Monday, May 17, 2010

Mothering: What I've Learned So Far

Wow.  That title kind of sounds like I'm writing a memoir or something, but it's the best I could come up with.  But, I digress.  First of all, I want to say that I am by no means an expert, nor do I make that claim.  If anything, parenting makes me feel dumber by the day.  I've only done this blessed of all jobs for almost 15 months now, but as I scrambled to get chores done during Els' morning nap today, I began thinking about advice people gave me at one of the showers before she was born.  One woman's advice in particular is the piece that I come back to over and over in my mind.  She said, "Stop reading parenting books now.  I decided when my first child was born to mother just like my mother did.  To just love my children and rock them to sleep."  (My paraphrase.)

The first major thing I've learned is to stop comparing myself and my child to others.  While that sounds like the high road, it's mainly so that I don't go crazy.  Which I did for a long time, reading other mom's facebook statuses about how their child slept 14 hours straight at 6 weeks or how they had lost all of the baby weight by that time too.  Neither were true for us and I spent a long time feeling like a terrible mother and a terrible person because of those facts.  So, I decided to stop comparing and start enjoying my little girl for who she is and come to grips with myself as a mother.  (Which meant, among other things, carrying around extra weight for months. And months.)  Since I have decided this, I have been so much happier.

One of the biggest lessons I've learned about bringing up a baby so far is to not get too comfortable in any stage because, as soon as I do, it's going to change.  In the first year, Els would sleep through the night for two weeks and then stop for a month.  She would nap well for a month and then scream through naps for three weeks.  Now, it tends to be food that we cycle through stages with.  She loves bananas at breakfast and hates them at lunch time.  She gobbles down what we have for dinner one night and won't touch it for lunch the next day.  You get the point.  B reminds me all the time that she's just a little person.  He says, "You don't always sleep good do you?  We don't always want to eat the same thing for every meal.  Why should we expect Els to be a little robot and do the same things all the time?"  He's so great at common sense.  

Last, (for now because this is getting long) is never say never.  It's something my mom has always told us.  Right now, that mainly refers to feeding Els as well.  I never wanted to be the parent that fed her children hot dogs and mac-n-cheese.  Oh boy, but if that's the only thing I can get this crazy girl to eat, that's what I feed her.  One day, she'll like "good" food.  And at some meals now, she does.

So, there are my three cents for now.  Most of all, I've learned to cling to my Heavenly Father through all of this.  He's the only way to make it through any day and parenting makes that highly evident.

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