Top 10 things I’ve learned in the first year. . .

I’m finally done with all my work for summer classes {Hallelujer!}, and I have a minute to catch my breath.

So, birthday party prep is in full swing. Both my boys have August birthdays, and I was reminded of this fact when Adam got his free drink birthday coupon from Starbucks in the mail today. I did apologize to him for letting my mental planning of L’s birthday completely overshadow his.

It’s true. I’ve been thinking a lot about Mr. Boy’s upcoming big day and his first year in general. It’s been such a fast year. Such a good year. A year full of love and learning. So, without further adieu, here are the top 10 things I’ve learned in this first year of motherhood {while it’s fresh on my mind}.

1. “This too shall pass” is a phrase to imprint on your brain during the first year. When you feel like you’ll never sleep for a solid 8 hours ever again . . .this too shall pass. When you’re convinced you’ll never ever get back into your old skinny jeans {or anything other than pajama pants for that matter}. . .this too shall pass. When you feel like you can’t handle one more nap time battle of letting him “cry it out”. . .this too shall pass. I’m murmuring this phrase to myself even now as we struggle through the horrors  difficulties of weaning, and I’m sure I will continue to be encouraged by it through challenging seasons in the future. The truth is that challenges will always come. The good news is that most of them eventually pass. You just have to ride them out while trying to savor and enjoy both the trials and blessings of each fleeting season.

2. Breastfeeding is the most convenient and inconvenient way to feed your child. Once you and baby finally get the hang of it, nursing is the most convenient thing in the world. It’s so great to never have to get up and heat a bottle in the night or pack formula for “on the go.” You never have to worry about measuring amounts or washing bottles, not to mention you save about 800-1000 bucks on formula. And of course, the bonding factor. It’s something that no one can give baby but you. Then, there’s the flip-side. I won’t lie, those first few awkward weeks of figuring out nursing were complete torture {at least for me}. Besides the engorgement and pain from incorrect latching, it’s extremely inconvenient to get out of the house every now and then {which I desperately needed to do} and find a comfortable and PRIVATE place to nurse. Especially when the only place you really feel comfortable nursing is behind your locked bedroom door. In time, though, you move past that. I wouldn’t even nurse in front of my mother-in-law when L was first born. At the end of his first year, I can say that I’ve nursed in numerous cars, dressing rooms, and public bathroom floors. I’ve nursed with my brother and dad in the room. I’ve nursed for 30 minutes standing up in a bathroom. Heck, I’ve nursed on a bench in the middle of the Birmingham airport. All this to say, there are pros and cons to breastfeeding. You just have to do what works for you. I hope the experience gained will make my second go-round a little easier!

3. Regardless of the way you dress your child, people will call him/her the wrong gender. L could be wearing a blue outfit with trains on it and someone would stop me in the grocery store and say, “Well, isn’t she just beautiful!” Hello, people. Open you eyes.

4. Dress little boys the way you want now because it won’t be long until they want to wear Power Rangers and Angry Birds and such. I fought my husband tooth and nail on this one, but we eventually came to somewhat of a compromise {He would prefer that I dress L in a button-down and khaki pants like a little man}. The agreement is that  I can put L in sweet little smocked things (and day gowns when he was newborn) as long as they’re blue or somewhat “boyish.” I just had to promise not to put him in anything frilly or white or dress-like.

5. Speaking of clothes, one tiny addition to the family will triple the laundry. Invest in LOTS of Shout or Oxiclean {and burp cloths & bibs}. I’d be interested to know how much time I’ve spent stain treating clothes this year.

6. Getting peed on, pooped on, and spit-up on doesn’t bother you nearly as much with you own child as it did with children you were babysitting before you had your own. Adam and I both agree that we have greater measures of tolerance for all bodily functions with L than we did with other kids before L. Explosive poop all over you? You deal with it. Third time to wash the sheets in one week? Not the end of the world. Actually, I think you have a great measure of patience in all areas with your own.

7. Just getting out the house can be the best treatment for a long, hard day. Sometimes the best thing to do for a restless, screaming baby {or a stir crazy mama}is to get out of the house! Getting out the door with a baby on your own can be a challenge, but it’s worth it. Adam works a lot, which means L and I are home alone a lot. My goal is to get out once each day, even if we don’t really have anywhere to go but Target, Panera, or the park. It always lifts both our moods {especially when we meet up with friends}!

8. Having a hobby, activity, or goal completely separate from motherhood is good for stay-at-home mama. Don’t misunderstand me here. There is nothing I’d rather do than stay home with my baby. I truly believe that no career would be as fulfilling to me.  But let’s be realistic. There are days when it’s all consuming and I just need a mental {or physical} break. . . something different to focus my energy on. . . something to help me keep the right perspective when I’m overwhelmed with housework and mothering. Taking classes has done this for me. Even though it’s work, it’s different work. It’s a goal to work toward that’s completely separate from motherhood, and it helps me feel purposeful and goal-oriented to continue to work toward my degree. There are many things that could serve this purpose when I’m done with classes, though. Teaching or participating in a Bible study, taking an art class, volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center, or doing more distance running again would all be options I would enjoy.

9. Running with a stroller is twice as hard as running without it. This is my excuse for being really slow about getting back into my running {I do a lot more fast-walking these days}. It’s true, though! I have great respect for those moms I see jogging at the park with double and triple strollers. It’s seriously hard.

10. A child fills a place in your heart that you never knew was empty. This {somewhat cheesy} little saying is hanging in L’s nursery, and it’s so true. I never imagined I had room in my heart to love someone so much. Literally, there are moments when my heart feels so full that I think it may burst. I never knew I would find joy and excitement in such seemingly small things. . . my baby laying his head on my shoulder and sucking his thumb, hearing him saying “da-da” for the first time, having him melt me with his smile. Yes, there have been really hard moments this first year, but those moments are worth it. I think the main thing I’ve learned this year is that a child is truly a gift. A very, very precious gift from God.

{P.S. When I asked Adam the number one thing he learned during this first year, he thought for a second and replied, “Patience is a virtue!” :)}


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