Livie’s first birthday is just around the corner. I can’t believe it will soon be one year that this precious gift has been in my and my husband’s life. It has me reflecting on just how much my life has changed since Livie came into it and everything that motherhood has taught me thus far. I felt the need to share my lessons in hopes of providing insight for other new-moms or moms-to-be.
So, here is what motherhood has taught me over the past year:
Resilience. I can do things now that I was not able to do before. For example, I can be functional on very little sleep. Before Livie, I was a sleeper. I needed a minimum of 8 hours per night to function adequately. No joke. But since Livie, I can function on 5 hours of sleep without a problem when I need to. Also, my ability to multitask has improved exponentially. Although I despise multitasking, it is a required qualification for the position of mom. Doing three things (or more) at once is the norm these days. All in all, motherhood has a way of pushing us to our limits sometimes yet it also provides us with the capacity to surpass ourselves. We discover strengths we never knew we had.
Organization. I thought I was organized before but boy have I been schooled. I learned that having a child requires a whole other level of organization and planning. Things that were simple before take on a new level of complexity. For example, something as simple as heading to the mall for the day requires some serious forethought. Between nap times, feedings, diaper changes, and unpredictable poop explosions or tantrums, I have to make sure I have everything I need to get through the day as well as coordinate my shopping goals with Livie’s schedule. Trying to get out with a baby and actually get things done can be quite overwhelming at first. However, the great news is we adapt. Everyday it gets a little bit easier and eventually becomes second nature.
The ability to adapt. When it comes to getting to know Livie and her needs, every time I think I have it all figured out and start to feel comfortable, she changes. Babies develop at an incredible pace and we just have to keep up. I am starting to understand that there is no comfort zone in motherhood (at least not to date).
How to deal with unsolicited advice. When you have a new baby, everyone is so eager to help, share, comment, and give their opinion on any baby related topic ranging from feeding, sleeping, dressing, schedules and the list goes on…. and on…and on. Although I wholeheartedly believe that people mean well, it can be very overwhelming and even upsetting at times. So, my approach to dealing with unsolicited advice has been to listen, register the parts that I want and leave the rest, and then do whatever the hell I think is best for my child, myself and, my family. After all, mom’s know their children best and they are the ones that will have to contend with what comes of their decisions.
How to set boundaries. Learning to deal with other people’s advice is one thing, but learning to set boundaries and have them respected by others is the hardest challenge I face every single day as a newby to motherhood. You see, I am a people pleaser. I don’t like upsetting others. In other words, saying “no” to others, particularly loved ones, is a difficult and delicate task for me. But when it comes to my child, it is a non-negotiable. I am Livie’s mother. My husband and myself make the rules according to her best interest and I’ve learned that it’s ok to expect that they be respected. Having to set boundaries with others for Livie is teaching me to be more assertive, to trust my judgement more, and to be ok with others disagreeing with me.
To trust my motherly instincts. I read A LOT! I research everything. I have this tireless need to be informed and ready. So, you can imagine that with all the uncertainty and novelty that comes with motherhood, google has become an even greater friend to me than it was before Livie was in my life. But the truth is, there is no book, no article, no Internet forum, and no advice that is more accurate and best suited to your child then a mother’s gut. No child is textbook and no child is the same. So, although I read and listen, I have learned to pay attention to MY little one and MY instincts. And trust them. They are always right.
Perspective. Motherhood has taught me what really matters in life. It has made me realize that so many of the things that I used to fret over before becoming a mother were mostly insignificant, or at least did not warrant as much attention and importance as I gave them. Motherhood has been very grounding for me.
Mindfulness. I have learned to be present in the moment. To take time out of the day to take in the snuggles, the giggles, the silliness, and all the precious moments that I share with Livie. Because they are fleeting. Livie is not the same person today as she was yesterday. She literally changes physically, emotionally and cognitively every single day. I know that some of the moments I lived with her today, I may not get to experience again tomorrow. So I marvel in it. I take the time out from the cleaning, the organizing, and life’s daily hecticness to enjoy the now with Livie.
True love. I know. It’s so cliché. But it’s cliché because it is true! I thought I knew true love before. But the depth of love that I feel for Livie is like nothing I have experienced before. It is visceral. It is overwhelming. It is truly unconditional, and unrelenting. There is no other love like this.
Life with Livie is full of fun and exciting moments and also carries with it its daily challenges and struggles. But watching Livie grow in the past year has been the most fulfilling experience and I am so grateful to have had this time with her. Livie has made me a better person and has forced me to grow in ways that I never knew I could. I look forward to discovering what new lessons life with Livie has in store for me next.