Before our son was born I could have never imagined how my life would change. I mean, I read about how my life would never be the same and what kinds of things I could expect. I also have many friends who have children and I’ve personally witnessed how their lives have changed over the years, but no matter how much you think you’ve prepared for a child, you are never truly “ready”, am I right?!
When our son was born, I immediately felt a shift happen within me. I didn’t know what it was at first, nor was I prepared for it. In fact, it made me uncomfortable and vulnerable in a way I had never experienced before. I felt raw and exposed, like no matter how much I tried to channel my former self, I no longer knew who that person was. I had somehow transformed without even making a conscious effort to do so.
Yet, as the fogginess of becoming a new parent began to dissipate, I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, I had become a better person. A kind of upgraded version of myself.
Our son is about to turn seven months old, and I’ve found myself reflecting on how much life has changed since his birth…and how I could no longer picture my life without him in it. And while he is developing by the second, I think it’s fair to say we’ve both grown exponentially in the past seven months.
The following are the seven most significant life lessons I’ve learned (this far) from my 7 month old.
Women are Warriors
After having my son via emergency belly birth two long days after being induced, I quickly realized just how taxing the birthing experience is on both the body and mind. Despite the unbearable physical pain and sudden hormonal changes we are confronted with, we continue to challenge our discomfort and push through in order to make sure our baby’s transition into this world is as smooth as it possibly can be. And to imagine some women willingly choose to experience this over and over and over again?!! MIND. BLOWN. It wasn’t until I experienced this first-hand that my love for women grew tenfold. I’ve always had much respect for my fellow ladies, but man, was it ever taken to a new level when my son was born. I can no longer look at another woman without silently giving her props. Just knowing what our bodies and minds are capable of has convinced me that women are warriors. PERIOD.
I never knew how much love I had to give until my son was born. I always knew that I was a loving person, but I never knew just how deep that well of love was inside of me. I now know that love is a renewable resource. If you are willing to give it, it will continue to grow. And this abundance of love isn’t just reserved for baby. In fact, my love for my husband grows more with each passing day. I am in awe of him as I watch him interact with our children, when he holds my hand through the tough stuff, when he looks into my eyes and tells me I’m beautiful even when I know I’m not at my best, when he makes dinner even though he’s just as exhausted as I am.
While bringing a child into the world will always change the dynamic of any relationship, I have found that by being in a healthy, mutually-fulfilling relationship prior to our little guy, the love and respect I have for my husband has only continued to expand over the past seven months. On the flip-side, I would NEVER advise having a child in the hopes of fixing an unhealthy relationship. The physical and emotional changes that occur with the arrival of an infant will only expose and amplify the issues that were lurking under the surface prior to baby. A baby will never fix a broken relationship, but it will certainly enrich a healthy, respectful, and loving one.
Ask for Help
I am stubborn on the best of days. Being a Leo, I am fiercely independent and often shudder at the thought of asking for help of any kind. That being said, when my son was born, I had no other option. Being a new mom, I didn’t know the first thing about…well…anything when it came to caring for a newborn. If you are as lucky as I am and have family and friends willing to help, just swallow your pride and indulge them. You will feel less overwhelmed and they will feel needed. It’s a win/win. What I have learned is that asking for help isn’t an admission of defeat, it’s the realization that you’re human and you don’t have to do everything on your own.
Trust your Instincts
As a new mother, I have become acutely aware of the power of instinct. When it comes to your family, don’t ever let anyone or anything compromise that gut feeling. If something isn’t sitting well with you, don’t allow it to happen. You know in your heart what is best for your family. Trust those feelings and act on them.
Appreciate the Little Things
Every moment as a new parent is precious. Even when we are exhausted and achy and feeling depleted, try to remember you will never get this time back. In the past seven months, I’ve endured some pretty complicated physical health issues. There have been times where I haven’t been able to hold my baby, snuggle him, or feed him. It is in these moments that I have realized just how much we take for granted the “duties” we have as parents. Daily tasks that I may have at one time considered tedious, quickly became the things I cherished the most when they were taken away from me. If you catch yourself struggling to find a silver lining in the stress that often accompanies parenting a newborn, try pausing, breathing in the moment, and smiling to yourself. Remind yourself that this too shall pass, and that every moment is precious. After all, it’s often the little things we take for granted that we wish we could relive when they’re gone.
Don’t Waste Time on the Superficial
Hair will grow back, yoga pants are an acceptable wardrobe choice, and your house doesn’t have to look like it came straight out of a Martha Stewart catalogue. Pre-baby, I often found myself stressing over the most superficial things. Our house had to be clean from top to bottom and everything had its place. And although I hate to admit it, I spent way too much time getting ready in the mornings. This hypervigilant focus on what things “should” look like took time and focus away from what is most important in life…the way things ARE. Be proud of who you are and settle into the reality that it’s okay to let things “be” just as they are. Try viewing yourself and the world around you through your children’s eyes. I guarantee you’ll be a lot more forgiving.
Go With the Flow
My closest friends and family can attest that I’ve never been the most laid back. In fact, I can remember as a child always worrying about the “what ifs” in life and really struggling to live in the moment. And despite years of yoga training and practice, I can honestly say I’m probably the most uptight yogi I know. That is, until my son was born and I had no other choice but to go with the flow.
Babies have a way of throwing nearly every plan you’ll ever make out the window. Have somewhere to be at 1pm, but the baby has been up all night and is finally napping? Sorry ‘bout your luck. Have an important phone call to take, but you’re busy cleaning up a pop-explosion? Too bad, so sad. Pre-baby, having a plan and not sticking to it would have stressed me out beyond belief. Not anymore. My priorities have shifted in a way I never imagined they could. It’s taken me seven months, but I have now learned that the only thing within my control is to allow myself to take one day, one hour, one minute at a time. You never know what each moment will bring…and more often than not, it will be something you least expect. Trust me. So, in order to minimize stress, I’ve found my only option has been to surrender the need to control everything and settle into each moment just as it is. Don’t get me wrong, I still have to remind myself of this every damned day, but I’m learning…thanks to the beautiful soul who made me his mommy seven short months ago.