Almost Two Years Under The Belt: Mami’s List Of Top Wisdom Nuggets In The Adventure Of Parenting

Wow! It is hard to believe that it has almost been two years since Mr. Sweetie was born! I have learned so much in that time, and yet I still feel that I am a beginner when it comes to parenting (I am probably, in a lot of ways, but in other ways, I’m just hard on myself). In this week’s post, I would like to share the main things that I have learned that have been of great assistance, and the things that I would have done differently if I had it to do all over again.

  1. Caring for a baby is only as good as one’s self-care. In the very beginning days and months, I had absolutely no idea how to take care of a baby, so I made that my priority to the extreme – I would lie in bed ravenously hungry all day because Sweetie is a light sleeper and I didn’t want to disturb him; I went almost a week without showering, on a regular basis; I stopped doing things that I needed to do for me, like art; I lived in a perpetual state of immense emotional stress for the first year and a half, because I was more worried about being able to afford housing than I was my own health. While it is legitimate to have to weigh out things of importance, and to want one’s child to have as much of one’s attention and love as possible, I will share some wisdom that I learned, the hard way: your energy and capacity for giving is like a well, and it can and will run dry. Living in this way can work for a while, but, eventually, it catches up to you, and when it does, you will very likely be filled with large amounts of resentment, frustration, anger, and devoid of the kind of patience a baby needs. My advice? Strike a good balance early, and maintain it. You’ll do great.
  2. Find the “no” things that aren’t as big of a deal, and let them go. First babies are difficult like that. If you’re like me, you had virtually zero experience with babies (as in, had to learn how to hold one with your own!), and may have realized, at some point, that you were constantly saying “no”. That word, while I am certain it was used many times in the best interest of Sweetie’s personal safety, could have taken a break sometimes, too, for the things that were just not that big of a deal. Like eating a little dirt. Or pulling everything off a shelf. I want to encourage his curiosity during the times that he is not at risk, or not doing something that is unacceptable. Experimentation is how babies learn.
  3. I wish I would have had a baby carrier before Sweetie was born. When I got one, he was already about six to eight months old, and the second I put him in it, I knew that it was something I had needed much, much earlier! I know I have mentioned previously the personal importance of this to me, and the freedom it gave me, but I want to reiterate. The carrier was absolutely the most essential thing I ever bought for Sweetie. We even use it sometimes still, and he seems to remember the many long days he spent in it when he was younger: he smiles and hugs me close to him, and it is absolutely adorable.
  4. Difficult days don’t mean you are a bad parent. I’d like to keep this numbered list looking uniform, otherwise I would underline this statement. I am still working at being more understanding with myself over this, though I am much, much better now than I have been for the past couple years! Frustrations mount, tempers flare, and it is easy to feel extremely guilty and like a horrible person when you inevitably realize that you are this angry at a precious, innocent baby, who lacks experience and understanding of the world. Hey, that’s right; I’m the adult! Sure doesn’t feel like it sometimes, though…and for those days, give yourself a break. Trying to live at once in two completely different worlds — the one all the other older kids and adults live in, and the world of your little sweetie — can be hard to manage, and stress from one can leak forward to the other and back again. However, it doesn’t mean anything other than what it meant before you were a parent: it passes, tomorrow comes, things will still make you laugh and smile again. It is much more important to maneuver successfully through difficult days in front of your child than it is to pretend they don’t happen while you’re spitting flames inside.
  5. Tell others what you need from them, when you need it. Let’s be real for a moment: at this point in life, as a parent, you just don’t have time for anything other than complete honesty, and you owe it to yourself to be as transparent as possible. If you need help, ask; if you don’t get it, ask someone else. If you still don’t get it, find a way to get it, because your sanity depends on it. I secretly pride myself on my ability to get what I need when I need it, no matter what strings I have to pull or what sacrifices I have to make in other areas. I consider it to be an extremely valuable skill, and probably a major reason that I am still alive and well today. Be unrelenting: don’t stop until you have that hour to yourself, that time to study, that nap, that sandwich, that date, whatever you need. Remember #1: you can only be as good a caregiver to others as the care you give yourself.
  6. Don’t be so serious. You have a little sweetie. That’s permission to do whatever the hell silly shit you want, so take it. You’ve got a golden opportunity here to have a second childhood, but with the bankroll and decision-making power of an adult. (Which could totally make it better than the first childhood.) Have some fun! It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive or extensive or obtrusive or offensive. Just go run through a fountain somewhere or roll down a hill or chase birds! Experiment with accents and make faces; get your hair tangled and your socks wet. Stomp as hard as possible in some puddles. Make your own rain.
  7. Adjust your monetary expectations so that both you and your co-parent have some good quality time with your sweetie. One of the major things I would change (but wasn’t thinking about at the time of conception, because Cisco and I weren’t planning my pregnancy) is the amount that Cisco works to keep our little family going monetarily, and if we have a second baby in a couple years, that will have to be different. I am thankful beyond words for the sacrifices he has made to allow me to stay home with Sweetie (though, honestly, if I worked too, all of my money and probably some of his would go to paying someone else to raise Sweetie, so it actually makes more sense for me to stay home and go to school so I can get a better job and Cisco can work less). But I know that all of us would be happier if he had more time off. So I tell him to take it, as often as I can, while not putting our financial situation into the irreparable zone. Because money is just not as valuable as time. Ever. Money can always be made. Time can never be retrieved.

All right, that’s what I’m going to leave you with. My list of wondrous lessons I have learned thus far. Thanks for reading, as always!

 

What are some things that you would add to this list? How has parenting changed your perspective of the things you already thought you knew? Please leave a comment in the space below; we would love to hear your opinions and experiences!

 

Encouraging Empowered Mamis Everywhere To Do What They Do

Mami

Mami is an artist, aspiring entrepreneur, and first-time, full-time mother. She enjoys long walks with Mr. Sweetie, good food and cooking, her family and dear friends, writing, arting and crafting. She doesn't know everything, but wants to learn, and loves to do research and share what she finds. She thinks life is like a box of puzzle pieces: you keep trying until it fits, because every piece has its place. She owns and operates whatever she sets her mind to, and knows that the sky is only the limit if you haven't left the ground yet.

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