I remember a friend of mine telling me that, while she really wanted to get pregnant and enjoyed that part, she hadn’t really thought about what you do with the baby when it gets here. Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all manual.
In fact, there’s a plethora of books designed to make you feel like a failure if we’re honest – not breastfeeding? Bad Mummy. Kid won’t sleep through the night at 12 weeks? Bad Mummy.
Child doesn’t like tummy time? Bad Mummy.
Baby having tantrums at 10 months? Bad Mummy. Sigh!
What I have learnt is that each and every child is different. While my child might have been sleeping through at eight weeks old, she might not be walking until she’s 18 months old.
The main thing I have learnt is to chill out and stop comparing my kid to the one reading Shakespeare next to it. The important thing is love. But I think it’s worth sharing the other tidbits I learnt along the way.
I promised I would never talk about my daughter’s faecal matter, I did. That said, I think I only promised not to put it on Facebook, so surely this doesn’t count! Everybody remembers that first time their child “projectile poos” – it is what it sounds like, a spray of poo that travels from change table to wall (and on any person that gets in its way). Once you get past the grossness, it’s rather impressive!
My Mum was amazing.
Until you’re a parent I don’t think you can truly appreciate just how fabulous your own parents were. I have a new appreciation for my mother. I now realise that I would have vomited on her, bit her, led her to exhaustion and tested her patience every day. And that was before my ratty teenage years! So, thanks Mum!
Sleep is overrated.
Nahhh… just kidding. We all need our sleep. But being a parent makes you appreciate how little you need to function. Before having the little lady I needed eight hours to even contemplate getting out of bed in the morning – 12 hours on weekends. Now I know that I can function on four hours of sleep and an excellent latte. But I’ll take what I can get.
Breastfeeding is hard.
I spout these three words out all the time. I think it’s worth repeating. I was absolutely gobsmacked at how hard breastfeeding was. Nobody had warned me, so I make it my mission to warn everyone. I did, however, manage to do it for a year, and I’m kind of proud of that. But I came close to giving up over and over and over again.
Your partner is your rock.
If you’re fortunate enough to be in a loving relationship when you conceive, prepare yourself. First-time parenting is a test. More than when you take your first holiday together. More than when you first move in together. Nothing will test your relationship like sleep deprivation, total disorder, the smell of unwashed bodies and an inability to make yourself something to eat. Imagine being hangry, tired and unable to construct a coherent sentence. If you get through it, your relationship will be stronger, and you’ll have a new appreciation for just how fabulous your relationship as a family is.
It’s okay to cry.
There were moments when it all felt too hard. When little miss was going through a developmental leap and not sleeping, when I desperately wanted to go to work in place of my husband so he could stay at home and look after miss grumpy pants. One thing I learnt (after a few days of this) is that it’s OK to cry. Sometimes it helps. It’s OK to ask for help (took me a while to learn how to do this). It’s OK to feel like everything is just that little bit too hard, because sometimes it is. But the other thing worth remembering is, it’s never that bad – I know people say “it’s just a phase” is a bit of a parenting cliché, but there’s a reason for that.
Who my true friends are.
It has surprised me who has and hasn’t been there for my little family in this first year. As any parent can attest to, support is invaluable in this first year. What I have found is some people go out of their way to help you, others forget what it’s like, and some are happy to listen attentively while you tell them how it feels to be a first-time parent. Now at the tail end of the first year, I can look back and really appreciate who my really good friends are.
Love. So much love.
I can’t talk about the first year without speaking about the love. Nothing, nothing prepared me for how much love I would feel for my daughter. It is indescribable. I can sit down all day and just watch her beautiful face trying to work things out. I have never before felt so willing to put myself in danger to save another. I’ve never found another person as completely perfect and beautiful as I do her. I have never found anyone as funny as I do her. Falling in love with baby has been the absolute best thing that has ever happened in my life.
What did you learn during your first year as a parent?
You can read more from Carly at MusingMummaBlog.com