Oh, I know that one year of motherhood does not a parenting expert make!
But it seems fitting that at this point, I lay down some knowledge if only for my own eyes to look back upon. Here are the biggest things I’ve learned after a year of amazing but crazy, tough but awesome, tiring but blissful motherhood:
On newfound parenthood and strengthening a relationship
Becoming a parent is wonderful but it is tough. It’s also at times, lonely. It can be hard on a relationship when you’re both tired. A part of you wants to keep score, asking who is doing who’s fair share? In the light of day these things seem silly but you know that little things can become big things and so you talk about them and find balance in compromise. You learn to play to each others strengths and to get out of the house more often…both together and independently. ‘You’ time is healthy but nothing beats your family dynamic.
On listening to others advice on mothering
At first you absorb all that you can because parenting is a foreign subject and just like your first year of high school you’re eager to please and keen to do the dance that everyone else does. But then you realise that your baby is unique (and that your needs are unique too) and so you learn to let go of expectation, both yours and ‘theirs’ doing away with the things that don’t work and making your own mind up about the things that do. You find your groove somewhere between tradition, necessity and intuition and so you do your own dance with motherhood and you don’t care if anyone sees (or agrees).
On looking after ‘you’ as well as ‘yours’
Self care is super important. As much as your child is your everything that Snickers bar at the end of the day will not sustain you and it could also explain why you are anemic (said no-one in particular). Which brings me to my next realisation. Talk. Find people who will listen without judgement, you’ll know them as the ones who fill your own awkward admissions with their all-too-familiar struggles. They’re also the ones who’ll share a great tip and lend you a bib or nappy if you forget to bring one. But above all, talking to others just gets you out of your own head-space (which at times can be toxic and self-sabotaging). Like those times when the answer to all your problems is staring right at you and just the simple act of talking to someone (other than doctor Google) can spark your own intuition (because often, it was there all along). And just like that you remember that ‘you’ve got this‘.
On motherhood one year on
I remember someone saying that 9 months was a good age, in fact I’m sure there is a case for every age because quite simply, your love grows with your child. For me, it started out as ‘out-of-this-world exponential love’ and then just kept filling up from there to the point where I can’t really remember or imagine a life without him in it. One is a great age. There is something to learn or navigate at every age but there is so much to love too. Costa at 1 is cheeky, witty and full-on at times but he is also quiet and caring. And those cuddles. Ooooooh those nuzzling-in, weary-eyed cuddles, there’ll always be a place on my shoulder for them….