Things My Firstborn is Teaching Me
I've found that some of the best material for blog posts comes from experiences, specifically ones that tend to "shake-up" my normal routine. There were things that I learned from being in India, and things I learned from living in Canada, and the theological insight gleaned from having a new puppy. It seems only fitting to create another new list based on my latest adventure of being a new mom.
The Ten Commandments of New Parenting
- Thou Shalt Embrace the Words "I don't know": Self-explanatory. Even at 6 weeks old, Nora and I are still getting to know each other. I'm not always going to know what she needs (I'm convinced she doesn't always know what she needs) and incorporating those words into my daily vernacular from the beginning cleared out all expectations of perfection and made a lot more room for grace.
- Remember Self-Care Time and Keep it Holy: Precious as she may be, this girl can sometimes wear me right out. If I'm not making time to do the things I need to do for my own mental health, than I'm going to be of little use to my baby and my husband when they really need me. This means taking a bath every now and then, listening to podcasts, blogging, reading, driving without anyone else in the car or going on a walk. Binge-watching Netflix and staying in sweatpants all day is not self-care. Google searching cute baby outfits or nursery ideas is not self-care. Grocery shopping is not self-care (unless that's your thing in which case, no judgement) Those things have their place in life, but do not count as a life-giving practices. It's easy to get sucked into a baby-only bubble where tiny human things are all I talk and think about. I'm learning to give myself permission to care for the "me" that existed before I became a mom.
- Thou Shalt Not Worry About Thy Chores: The dishes, the laundry, the unmade bed...those things can wait until I have taken care of #2. Or maybe I pick 1 or 2 from the list of chores and save the rest for another day. #balance
- Thou Shalt Make Time for Thy Marriage: Dillon and I are both head-over-heels for our little bean-pod, but we keep reminding ourselves that we were head-over-heels for each other first. When she was just a week old, we shared her with my parents for a few hours and Dillon and I went out to lunch, just the two of us. It was helpful to make space where we could focus solely on each other. We needed to check in with how we were adjusting to our new normal and to eat a meal at the same time, sans kinder. In order for us to raise our babies well, we need to make sure our marriage is a priority. Sweet texts, a date night out, painting a room together, each day it looks a bit different, but it all matters greatly.
- Thou Shalt Enlist Thy Partner: This little-diddy is a sweet compliment to #4. When he's home, Dillon usually changes the diapers and spends time with the baby while I make dinner. It's a restful time for both of us where we get to shift our focus for a bit. We give her baths together and at-night, he usually puts her to bed (unless she gives us a run for our money, in which case we tag-team in 30 minute intervals). It's important for me and Dillon and Nora to see fatherhood of equal importance in parenting. She's as much his baby as she is mine and her depending on him is important for all of us.
- Thou Shalt Choose Thy Battles: Very few people are able to keep the house clean, make the healthy meals, balance the checkbook, visit the friends, go on the walks, bathe and do all the things. I've had to determine what is necessary and what can wait for another day (see #2 for clarification...if it keeps you sane, it gets priority). Everything else should be outsourced or taken off your radar. Know your limits.
- Thou Shalt Hold Loosely to Thy Plans: Make plans, go out, try to be present, and when all else fails and you are simply too tired or things are a bit too chaotic to make it all work, let it go. If need be, blame it on the baby. Babies make the cutest excuses.
- Honor Thy Leggings as Suitable Leg-wear: As far as I am concerned, as long as your rear-end is covered, leggings count as pants. Very few women effortlessly fit into their pre-pregnancy pants just moments after D-day and no one has time to go shopping for new jeans, much less is able to maneuver trying them on and then going to find another size all with baby in-tow. Wear the leggings...just make sure to cover your backside.
- Thou Shalt Find NO Shame in Take-out: Determining the best restaurants within a 5 mile radius is key to a happy and well-fed family. Remember, self-care gets priority...and make sure they deliver.
- Thou Shalt Keep Going: Before we were parents, Dillon and I had made the conscious decision of integrating our kids into our activities. So far, this has meant New Years Eve parties, trips to Lowe's, lunches out, and most recently, a trip to Canada. With littles, most of life's activities will seem "inconvenient", but we've decided to keep going, As important as it is to set limits and choose your battles, it is equally important to make plans and venture out. We're hoping that starting this pattern early on will allow Nora and any future kiddos to become adaptable and to allow our family to have a more integrated life where we do things together more than we do them apart.
So there are a few of my personal revelations gleaned from the unscripted life of being a new parent.
What parenting truths have you adopted?