Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Things I've Learned Since Becoming A Mommy

You can read all the parenting books and mommy blogs you'd like while you're expecting your first baby. You can talk to friends who are already moms, plan everything out, make schedules, and design what you think you're life as a mommy is going to be like. 
And then reality sets in. 
The second the nurse in the delivery room puts that baby into your arms, everything is different.  Suddenly you can't imagine what life was like before that precious baby looked at you for the first time. Life has changed. Life has changed in the most amazing way possible. Us mommies have it ingrained in our head that we want to have the perfect pregnancy, the perfect labor and delivery, and the perfect baby. But in reality, none of that is possible. What one person thinks is perfection, someone else thinks differently about. 
I've learned a lot in the past 6 months. A lot about myself. A lot about my husband. And a lot about what it takes to be a mommy. 
Probably one of the most important things I've learned is that suddenly, your world becomes 100% focused on your baby. Nothing is more important. We are sleep-deprived, starving, longing for a peaceful, silent shower at the beginning of motherhood. We just want to sip a hot cup of coffee and maybe catch up on reading e-mails. But the second that baby cries, our focus shifts. Our focus goes to what we were born to do - be a mom. We are able to drop what we are doing at the drop of a hat for our baby. We would do anything for our baby. Most of the time, we do these things without even thinking twice about them. Suddenly everything else goes out the window and we want nothing more than to care for the most precious gift parents can be given. Even someone who is completely career-driven can drop everything at work when she hears from daycare that the baby is sick. Or that baby is being fussy. Our babies are the most important thing to us. And that's exactly how it should be.
We have no control is something else I've learned. Sure, we can have that grand plan of breastfeeding, keeping our babies on a schedule, and making sure that they hit every milestone right on time. But in reality - we have no control over any of that. Breastfeeding may or may not work out. Does that make us any less of a mommy if we have to feed our baby formula? Please. My mama fed me formula and look where I am today - I have two Masters' degrees, I'm happily married, and I have a beautiful daughter. I'm smart and healthy. I tried so hard during the beginning weeks to create a schedule for Elizabeth. It just didn't work. But you know what? It did work. She got the sleep she needed. She got the bottles she needed. And more than anything, she got all the love in the world from two parents who would do anything to make sure that she got exactly what she needed, when she needed it. Oh and milestones. Us mommies have a terrible habit of comparing our babies to eachothers' babies. At my Mom's Night Out group on Friday night, I was talking to one mommy who actually had to take herself off of the "June 2014 babies" group on Facebook because she was getting so worried that her son wasn't meeting the milestones as quickly as everyone else's babies. Sigh. I admit. I'm guilty of it. I have friends who have babies and I'm always asking them - "When did she roll over?" or "When did he first sit up" or even "What were their first words and how old were they?". It's just something that we do. But after having that conversation on Friday night, it put things into perspective. We don't have control over any of this. Our babies will roll over when it's time for them to. They will sit up when they are ready. And those first words? Well, it comes at a different time for everyone.
You know what else I've learned since becoming a mommy? I've learned that my husband is an amazing father. Right from the beginning, he was always there for me. When I had difficulty with breastfeeding, he was right next to me telling me that I wasn't a failure for stopping. He was the one who would get up in the middle of the night and feed our little sweet pea so I could sleep. The second he gets home from work, he takes over. And it just melts. my. heart. The look Elizabeth gives the dada is like no other look. She doesn't ever look at me the way she looks at him. Does she love him more? No. I think she loves us equally. But she just looks at him with different eyes. Nothing is sweeter than standing in the hallway, listening to him and Elizabeth play. The sounds he makes. The raspberries he blows. The songs he sings. The smile he brings to her face. It's all a sign to me that I lucked out with having a husband who has become the best father Elizabeth could have. I wish I could have a secret hidden video camera to record his interactions with her so she could remember these moments when she gets older. What makes it even more special is that other people have picked up on Shaun's natural ability to be such a perfect daddy. While in Buffalo over the holidays, my parents pulled me aside on multiple occasions and pointed out how lucky I am to have such a hands-on daddy for our little girl. And boy, do I thank God every night that he's the one who chose me to be his wife. And to be the mommy for our little girl. 
One final thing that I've learned is that babies have the ability to make us completely exhausted and then in the blink of an eye, they look at us and it makes us immediately energized. There were days when I cried because JB wouldn't nap. I would rock her and lay next to her and she just wanted no part of sleeping. But the second they look into your eye, it just all melts away. Babies have the ability to make us feel like we are super parents. We can go from wanting to scream because all we wanted was to pee in peace to laughing at silly baby faces and snapping hundreds of pictures. Babies are powerful little beings who have the ability to make or break us. But just when we think we are going to break, they let out that little coo. Or give us that cute baby smile. Or maybe even just giggle. Babies are amazing little beings who build us to be the best parents we can be. They are the ones who can give us that look that lets us know that everything is going to be alright and that we are doing the best job we can do of being parents. 

What has motherhood taught you?
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