Disclaimer: The photos in this post are courtesy of Richard McGowan & Stacey Jane Anderson- some also featured in previous posts.
ONE: Be thankful for every moment
Last year I remember thinking “I can’t believe it’s been a whole week since I gave birth to this beautiful little thing!” Now, one whole year later, I’m thinking “Yeah, they were all right when they say time goes by SO fast!”
I am so thankful that I discovered Buddhism at a deeper level during the earlier days to help keep me mindful of those moments. Later on RIE parenting re-enforced this importance of mindfulness during observation of play, breastfeeding and even just taking time to notice Jesse’s cues when he needs fed, comfort or needs the toilet (we practice EC).
two: OTher parents don’t judge! (not really)
It’s true that as a new Mother, it’s natural to feel self-conscious and anxious about our choices and methods in the early days. It’s also natural to research again and again, collecting opinions from other parents for fear that if we do it our own way (or even what our gut is telling us) then we will be judged by Mama Van Holier-than-thou!
The real deal is, other parents don’t judge! They have been there, right in your shoes, so they are far more likely to be more understanding than anything else- even if they have a difference of opinion! SO, before you worry about buying a bottle of formula, getting your boob out in public, getting the cheapest disposable nappies or even hesitating before you choose to immunize your baby- don’t stress! Making parental decisions are the most difficult you will ever make, so don’t judge yourself because others sure as hell aren’t!
Three: making friends is easier
Making friends and being sociable with strangers is far easier for me when I’m with JJ! SO many random strangers talk to me and communicate with him, which is amazing for me; as an introvert, I naturally rely on others approaching me before I make conversation, so as you can imagine, Jesse has been a gift for my social development!
Following on from the previous point, parents are so understanding and just being parents (especially new mothers) connects us in the most unique way. We have all shared the experience of having the full responsibility of our tiny humans and this unique experience brings us closer together than any other shared experience, universally. Other than strangers, there are many events and regular meet-ups, play groups and support for parents in that Fourth Trimester- ask your Health Visitor how to get involved!
four: nothing is set in stone
This goes for just about everything really; plans, you, your baby, your marriage/ relationships. Be prepared to pull out of plans last minute because perhaps baby is still asleep, feeding or unwell. Take everything with a pinch of salt and make this your new philosophy because, at the end of the day, baby’s needs come first and in the early days, they can be SO unpredictable! Jesse used to establish patterns and as soon as we got used to them, he changed his routine!
This really helps re-enforce my recent choice to follow a Buddhist philosophy because I learned to expect less from Jesse and from the universe! This is probably one of the most important lessons in life to restore happiness, for if we expect we will only find disappointment if we don’t get what is expected.
five: grow together, with your baby
Becoming a parent changes all of us! I learned during a parenting class that our brains won’t have used this much energy to develop since puberty! SO, the change is a mental growth for Mama and Papa as well as all the leaps baby goes through. What an amazing time to grow personally and adapt to life caring for a brand new human- introducing them to the world in which they will grow into their own person.
six: priorities & decisions…
I think the biggest lesson I have taken from motherhood, it is that your little one will be your priority in any circumstance, no matter what. Be it that they become the reason you didn’t make your friend’s birthday party, missed the bus or was late for dinner at your parents. On the other hand, there is the ordeal of your work-life balance and whether or not to take a career break to be the full time primary care-giver to your child…
I understand that all circumstances are different and that others in our situation may have more help from family due to living in the same county or have different beliefs in their unique cultures, but for us it made sense for me to be Jesse’s full time carer, therefore I have not gone back to work. You may decide that you need your job to have time and space to fulfill your own needs which will indeed make you a more effective parent at home when you feel more complete!
Before Jesse, I had tried many jobs and career options. Even the thing I love and still inspire to do (Life Coaching and Guidance) I have put on hold so many times to prioritize Jesse. He will always be my number one and makes career goals mean nothing to me when I can be his rock, his teacher and his guide as he begins his walk of life, holding my hand.
seven: birth is the ultimate preparation for motherhood
I am not the first to say this, but it is SO TRUE. Pregnancy and Birth are natures means of foreshadowing the continuous worry, pain and empowerment yet to come. Mothers never stop being mothers, from the moment they know they are pregnant- they also never stop worrying! “Have I fixed the car seat tight enough?”, “Should I have given him this?” “Will he be OK?” The nature of maternal love keeps up awake and responsive to our child’s needs and protect them, so don’t worry if you feel like a paranoid freak in the early days- you’re just being a Mama!
Eight: just love them to bits!
A tiny baby just needs to feel they are loved and cared for, so if you are all out of ideas to get that little one to stop crying, if you respond with love, you are doing the right thing! Cuddle them, keep them close, use a baby carrier, if you don’t know what’s wrong- just love them and it will be OK 🙂
nine: babies are at home in nature
Up until a certain age, babies are behaving on pure instinct. This makes being with them and during pregnancy the closest to nature I have ever been! Your baby won’t judge you, choose to behave a certain way to play games or manipulate you, they will just simply be a pure reflection of their instinctual desires. Watching Jesse explore outdoors has to be the most fascinating thing- he just loves pointing at birds, touching trees, earthing and feeling the texture of grass under his feet.
ten: being a full time mama is still a choice
The fear I had throughout pregnancy and early motherhood of being unable to “afford” to stay home was always underlying. With so many people talking about going back to work after 9 months and not being “able” to stay home and that it’s “too hard” to financially cope.
I’m going to tell you straight, my husband and I aren’t loaded! We have made sacrifices and cut down on material expenses (check out my minimalism series for more about this) to make sure that we can still cover all our bills and live a reasonable lifestyle. I do plan to work in future, however, I just feel that at this point in motherhood, it’s my time to be there for Jesse- just like my own Mother was there for me and I have learned the best from her influence. This is the only job which has come most naturally to me so I want to embrace it and finally enjoy doing something I can do!
in a nutshell…
No matter what most people do or expect you to do, just listen to your gut and learn as you grow. There is no one size fits all with family life so just find a way to make it work if you want to be a full time parent- there is always a way…
Months fly by in a heartbeat and precious moments you will only experience once with each child; so listen to your mother’s instinct with confidence, take time to be mindful and observant of your little one, surround yourself with support and share your maternal love with pride! You will be the best mother in the world to your little bundle- because they are going to be the best thing that’s ever happened to you!