Monday, November 2, 2015

Things I've Learned as a Mom

As I sit here on the couch, my baby is sleeping soundly in his crib down the hall and I'm feeling nostalgic. Cameron celebrated his first birthday just a few weeks ago, and I'm still kind of in denial that it's been a year since I gave birth to this little boy.

It has been such a whirlwind year and it has truly changed my life for the better. I can't even really express in words how much motherhood has impacted me. It began changing me from the moment I first found out I was pregnant on February 1, 2014. Pregnancy was filled with expectation, nervousness and excitement as that little baby grew from being smaller than a sesame seed to a full 8 pounds 12 ounces when he was born. Pregnancy and birth may be normal and happen all over the world, every day, but it sure doesn't change how miraculous it is. I'm in awe of how God forms children in the womb.

I've definitely learned a lot since becoming a mom. As I'm reflecting on my experiences, here are some of the things that I've learned that come to mind, ranging from the philosophical to the practical:

1. The love that filled my heart when I became a mother is so unlike anything I've experienced. Sometimes it makes my heart almost ache, like I can't contain it fully. I would describe it as being fiercely protective, tenderhearted delight in my baby.

2. Baby snuggles are one of my most favorite things ever. I love holding a sleeping baby and cherish these moments while they last.

3. Being a mom has forced me to readjust expectations of how much I can get done in a day. I'm still learning this one! I've always been someone who makes to do lists and loves checking things off. But I've found that most days, there just aren't hours in the day to get done everything I wish I could. I may sometimes need to pick between getting the bathrooms clean and doing laundry on a given day, and that's OK.

4. Being a detailed and analytical person, pregnancy and motherhood has put me on a relentless research quest. There are so many decisions you have to make as a parent, and you want to make the best ones you can. Research is an important part of that process. But it can become easy to become overwhelmed with information especially when there are so many differing opinions on just about every imaginable topic. I'm having to learn how to find balance of doing the necessary research, while knowing when to stop. As moms, we do the best we can and we have to learn to be comfortable with our decisions without second guessing everything.

5. Breastfeeding can be challenging, especially those first few particularly bleary-eyed weeks, but it is well worth it to stick it out. Along with that, one of the biggest things I learned is that knowledge is power and getting help early on (lactation consultant, mom, etc.) can make a world of difference. It quickly got much easier, and has been such as special thing for my baby and me.

6. Connecting with other moms is really important. I remember some pretty lonely times in those early months as a new mom as I faced long days at home with little adult interaction. I desperately wanted to connect with other moms, but it was hard to know where to turn to find that community that I longed for. I decided I would just have to keep looking for ways to get out. I took Cameron to the library's Baby Bookworms program, joined MOPS, and chatted with moms at church when there was an opportunity. Slowly, I've begun to feel more connected, but I still long to continue to deepen existing friendships and to make new ones as well. I guess this is an ongoing challenge for moms, and really women in general. We need each other and our culture and society doesn't always make it easy to connect on a deep level.

7. I have found that I sometimes surprise myself as a mom. Case in point: When I was pregnant, I really didn't give cloth diapering a second thought. I just wasn't interested in it. Fast forward to when Cameron was about 5 months old, and I found myself looking up everything I could find about cloth diapers. After thoroughly researching the matter and talking to a few moms I knew, I decided to take the leap and buy some cloth diapers. Now 7 months later we're still going strong with the cloth diapers and use them most of the time. And I really like them: they're frugal, they're more natural than disposables, and I think they're pretty cute too. I never would have predicted that I would become a cloth diapering mom, but it just goes to show sometimes you just have to try something new and not be afraid to take a leap.

8. Baby giggles and smiles brighten the worst of days. Sometimes when I'm feeling stressed or frustrated, Cameron deep down belly laughs and flashes his vibrant smile at me, and suddenly the day's problems seem lighter. He is such a blessing.

I'm so thankful for the privilege of being a mother, and I'm excited to see what God has in store on this journey.

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