It’s just starting to sink in that Roman is going to be one year old. One is such a life changer. The bottles, the formula, the crawling. They’re all replaced by such big-kid equivalents. Sippy Cups, milk, walking. 12 months is such a turning point. I find myself holding onto this baby knowing it will soon disappear into a child. But there’s also the relief. The excitement. Lets just say I know exactly how many days until I will never wash another bottle again. Ever. There’s a lot of changes that are about to take place. And with these new milestones. Good. Bad. Or just different. It has me thinking about just how hard that first year always is.
Even on my third go at this baby thing, it’s still just a really hard year. There’s no owner’s manual. No right way. A lot of what you do as a momma that first year is based on nothing but good ol’ momma intuition. Parenting in general — to all ages — is hugely natural instincts mixed with a bunch of hoping and praying that you’re right. You really only sprinkle in a little prior knowledge, research and advice. And what makes that first year especially hard is that you have to find your style of parenting. You have to listen to that intuition and let it form your voice. It it only comes from getting to know your baby — something that doesn’t happen overnight. And even more so, it comes from getting to know yourself with the baby.
Because, inevitably, your baby will change you. Will form you. Into a newer and better you. If you just let it happen.
It takes confident decision making. You learn to gather all of the information out there — and holy shit is there a lot of it — and make a choice. Be it sleeping styles. Vaccine schedules. Bottle or breast. There’s a brand new terrifying choice to be made at every turn. Then you make that choice and you’d better own it. Because boy are there haters. There’s no right way to do this — parenting is subjective — and with anything subjective opinions become increasingly vocal. For every person you find that says, “Great choice momma!” there’s another that says, “Really? You chose that? You know that is really dangerous and damaging.”.
It takes a willingness to learn. If it’s your first, those books and the way your Mom did it aren’t going to combine into an instruction manual. And unfortunately, if it’s your second or third, with each baby those prior choices you made are gone and outdated. You better start over. Sure, some things are easier the second or third time. I don’t fear unintentionally killing my babies by giving them a bath. I don’t think every time they cry they need to go to the doctor. I’ve even learned to assume the brown mark on the couch cushion is probably poop not chocolate. But most things are just as hard and just as new. Feeding them. Getting them to sleep. Comforting them when they cry. It all starts over. Your new baby is 100% original and if you don’t clear all prior assumptions you’ll soon be schooled on just how original that baby really is. What worked before can and usually utterly fails. Bringing me back to that first year. It’s so damn hard.
Ultimately, you’re finding your groove and learning to trust yourself. And for some reason, (for me) these 2 seemingly simple things always seem to take that same amount of time. 1 year. It’s a process. There will be times you will cower to the haters. You will go against your instinct. You will put others before your baby, your instincts, and your family’s needs. It happens to the best of us. But fear not. After that first year you learn to own it. To just do your thing. To make choices that are best for your baby and you. You will metaphorically or literally give the middle finger to the haters. And you know what, you’ll stop caring, and it will feel damn good. I am still shocked by the mom that I ended up being to each of my kids. For the good and the bad. It just kind of happened. On the plus side I never thought I would be so laid back. So good at letting them be individuals. So perceptive of their needs. And on the bad side I never thought I’d struggle so much in the beginning. I thought I knew myself. And then these kids completely pushed me to the brink of being lost. I questioned everything I stood for. Until I slowly climbed out on the other side with this confidence in myself that I’d never had before.
So now, I am about to celebrate the first birthday of this little girl that I know inside and out — my last baby. Who’s needs I can completely anticipate. And that isn’t something I couldn’t say 11 months ago. Time. It just takes time to build a momma bear. But once you reach that point, you would never go back.
It just keeps getting better and better.
And to the obnoxious old folks who are going to say,
“Wait until the teenage years! It just gets harder!”.
You, my friend, are one of the haters. You’re not helping. While I do not doubt that hard times are ahead, one thing is for sure: I will know who I am as I march into battle. And that’s something I could have never known when I started this journey.
I love being a mom. I even love that first year of finding myself. I love that these kids have become my world. There is no place I would rather be than on this incredibly challenging adventure. Us mommas, as hard as it is. We are the lucky ones. We get to see the world through the eyes of our littles. And not only that, we get to change this world for the better. I don’t fear the coming generations, I eagerly await them. Because if your kids are anything like mine, you’ll get to watch them accomplish incredible things. And you’ll look back knowing how worth it that first year really was.
So if no one is saying it to you. I will.
You’re doing a great job, momma. Hang in there. You got this. And your kids are just as amazing as you think they are. They’re going to change this world.