reason I figured after they handed me my bundle of joy all these natural instincts would come rushing in. And some have. I don’t want this post to seem like my life is hard. I have a wonderful life. I have an amazing husband, adorable child, and all my needs are provided for. This year is the happiest I have ever been and even on the toughest days I wouldn’t change it for the world. But I will be commenting on the difficult parts of this year as well. I have so appreciated my friends who have not only posted the delightful mommy moments on Facebook, but the tough ones too. I feel like the Devil is the lonely places. When we feel like we are the only ones, he has succeeded. I love Facebook for this reason. The amazing friends I have made all over the country are present in my home when I know I wouldn’t have been good enough to keep up with them otherwise. I celebrate with their successes and sympathize with their defeats. While I’m sure there is still judgment in some cases, I mostly see and feel support. The village of raising a child may be further apart and more digital, but just as necessary.
Most of this post has been written in spurts over the last year. I would encourage all new moms to journal through this time. This has been such a transformative year, I’m glad I have some thoughts written down along the way. I apologize though if it seems scattered! I will add in my thoughts after some of the “in the moment” ones.
This is hard for me to admit, I have always struggled with admitting my faults. I have a distinct memory from childhood of sitting on the bathtub after picking the grout from the corners and vehemently denying that I did it when my mom came in. She was trying not to laugh because it was so very obvious that no one else had been in there to destroy the tub. I was already committed to my lie and my other notorious trait of being stubborn was winning over.
I have always committed to doing my best in life. I like to be the best and didnt realize I was a perfectionist about my actions until my boss repeatedly chastized me for trying too hard to be perfect. (Until recently I was a horse trainer and riding instructor.)
There is nothing harder than staring at a screaming baby in your arms and having no idea what they want. There was a two week period (weeks 4-6) where Eli would be fussy a significant (or what seemed like a significant) portion of the day. I repeatedly fed him, changed him, and rocked him to no avail. I clung to the words in “Happiest Baby on The Block” that said “Sometimes, babies just cry.” After he was six weeks old the fussing died down. Then the nap wars started. I was committed to “Babywise” and the concept of a schedule. He rarely wakes up or cries to eat, so having a schedule to stick to made the most sense. It also helped me start to figure out what he needed depending on where we were in the schedule. I am VERY dependent on routine in my day. I can change it day to day, but I need to know what my day is going to look like when I start or I get nothing done and tend to get frazzled. For the most part he was very content on a schedule (except for only napping for 30 minutes at a time.) When he would hit growth spurts it would all go out the window. This has been a growing experience for me…
At this point in time I’m not sure I’m going to publish this. I started writing this a few months in and will continue to add to it through his first year. Hopefully by then I’ll be brave enough to share with others. I keep hoping and aching for consistency. I feel like I could deal with short naps or short night time sleep if it was the same every day. I could get used to it and learn how to cope. What really rattles me is when it’s different every. single. day. This always makes me wonder, is it me? Am I doing something wrong? Does he need something I’m not figuring out? Sometimes he wakes up at 5:00 am, sometimes at 6:30. Sometimes he naps for 30 minutes, sometimes its an hour and a half. I find it nearly impossible to make plans with people or schedule things. I have very little idea what the next day is going to look like. I rack my brain for what could be causing it. I know how important consistency is for children so I try to keep feedings and nap routines as consistent as I can.
Now 9 months old. The most “on top of things” I’ve felt so far. I guess that is how it will go. I think we forget about the learning curve, just like everything else right? I still have tough days but am getting better at letting the little things go. There seems to be a light at the end of the nap and sleeping tunnel. He has been giving me at least one one hour nap a day which is glorious. The current struggle is managing time. After working a full time job and being involved in various ministries I relished in not having pages of to do lists and places to be every day. Now that we have some semblance of a schedule I have started adding things to my plate. My priority will always be my family so with a new member I am needing to rearrange things. I definitely need my own outlet for “me” time which my husband totally understands and helps facilitate. I’m hoping that can be riding again, but for now it takes a lot more time and coordination than I am able to work out. I’ve recently started playing with photography and am loving it! It’s something that can be done at home or in a few hours on the weekend. I also started selling Arbonne Skincare. That also only takes a few nights away and the rest is done at home. I feel so blessed to have married a man who can handle all of “me” right now. He listens when I feel like breaking down at the end of the day and takes over on weekends when I need a break. I worry about when he gets his “me” time.
This stage has been one of my favorites. I love seeing him become more interactive, have preferences, and explore the world around him. The obsession lately is worrying about his development. I have no reason to worry.
One year in! I really wish I would have journaled more throughout this time. I meant to update this more often. If I’d written this a week ago it would say that we conquered the nap wars! For a week straight he went straight down with no crying and slept for at least an hour twice a day. I thought we had finally reached consistency. But then, just as suddenly as it had started, it stopped. The last three days he has had at least one nap a day that takes him an hour and half to fall asleep. I really don’t think he is ready to drop the morning one because once he does fall asleep he sleeps for an hour. I’m hoping its teething or a development milestone issue.
I’m really hoping to look back on this in a few years and laugh about how silly I was to obsess over something like napping. For some reason I have equated how well he naps to how good of a mom I am. Everything else is going along reasonably well. He eats great, sleeps all night, plays by himself well and is overall a really happy baby. I think that is why I feel like I’m missing something in that one area.
I think the most frustrating thing about motherhood so far has been the learning curve. Just as soon as you learn something or figure out one problem, they grow up and change! I think I keep expecting to get to a point where I feel like I have a handle on it. I remember thinking at the beginning that when we figured out breastfeeding, then life would be good. After that, it was sleeping through the night etc. Thank goodness my expectations leveled off and now I’m able to enjoy each day a little more. I have an amazing group of moms to do life with here and they have been indispensable to me and this time in my life.
On the other hand the most amazing thing about motherhood has been that even though I have been driven up the wall crazy, I still wouldn’t rather be doing anything else. This is the most happy I have ever been and the most fulfilled I have ever been. I miss riding and teaching terribly, but nothing compares to this time I have had with him.
So for those moms that are in the thick of it and think they are doing everything wrong… you’re doing just fine. Push forward and enjoy each day. For:
“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” ~Psalm 118:24