Friday, June 24, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday: Things I've Learned About Motherhood Edition

Congratulations to Jen at Conversion Diary on the birth of her fifth child, a sweet baby girl!  Since she just had her baby on Wednesday, the lovely Betty Beguiles is hosting Quick Takes this week.  Head on over to check out her blog about modesty, fashion, and romance!

My daughter is turning one next Wednesday.  In honor of her first birthday, I'm dedicating this Quick Takes to seven things I've learned about motherhood during the past year.

1. Every mother is different, and that's okay.
My daughter and I spend most of our time at home, just the two of us.  But, especially now that the weather's nice, we sometimes venture out to playgroups, storytimes, and other mommy/baby outings.  And for all the solidarity and camaraderie among the moms, I'm always struck by the differences, too.  There are as many parenting styles out there as there are parents, and as a young, insecure mama, it's taken me some time to accept that and feel confident in my own style.  Not to say that I'm perfect and couldn't stand to learn from other (especially veteran) mothers -- I certainly could -- and not to say that I won't continue to battle insecurity -- I certainly will -- but I think I have a much better handle on the landscape of mothering styles now than I did a year ago.

2. No matter how dedicated I am to not wasting food, my baby is still going to throw puffs on the floor and refuse the second bite of a bowlful of yogurt.
My husband and I rarely throw any food out.  I always feel guilty if I allow something to spoil or mold, or if I mess up a recipe so badly that the finished product is inedible.  The baby, however, has no concerns about wasting food.  A day doesn't go by that finger foods aren't chucked onto the dirty floor, and I can't tell you how many times I've used a clean spoon to dole out a helping of yogurt, fed her a bite, introduced her mouth germs into the yogurt bowl as I get another spoonful, and had that spoon shoved away.  Done, Mom!  And the rest of the forsaken yogurt cannot be saved.  Sigh.  I've learned to portion out very small helpings to combat the amount of wasted food, and sometimes I'll finish her food for her. :)

3. Breastfeeding difficulties do not make me a failure as a mother.
I've already written about this, and I don't want to completely rehash my previous post.  But I would like to show you something.
This photo was taken when my daughter was 2 days old.  I did not protest, but I secretly did not want it to be taken, and I have never shared it with anyone until now.  There I am, feeding my little newborn pumped milk through a bottle...feeling like a fail-mom.  Don't be fooled by my smile.  I was mortified.  I'd been determined to breastfeed since many years before I became pregnant, and there I was, bottlefeeding my brand-new baby. 
Looking back, I realize that I should not have felt that way AT ALL.  I will have a million opportunities to fail as a mother -- moments when I give in to anger, impatience, laziness, and any number of other vices.  Navigating the world of breastfeeding challenges is not one of those moments, and I wish I would have embraced that fact from the beginning.

4. It's amazing how high my tolerance for things like spit up and poop has become.
I don't think I need to expound upon that one.

5. It's okay to have a messy house.
This lesson has been asserting itself more and more as my baby has grown.  She's been crawling for over four months, she is just staring to walk, and she loves to get into everything.  We have most of her books and toys arranged in our living room, and every day, she completely ransacks the area.  We used to "reset the stage" (borrowed from Lindsy) every night; now we only do it every few nights.  It's simply an exercise in futility. 
A before-and-after shot.  Note especially how few books are left on the left of the ledge...since they're strewn all over the floor.
Yesterday morning, Maren's three wonderful kids (aged 6.5, 5, and 1) visited while she was getting her wisdom teeth out.  When her husband came in to pick them up, he was horrified by the scene, and asked his two older kids to tidy up.  I felt a little guilty about that, because, as I explained to him, the vast majority of the mess was created by my own kid.  At least 90%.
Speaking of Maren, she recently wrote an excellent post on inviting friends over even when our homes are messy.  Check it out!

6. Even though having a baby has drastically reduced our alone time, it has also deepened the love and strengthened the bond between my husband and me more than I ever could have imagined.
I had a hunch on our first date that my husband would be a fantastic father (to be honest, it was because of how sweetly he interacted with a friend's dog, haha!), and he has exceeded my expectations in every possible way.  His incredible support and love as a spouse have been constant throughout our marriage, but even more obvious since the birth of our daughter.

7. I will never be able to describe the love that I have for my child.  I will never be able to comprehend how God could have blessed me so abundantly.
But He did.  And I am so, so thankful.

4 comments:

  1. Love the mini-Elise pics! A whole year ago..wow!

    I feel like I should also rehash some breastfeeding woes in response to your #3, but pleasantly I'm surprised to find I have no more regrets now that things are going so swimmingly now. It feels nice. As I'm sure you know. :)

    I also need to admit a bit shamefully that I've wondered what Elise's mess looked like when it started out. Having seen the pics of her amidst the chaos, I was morbidly curious what the clean version looked like. ;)
    Sometimes I feel my like "clean" version doesn't feel clean to me. It looks more like still a mess, merely piled up in one corner. I love your clean version, though! It looks like it's just *waiting* for a bouncy toddler to explore!

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  2. Happy Birthday Elise! :)

    #3 : for real. I learned that one quickly!

    I love, love that last picture. She is a delightful little girl who just loves life! You are so blessed.

    Have a good weekend friend. :)

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  3. This post makes me extremely happy. Your daughter is so beautiful! :)

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