Nothing could have prepared me for October 11, 2016, the day my daughter Bria Florence was born. Maybe it was because she was three weeks early and I was supposed to go to work that day or maybe it was because I had pictured a birth like I saw on television where I’d go to the hospital and my husband would wheel me down a long hallway while I clutched my belly as I had a contraction.
Instead, I got a birth story where I had to call 911 and literally was ready to push just after I arrived at the hospital. I didn’t get to use any of the birthing techniques I spent so long reading about and practicing. I didn’t have time for my mind to catch up with my body to mentally prepare for what was happening in that moment, but nevertheless my daughter was born that day, one year ago and since that day has been teaching me things about life that only she could teach me.
It’s funny because as a parent I know my job is to teach her, yet I feel like I am learning more about myself, and the world, by being her parent and viewing the world through her little eyes. So today on her birthday, I want to share what life lessons I have learned from her in the past 365 days.
It’s okay if things don’t go according to plan.
If you know me, you know I am a planner. Down to the second. Legitimately, if I am going somewhere I figure out what time I need to be there, then I work backwards to determine how long each task will take so I know when I should start getting ready. I like every detail ironed out. I like to prepare for things weeks in advance, go over what I will say five or six times and I even practice my makeup in advance of a big event.
Bria coming three weeks early taught me that no matter how much you prepare, life happens and its how you deal with life that is important. Learning to surrender to the situation that is thrown at you is a hard lesson, but for me its important. For a long time after she was born, I obsessed over her birth. I was mad that it didn’t go how I wanted it to go. Mad that I didn’t get to prepare, that my hair was still wet as I pushed her out, and so many other trivial things. Finally, I realized that this is how it happened and I can’t change it and for so many reasons it was amazing. I had a quick labour. I didn’t require any medical intervention. Heck, I was up and walking around right after she was born and I had a pretty crazy story to share. We can have an idea of how we think things will go, but we need to be flexible and adaptable to whatever life throws our way.
Live in the moment.
Along with loving to plan everything, you can probably assume that living in the moment is something that I’m also so bad at! I can never enjoy what I currently have as I’m constantly planning, worrying or looking to the next thing. I’ve learned that since having Bria, there will always be something to worry about, sometime to plan, and something new on the horizon and instead of obsessing over all these things and how they will unfold, I just need to enjoy the “right now.”
Sometimes that means instead of crossing something off the to-do list, I’m going to take Bria for a walk because the weather is just too nice to waste time doing groceries. Things can wait, people can wait, Facebook can wait. These fleeting moments of listening to your baby laugh because of something as simple as pulling the Velcro tab on her shoe is priceless.
It doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger.
When Bria was smaller, I often found myself wishing for time to pass (I guess I hadn’t learned to live in the moment yet!). I’d say to myself, “When she can sit up it will be easier,” or “when she starts solids it will be easier.” It always seemed like the answers were to just wish time away so that I could get to the easier part.
Spoiler alert: There is no easier part. Each stage presents its own problems and challenges, but the beautiful thing is you get stronger and better equipped to deal with things. I learned this lesson about four months into being a mom, while I cried to my own mom about not eating, being anxious, having issues with breastfeeding and in that moment I realized, that my mom still worries about me and still has to pick me up when I’m down even at 31 years old. Each stage of life will bring its own obstacles, but as time passes I get wiser and more confident in how to be a mom.
You do you.
This was probably the first lesson I learned being a mom, way back when I was pregnant. It seemed every single person had a comment about the way I was doing things. My stomach was too big. I was working too much. I would “get the drugs because people who didn’t get an epidural were stupid” (sorry, had to take a moment as my eyes just rolled out of their sockets).
I realized quite quickly that we all just need to do what’s right for us. I never (and would never) judge another mom’s choices because if that is what works for her and her family, you go Glen Coco. So I learned to keep my mouth shut and let unwarranted or unfounded advice roll off my back. The only place where I feel safe to vocalize my opinions is here on my blog. This is my corner of the internet and I feel like here I can say whatever is on my mind and I think that would be my biggest advice to others – just do you. Everyone will have something to say no matter what you do, so you should just do what feels right for you because they’ll talk either way. This advice goes for being a mom and a person in general.
It’s not all about me, but I’m important too.
I think one of the hardest parts of being a parent is adapting to the fact that your life completely revolves around this tiny human. As much as people can talk to you about this and you can theoretically understand it, you won’t until you live it. Being able to accept that you just drove twenty minutes to the mall and your baby refuses to sit in the stroller so you literally turn the car around and drive all the way back home is a hard pill to swallow (and yes this happened last week). Realizing you may need to leave the family picnic early because you need to be home by 8:00 PM before your baby completely melts down is a new way of living. Being able to just choose to do simple things like make lunch or go pee are now dictated by your baby and that can be a huge shift.
The great thing is that it makes you realize that getting that time for you is so important. Making an effort to schedule things like spa dates, outings with friends, or even just going to yoga or taking a bath is necessary to keep you mentally stable and feeling like you. You spend all of your energy and all of your heart and soul pouring into raising your child that is important you put that same level of care into you.
For me, having hobbies like selling LipSense and blogging allow me an outlet where I’m doing something completely unrelated to being a mom and that is necessary for me. Personally, I had a hard time adjusting to my new identity as a mom and felt like I lost a lot of who I was at first so making time to get in touch with what I enjoy when I’m not “momming” has been crucial for my overall happiness.
Giving birth was the easiest part.
I was recently asked what the hardest part of the past year was. I think most would expect me to say pushing a baby out of my who-ha without drugs. Honestly, that was the easiest part. I had a team of doctors and nurses telling me what to do. The hardest part was everything after. Seriously someone needs to give you a manual or something when you leave the hospital that chronicles in layman’s terms what to do for the next eighteen years. All I can say is that I am incredibly lucky to have found my tribe of people with whom I can lean on for advice and support. I’ve learned to be strong when I feel weak and to trust my instincts because they’re usually right. I’ve also learned sometimes when you want to cry, just laugh and you’ll feel better and you’re never too old to ask your mom for help. All in all, this year was scary, incredible, filled with so much love and I wouldn’t change any of it.
What have you learned by being a parent?