My daughter's first birthday is fast approaching, and I've been reflecting on my first year of motherhood lately. It's been an incredible journey, and one I wouldn't change for the world. But I have learned a few things over the past 11 months, and I thought I'd share some of those things with you.
You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't when you're a parent
The thing I've found is that you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't when you're a mum. There are always going to be people who disagree with the decisions you make for your child or children.
I recently waded into a discussion around sleep training (what a bad idea) on a mum's forum I'm in, and basically got told I was emotionally damaging my child and a bad mum for doing it. The thing is, those people slinging mud at me online had NO idea about how we approached the sleep training, nor did they want to hear it.
They were so extremely set in their opinions, they refused to even look at someone else's point of view. And there is where the heart of mum shaming lies, if you ask me. An unwillingness to consider other people's situations or approaches.
You've got to let stuff slide
Yeah, this one is really hard for me. I'm a bit of a control freak, and I like things to be done just so. That includes mealtimes. Some nights my daughter has toast for dinner, and I'm starting to be okay with that. When we're eating something that doesn't really suit her, I'll give her some toast, some yoghurt and something else. And you know what? She's totally fine, she's fed and I feel a little bit less stressed.
I'm also fairly militant about my daughter's naps, mainly because both my husband and I need to sleep at night to be able to function at work the next day and we find that nights can go pear shaped if naps don't go well. But I've learned that some days naps just don't go well. Maybe she'll be teething or the dog will bark when she's only been asleep 20 minutes. I've just learned to adapt a little bit and let it slide if they day sleep doesn't go well. We'll try again tomorrow, all is not lost.
Time goes fast and slow at the same time
It's so weird, do you find this? My daughter's birth feels both like yesterday and like a lifetime ago. I feel like her first year has gone so fast, but also it feels like she has just always been a part of our family. When I think back to the newborn days, the memories are hazy. They have a shimmery edge to them like they're not quite real. Maybe sleep deprivation does that? Or maybe it's because of a year of lockdowns and a pandemic.
Milestones aren't worth stressing over
I'm still learning to not obsess over milestones, but I'm a lot better than I used to be. I would stress about her not crawling, not standing, not babbling. But she did all those things in her own time. What I didn't realise is that she was working on other things, like developing her pincer grip (a godsend at mealtimes!) or strengthening her core.
It's all too easy to compare your baby to other babies, and what they're doing or how they're growing. All the apps and articles lead us to believe that babies are robots, that they all develop in a linear fashion and in the same way. Wrong. Babies are individuals, just like we are. They have their own interests, their own strengths and weaknesses. And that is okay. You're no less of an amazing mum just because your baby doesn't crawl and your bestie's baby does. They're just doing their own thing, in their own time.
What are some important lessons you learned in your first year of motherhood? Or in subsequent years?