It’s been a wild ride of a year with high highs and low lows. Which I imagine is pretty typical of most moms during the postpartum year. On my podcast I really like to call the whole first year “postpartum” because so much changes during that year, it seems a much more accurate representation.
I really like the One Bad Mother episode where they talk about first birthdays and how it’s not really about the kids at all. Your baby will not remember that birthday party. What they really are is a celebration of surviving that first year of life. So this week that is what we celebrate. We’ve loved and kept a tiny human alive for a whole year. I can’t believe it’s already been a year since I went into labor. It’s hard to remember what life was like before her. That is SO cliché but it is also really, really true.
Here are 10 things I learned throughout the first year of motherhood…I’m sure there are more, but we’ve been sick over here lately, so this is the best I’ve got.
- Once you get comfortable, everything changes. If there’s anything true, it’s this. Every time we’d start to get into a bit of a rhythm, something new would happen. Teeth! Crawling! A new cry! More Teeth! Colds! The list goes on and on. But the rapid changes they undergo in this first year are crazy, amazing and, of course, exhausting. So if I can tell new moms and my future self with future babies anything – it’s “this will pass – whether it’s good or bad, it WILL pass.”
- How to multitask… And I thought I was good at multitasking before! There are so many times this year I had to figure out how to do multiple things at once. When she was really little, many times I would be nursing side lying on the couch while putting on makeup. Babywearing also made lots of this possible.
- …and how to NOT multitask. Clare also forced me to STOP my multitasking madness much of the time. There were times that I had to rest and just nurse. There were whole weeks where she was sick or I was sick and I just had to accept that being a mom was all that I could accomplish that week. This was SUPER hard for my overly productive achievement-based personality. But I also think it was really good for me.
- Being a Mom is Hard – No matter what. I have mom friends who work full time. I have mom friends who completely stay at home. I have mom friends who – like me – straddle the fence. It’s ALL hard. There are trade offs with every situation and we are all doing the best we can for our particular family situation. Period.
- So in that vein…tell a mom that they are doing a good job. One Bad Mother taught me this one. If you are out and you see a mom struggling, help her out! I will never forget the two older women (both separate times) who helped me out at Whole Foods. One unloaded my cart while I was wearing Clare and carrying my diaper bag – saying “I used to call it pack horse syndrome.” Instead of being annoyed that I had a huge cart full of groceries and she only had one thing, she helped me. Another one helped me put bags in my car because foolishly I never let the clerks help me out even though they always ask. My cart was blocking them and I started to apologize, and again instead of getting annoyed, she helped me. If you see a mom struggling with a baby at a restaurant or on a plane, at least smile at her to tell her you get it, or you’ve been there. Even better – say so! I’ve been the mom with the screaming newborn in target, and the one with the baby who threw up all over me in a restaurant. Be kind.
- Mom-friends are a necessity. I’ve met so many wonderful ladies this year, some of whom I consider some of my very best friends. I met them through mom groups, or friend-of-a-friends. (Not to mention the long-time friends who also had babies this last year.) There are so many resources out there. And having the support of someone going through the same crazy times as you are is a sanity saver.
- Speaking of which, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! There are a couple chance meetings that if I hadn’t been brave enough to try or let my anxiety win out, I wouldn’t have made some of the greatest friendships this year. It can be awkward, but it can also be so rewarding. Shout out to Monica – who I was totally nervous to meet up with on our first walk around McKinley Park, but I’m SO glad I got over that. 😉
- Every mom and every baby is different. And you have to OWN the choices that you make for your family. I have learned to never apologize for the choices Chris and I have made for our family. We may have friends who don’t get them, don’t agree with them or do things differently, but we are proud of how we have chosen to parent and we own our choices.
- Plans become loose guidelines. This was a tough one for me. I’m type A. I’m a tad OCD. I hate being late. I like am obsessed with planning. But a baby changes all of that. Dates become tentative, get-togethers shift based on nap schedules. You are late. You sometimes have to cancel a whole week’s worth of piano lessons. Learning to embrace this fluidity is still difficult, but I know when I do, everyone is a lot happier. Myself included.
- Just keep going…and remember to laugh. There are so many times where I thought “How the hell am I going to keep doing this?” “How do people have MORE THAN ONE of these??” “I’m going to lose my mind if I have to keep doing x,y,z” But if you just keep going, everything changes. Everything today may be different tomorrow. Oh yeah – and laugh. Laugh a lot. Make up silly songs. Laugh at 3am when you’ve been up for two hours for the third night in a row. You will get through it either way, but if you laugh the experience might just be a tad bit more pleasant!
Dare I say, I think we may be starting to settle into our “New Normal.” There’s so much we are still figuring out. The balancing act that is life and parenting. (Especially with our lack of predictability in work schedules.) But we are getting there. And I can’t believe my baby is one! (Insert Teary-faced emoji)