Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What Motherhood has Taught Me

My Angels

Of course I was a perfect mother with my first 2 kids. Well, maybe not perfect, but I did the absolute best I could, and my kids are turning out alright.

Life is full of lessons, though.  I sat down to reflect on how different motherhood is for me now, almost 13 years since I had my son.  Here are the gems that I've learned along the way.

1.  Go with the Flow & Don't Worry About a Schedule.
I am so SO much more laid back now than ever before in my life.  I let the baby sleep when she needs to sleep, eat when she needs to eat, and I do what I need to do around her timing.  Yes, sometimes this means that I don't get to shower until noon.  But I'm blessed that I don't work outside the home, so this really doesn't affect anyone else.  You would think this would make it harder to leave the house or make plans that involve anyone else.  It's not harder, it just requires a little bit of planning.  I keep a few changes of clothes and diapers in the car, and since I'm still breastfeeding, I carry her meals with me.  Since she is also eating actual baby food now, I do try to keep some prepared & ready to grab if I have to rush out the door (this part was a little harder since I make my own baby food, but with a supply of plastic to-go bowls and spoons, it's really no big deal).

2.  DON'T Keep the House Quiet at Naptime
With my first son, he got used to sleeping when it was quiet, because he was the only child. And when he slept, I slept.  When our daughter was born 7 years later , I made sure that everyone knew when she was asleep, and better not make a peep, OR ELSE!  That all went out the window with baby #3.  I noticed while we were still in the hospital that as long as she was wrapped up tight, she didn't mind laying in her bassinet and would fall asleep on her own after taking a look around the room.  The noise from the constant flow of nurses and visitors didn't bother her at all.  When we got home, I realized that as long as she was fed, had a clean diaper, and wrapped up tight, she was good to go.  She'd fall asleep and the rest of the family would go about their business.  And music calmed her, too - something loud with a good strong beat.

3.  It's OK to Let Them Fuss a Little
Picking up your baby every time they make a peep will only lead to a very clingy baby.  Now, please understand, I'm not talking full on crying or screaming.  I know it's just a natural instinct to pick up a fussy baby to soothe her...but now that I have 3 kids to care for, dinner to cook, house to clean, and homework to help with, sometimes I just can't get to the baby when she thinks that I should.  So, she sits in her high chair and waits.  She complains, but she waits.  I don't see anything wrong with this.  I'm certainly not neglecting her.  Very rarely does she get to an actual cry. Of course if she does then I will drop everything to make sure that she is alright.

4.  Nevermind the Latest & Greatest
For your first child, it's really nice to get brand new stuff.  It's all pretty, and new, and before you know it your house is filled to the brim with baby swings, seats, cribs, changing tables, and a million other things that you never knew that you needed.  But new baby equipment depreciates like a brand new car.  I really could not see spending hundreds of dollars on things that I knew  I would only use for a short time.  I was lucky to have several friends whose little one's were outgrowing their infant stuff just as I was needing it.  A baby swing, a baby bouncer, a bassinet, another bassinet (handy with a 2 story house!) all came to me for next-to- nothing, and to look at it you really couldn't tell it wasn't brand new.  It was nice because we had gotten rid of everything baby-related about a year before I got pregnant for the third time.  (We thought we were done, but God laughed at our plans, and put His plan into action).

 5.  You Really Don't Need ALL That Baby Gear Anyway
Remember what I said about house being filled to the brim with baby gear?  Well, you will quickly learn what are the absolute necessities and what you can do without.  Because we were not expecting to have a third child, we didn't have an extra bedroom for her.  So, she camped out with us for a few months until we moved into a bigger house.  We managed to squeeze a crib and a co-sleeper bassinet into our room, because I wanted to get her used to sleeping in both.  We obviously had an infant car-seat for her.  We bought 2 bases, but we never installed the second one in our "little" car because it was just too crammed with 5 of us in there.  I never got a changing table, because when I did have one before, it only served to hold the laundry that I had yet to put away.  We got a swing and vibrating bouncer seat from a friend, and we only really used them a handful of times.  Instead of a big bulky stroller to lug around, I got the one that was just the frame, and the infant seat just clicked in.  So much lighter, and so much easier on my back.  I will have to do a separate blog about my baby must-have's.

Oh, how very many times I have heard  "Enjoy them now, they grow up before you know it." 
And how very true that is.  I look at my son, and wonder how on Earth it's possible that he's going to be a teenager in a few short weeks...just yesterday I was teaching him to ride a tricycle and tomorrow I'll be teaching him to drive a car.  Seeing my 5-year old daughter doing her school work, having actual conversations with the child that it seems just learned how to talk last week.  I have learned to enjoy the time with each of my children.  And when I sit with my new baby, and look into her big blue eyes, I try to memorize every second with her, because next month, she'll be going off to college.


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