My surrogate big sis from college McCall over at Finding our Way --- Lee, Me and the Girls is doing a series called I am that Mom. It has me thinking. What kind of (albeit new) mom am I? Where have I succeeded in this first year and what would I do differently? There's no failure with new moms, just survival mode.
First, I am that Mama who thinks I have the prettiest baby on the planet. I know, I know. Moving right along.
I am that mom who let the list of expectations about motherhood fly out the window even before Arleigh arrived. Failed expectations (for myself, the hubs, new baby, or even the grandparents) could leave me feeling hurt, and there is no point in having pitty parties with a baby at home. I set my expectations low. Really low. (Thank goodness for a Mama who knows when I need a massive dose of reality.) When you end up in the hospital a month earlier than expected and you come home with a baby (to a nursery your family had to pull together) after an unexpected c-section, you realize real quick there is no point in having expectations. Honey, it's about survival. We've had a pretty crazy first year. Her early arrival, c-section, NICU, breast feeding not working, salmonella, her acid burnt bottom, 6 months of runny noses, 5 months of ear infections leading to ear tubes, low iron...but yet, when I look back on it, it was absolutely nothing compared to what some Mamas face. Absolutely nothing. You have to laugh about it and keep on trucking. I'm just thankful we've (almost) made it through the first year without any major issues. She's a statistic (4 in Alabama) on the CDC website for Newport Salmonella outbreak of 2012. Way crazy, yes?
When your 75 year old neighbor says her child slept through the night when they came home from the hospital, I am that mom who laughs in the face of said elderly neighbor. (Not very nice, I realize.) Don't believe the "my baby slept at so and so" hype. One, itty bitty newborns need to feed. Two, their version of night may be 4 hours, or they may not remember. I am that mom that lets her baby cry at night if I know she is full and
fine. Not a ridiculous amount (although probably ridiculous for some of
those never cry parent types), and not when she was teeny-tiny. It did help put
her on a schedule early.
Although now, I am that mom that wishes my baby was still getting up at night, because I miss all the quiet moments with her on my shoulder. All the moments you wish away you wish back once that period of babyhood is over. And you may even wish for her to occasionally feel just sick enough to want to lay her head on your shoulder. That said....
I am that mom that will intentionally wake up my sleeping baby because as a working Mama, I don't get enough time with her. Even with Arleigh 11 months old, I get all sad thinking about her as a bitty baby 6 or more months ago, when she needed me at night to come to her rescue with that bottle. Or just needed me. That phase ended so quickly. It's a catch-22. You want them to sleep on a schedule, but yet you miss their sweet smelling squishy baby goodness when they don't need you. She's so incredibly independent. Scares me a little. Even when I wake her, she is NOT Miss Cuddly Sweetness. With all 4 of us piled in our king size bed, she's my wild little 11 month old, gigglying loudly, crawling and sliding off of Clarence (the 80 pound lab-brother), bouncing up and down at the end of the bed, climbing the headboard, sticking her fingers up her Daddy's snoring nose, or sticking her fingers in my mouth to inspect all my teeth. (She's always on an adventure!)
I am that mom that wishes I could do better at prioritizing
my life and spending time with family. I have a bad, bad, habit of over
scheduling my life, and John and Arleigh are the ones that are missing
out because of it. They need me. Prime example - I'll be in the grocery
store picking up some kind of fabulousness for an over the top menu
with family or friends. When truthfully, they would be just fine with
pizza. They all need my time. Not just my time as a Mama, but my time as
a wife, daughter, or a friend.
I am that mom that
didn't do a great - or even good - job of making church a top priority
for our family this year. We fell out of the habit again, and with John
working on Saturday, we let Sundays become our family rest/together day, and
didn't really give ourselves a day for church family. Arleigh does great at
church - mainly because it's the same place she goes to school, so I
can't blame this one on her. Bad habit that needs breaking. If you
haven't read Angela Thomas's 52 Things Kids Need from a Mom, it's a must read. I evidently need to read it again. Mainly the part about....scratch that. ALL of it.
I am that mom that gets jealous of the time Arleigh gets to spend with her Daddy, and the time Daddy gets to spend with Arleigh. This one is hard for me. I take Arleigh to school in the morning, and her Daddy gets to pick her up noonish and spends all afternoon with her until I get home. Because I'm a working mama, sometimes I don't get home until bath and bedtime. (Which is why I sometimes wake up my sleeping baby.) John gets so much more time with her, which makes me so sad because I miss out. I'm thrilled they have a great relationship and he's an awesome daddy. But I do wish it was me who got to be all motherly.
I am that mom that tries really hard to stop and capture memories. And not memories for Arleigh. Memories for myself and John. I really thought you had kids so you could revert back to silliness and go to the zoo whenever you want. If it's not, I am so confused. I get the raising your own kids to be outstanding adults, Christian leaders, and citizens part, too. But I'm after the fun factor. :-) We've got a long life after she's grown to have a clean, organized house. My mom is the one who told me this bit of news. One day, you are going
to look back and realize it's about making memories for yourself as much
as it is for them.
I am that mom that will let you borrow my baby to make your own memories. I've tried really hard to be generous to those who want to spend time with Arleigh outside our home during this first year. She's spent the night with other family already, and typically if someone wants to keep or see her we've made it work out. From our own experiences, it's really easy for new parents to shelter your baby - even unintentionally - from family, which can make them feel shut out, unloved and undervalued. (I can speak from experience on this, even when you don't mean to do it, it hurts.) I'm trying really hard to let Arleigh develop her own special relationships with extended family members, and let extended family feel like an important part of her life. This doesn't come naturally; you have to work at it. Especially when you have multiple sides to the family. But I have to remember she's part of everyone who's a part of me, and they need to have time with her, too.
That being said, I am that mom who has to bite my tongue a LOT. Because I do value the relationships in our lives, I try to play the role of diplomat a little too much. Although she is MY baby, and she came from MY womb, some folks feel like she is THEIR baby. (Ok, so I guess I did need to get that off of my chest after all.) This is one of the few things that has left me in tears this first year. It's so hard knowing that you are the new mom and you think know what's right for your child, yet sometimes you feel like you are standing in the middle of a school of fish moving in the opposite direction. I think most moms get a taste of this at some point or another. What do new Mama's who think they are right do? What they know is best and put in ear plugs for the rest. I'm definitely learning that what I may view as all out defiance from some folks against my wishes is simply a gigantic misunderstanding. Just keep the peace....someone has to do it. Moving right along....
I am that mom who is most definitely still learning and growing. It's a challenge and an adventure. But she's loved. So very, very, loved. And she's absolutely adorable. Did I mention that part?
How are you doing on Mommyhood? What did you wish away with your babies that you wanted back?