This is the post on parenting that I’ve been wanting to write for a while, and I’m going to put it all out there. These are my own opinions, and this is my own life. As always, I’m keeping it real for you, my friends. And to be honest, I get a little nervous when I write posts like this because parenting can be a slightly sensitive topic, and I’m bound to leave out something or say too much. But here we go …
When people say that the first year of parenting flies by, I sort’ve get it, but I sort’ve don’t. It’s actually almost hard to remember those first few weeks of having a newborn in our lives. Was that a year ago? Was that five years ago? I’m not sure. Because I just can’t imagine myself looking back to a time before we had Brady. Sure I have all sorts of fun stories and this and that, but really thinking about the way it was different — somehow, someway it’s hard to grasp. Yet, at the same time, I also agree that the weeks have somehow turned into months into a year. A very strange combination of slow and fast.
I have to begin this by saying I am fully blessed to have been able to get pregnant naturally, especially after working for about two years to heal my hormones, overcome hypothalamic amenorrhea and then change my lifestyle, diet and so much more in order to prove a few doctors wrong. I did it. And I had a healthy pregnancy, teaching group fitness classes through 33 weeks.
The labor and delivery part didn’t go so well, but I ended up safe and sound and so did Brady. I have a healthy son. This is MAJOR. I know these things, and if you don’t have these things, please know that I am absolutely hoping you keep the faith and know that your time will come, somehow, some way. Because mine did, after several years of not thinking it would.
What I’ve learned from my first year of parenting
That being said, parenting and being a mom is not easy. It has presented me with the most challenges of my entire life in the last year. I’ve worked very competitive and tough jobs in busy industries. I’ve pushed myself to the physical limits in fitness professional trainings. I’ve moved across the country away from everything I’ve ever known. I’ve done a lot. But parenting is hard. In the most amazingly hard and happy way.
Here are a few things I know to be true …
Just when you think you’ve got it, things change
It never fails — I’ll have a few weeks in a row, when I really think we’re on a roll. Everything is working nicely on a schedule, we’re getting things done, Brady is happy, I’m happy, Dave is happy, Rudy is happy … and then things change. All of a sudden, Brady will start teething and be up multiple times in the middle of the night. Or he’ll get a runny nose and constantly need his boogers sucked while we’re out and about (yes, I said it).
But mostly, on a larger level, new challenges continue to arise. While Brady doesn’t need me to support his head when I hold him anymore, he does crawl around like crazy, so I can’t just put him in a spot and turn around and do something. He is constantly moving and constantly needing my full attention. And I know as he continues to grow, the challenges will continue. It’s amazing. But it’s also hard.
You will feel a full spectrum of emotions during the course of most days
Mom life means that you may feel slightly on edge, stressed and annoyed by breakfast time, but also nearly cried from joy, warmness and snuggles just five minutes beforehand. You will feel so happy and proud of your child and the fact that you are a mom, then you will want to pull your hair out as you’re trying to corral your child into his carseat for a trip to the grocery store. Then, you’ll get SO mad at yourself for ever feeling ANYTHING but joy. And this is what gets me. The guilt of feeling anything but joy.
I find myself so happy most of the time, but when I get those moments of frustration, I get over them so quickly and then instantly feel bad that I ever felt that way. (As a side note: In my personal life, I rarely get over grudges/anger situations quickly, but with Brady, it takes about 5 seconds to totally forgive and forget hehehe.) I know it’s natural, and I’m guessing some of you have done it too. But it happens. Patience runs out. Then, the guilt of letting that natural emotion come up comes in. Ohhhh the roller coaster. It’s happens at least a few times a week. (Another side note: On the weekends when Dave is around much more, I really don’t have the full spectrum. So I believe that having two full-time stay-at-home parents with a child is the only way to live hahaha. Is that possible?)
You don’t always know what you’re doing, but that’s okay
There is no instruction manual. When you take your baby home from the hospital, you are terrified. As the weeks and months go on, you will Google everything under the sun. Sure, you can ask your friends, but really — it’s up to you to figure out how to care for your kid, keep them alive, keep them well, feed them and help them grow. It’s all you.
There have been many times when I’ve been unsure on what to do — I think about it — I talk to Dave, I do some online research, and I go with my gut. And so far, that has not led me astray. We’re soooo lucky that Brady hasn’t had any major issues at all, but there have certainly been things that have stumped me along the way. We just do our best!
You literally melt at every little thing your kid does
When you create a little human, you become ever aware of every little thing that they do. As Brady has been growing throughout the year and when has has started to show new motor skills, pick up new toys, make new sounds, pull himself up, touch the dog leash on a walk, I mean — these may not be exciting to everyone, but they are exciting to me/us. I take pictures to send to Dave (if he is at work and not experiencing whatever is happening), my mom and dad too so they can see what our little guy is doing.
For instance, when we were on the plane to Ohio a couple of weeks ago, we brought a little “touch and feel” book for Brady to play with. Well he immediately used his little pointer finger to touch the furry part of the dog in the book. That’s the only thing he wanted to touch. Is this cute? Yes? Was this a big deal to us? Yes, because he used his pointer finger to touch it and chose the dog as his favorite animal. We almost died. We still mention it. Like yes. This is parenthood.
You want to be away sometimes, but then you really miss them
I love to get out and about without Brady and feel that independence that I used to have all the time. While I don’t think about him every minute, when I do think about him, I miss him … like … a lot. I crave an adult vacation, but I also know that I couldn’t go more than 24 hours without being near that little man. He is part of our lives for forever, so even though it would be fun to go all sorts of places without him, I also want him to be with us too almost all of the time. I miss him. He’s the best. I can’t just go away. Things are different now. (Although I do think Dave and I do a decent job of getting out without him at least every other week or so, so that’s good!)
There’s never enough time in the day
When I was working in the corporate world, my days were super full. There was even a time when I was writing this blog, working full time at a desk job and teaching group fitness classes (and trying to get pregnant and going to 8 million doctor appointments), and yet, that amount of busy is not the same as mom or parent busy. There’s just NOT enough time to do it all. If you’re a parent who goes off to an office, I’m sure your morning rush and evening rush is insane and you just want more time to spend with your child during the week.
Well, if you’re a working-from-home mom like I am, then you may look at a day with no particular appointments and think you’ll have a lot of time to check things off your to-do list, but with baby feeding, baby playing, baby changing and baby loving, somehow the days get by and you’re left wondering where the time went. There’s time. But it’s never enough to do it all. Some days, I feel like I’m in control and powered through a ton of work during Brady’s nap, but some days not so much. Every single nap, I try to immediately head to the computer to work, but there are times when I choose to shower, eat or do a chore — and that’s time I lose, thus I continue working at night after he goes to bed, and that time goes by quickly too.
It’s not easy to be a minimalist, because kids need a lot of stuff
Stuff. It’s a lot. Even if you don’t go overboard with what you buy. I’ve always been a bit of a neat freak, and I like to keep the counters clear and a mostly minimal design. When Brady was a baby, we could get away with just a couple of places to put him, but now that he’s a toddler (I still have trouble calling him a toddler, because he’s still a little baby in my eyes), he needs toys, large contraptions, a drying rack on the counter for all his little dishes and cups, and we need a baby gate to section off some areas of the house too — in addition to all the outlet covers, which make plugging in the vacuum a real chore hehehe.
While I think our house still looks nice, and I still keep it really clean, if it were up to me, we’d have no sign of children outside of the nursery hahahha. But that’s not realistic, and it’s fine how it is. And speaking of minimalism, you really have to bring a lot when you travel too. No more packing light for us!
Kids are a major source of entertainment and they make you play
There’s not a day that goes by that I haven’t giggled and smiled and played by 9 a.m. And I don’t think that was always the case before Brady. Sure, Rudy has been our baby for three years, and he’s the snuggliest and sweetest pup, who is still a huge and important part of our family and part of the giggles, but Brady just makes me laugh. When we get him up in the morning his hair is always SO crazy. He makes the weirdest sounds. He’s so chatty. He’s got this funny thing where he lifts his arm up and does “the claw” when he’s happy. He just makes us laugh. Even when I’m stressed, have a huge to-do list, haven’t showered and am just sitting in the playroom in the middle of a weekday with him without a phone or computer, I laugh. We play, and I laugh. He forces me to play, and that is good for the soul. And boy do I love watching him play with Dave and Rudy too.
Not living near family majorly sucks
We knew when we moved to California from Florida that we were moving away from family. But that was before kids, and it just didn’t seem like that big of a deal. Now, here we are, have built a great life, have bought a house and have a good community — yet, we’re not near any family. Yes, we have Dave’s sister about 90 minutes away, but she works full time and is super busy, so we don’t really ever see her. And currently, we have Dave’s cousin in San Francisco for a temporary assignment, and she’s been so sweet as to watch Brady for us a couple of times, but once again — she works as a nurse and is very busy and is moving soon, so we don’t really get to see her either.
That being said, almost all of my friends have family, mainly parents, nearby. What does that mean? They have help. If they are sick, their parent can come watch the kid, so they can nap. If they need to go to the doctor or dentist, they have someone to call on during the week to come help. When they’re late on a blog assignment and have a full hamper of laundry and need to get their hair done before a trip, they call a parent in to help. (#RealLifeProblems)
I don’t have those things. When I’m sick, I’m still doing the mom life with Brady. When I need to go to the doctor, I have to take him. The dentist? That’s a whole other story because he can’t come — and I had to cancel about five dentist appointments a few months ago when we were between babysitters. These days we’ve found a babysitter who is pretty reliable, but she’s not available all the time and not so much during the days. And getting a babysitter isn’t just quite the same as having some extra family hands pop over on a moment’s notice, you know?
While this may sound like I’m complaining, because yes, I chose to move to California, it’s just not that easy. This is where I want to live and love to live, but I also WANT to live near my parents (or Dave’s parents), and this is not where they live. The three weeks that my Mom was here seemed just RIGHT. She helped me with so much and it was just this feeling I don’t normally have.
This wasn’t supposed to be my longest bullet of the post, but it’s a subject I’m sort’ve stuck on. Being a parent and raising kids is beautiful and challenging for everyone, but if you have family nearby to help — you’re lucky. I do have good friends who I could possibly ask for help, but they all have kids and jobs as well, so it just never seems right to do that. That’s all I will say about that. Life is complicated, and so this is the situation I find myself in today.
Everything takes a little more planning
No, you can’t just pop out when you want and for as long as you want. You are constantly on the nap schedule, you have to have the diaper bag, make sure you’ve fed your child and you can’t stay out too long. Every trip takes a little more planning and effort, especially overnight trips — remember — you need a lot of stuff. It’s certainly gotten a lot easier, but I remember in the beginning, perhaps the first six months or so, I was exhausted by the time we just got into the car to head anywhere. But at the same time, outings are good for the soul, so you’ve got to do at least one or two each day for sure. Get out of the house! (Walks work too!)
Watching your child grow is truly the greatest joy
This is what it’s all about. Spending time with my little man, watching him grow, watching him with Dave, watching his personality develop and seeing him learn and knowing he is a truly a creation of me and of Dave — that is pure joy. He is so soft and sweet and smart and caring and curious. Snuggling him is the best ever. I love him and feel so much joy from him that I can hardly put it into words.
Overall thoughts on the first year of parenting
I am truly the same person that I was before Brady, but everything is different now. I still care about fitness, food, fun, friends, writing and wine, but I care about them all knowing that Brady is mostly my number one. I still want to work. I still want to teach classes. I still want to have relationships. I still want to do all the things I’ve ever wanted to do, but I do them knowing that my real project and passion is a living and breathing one. A cute one with blue eyes and blond crazy hair.
Although being a mom is perhaps a little harder than I expected, it is BY far my greatest accomplishment and it is worth every little tiny bit of effort. Three cheers for all the parents out there just doing their best!
And that, my friends is parenthood for me right now. We certainly don’t have it all figured out, but we’re one year into this great adventure and learning as we go. Thank YOU for reading and following along our lives as we do it.
Here are some more posts you may like …
- My favorite things you actually need when you have a baby
- Brady’s 1-year update
- What I’m doing to have a healthy postpartum recovery
Questions of the day
Parents out there, do you have anything to add?
How was your weekend?
What’s something hard that you’ve done that also makes you so happy?