Lessons Learned

Almost 16 months in, and the lessons I’ve learned! Although, I wonder if it’s more what I already knew but just didn’t know that I knew?
Like that I can do lots of things with just one hand while the other hand holds the baby/ stops the baby flinging himself down the stairs/stops him jumping out of his high chair, and so on. I can cook whole dinners one-handed. Put on makeup, eat my lunch, make a cup of tea! Although getting to drink it is more where the challenge lies.
I always thought I was the sort of person who needs at least 8 hours of sleep a night. And I was! But of course like all new parents I went on a serious crash course of no sleep at all and now I am delighted when I get 5 hours. If I get to lie in til 7am on a Saturday it’s a result. Although I’m still crying on the inside over that one. And often on the outside too.
Another sort of trivial thing I’ve noticed since Rian was born is how the choice for girls & boys products varies so much. Things like baby clothes – there is usually twice the amount of space dedicated for girls compared to the boys section which will mainly consist of blue or grey things and that’s about it. One or two shops might have a decent selection but overall it’s pretty bad.

Turns out I’m also pretty funny. That time I scratched my nose and Rian almost fell off his chair laughing at me.. or the time I danced to a song on the radio and the poor kid could barely breathe he was laughing so hard.  But babies are fickle creatures, and if the following day I decide to treat him to a nose scratching classic he looks at me as if I have 10 heads and shoots me a look of pity, practically raising one eyebrow in the process.

But coming back to my first point, there’s a lot about myself that I didn’t know that I am discovering now. Good stuff, some not so great, but mostly good.

Rian had colic when he was born, (info here in case you’re not familiar). A result of it is hours and hours of crying, for weeks on end. It would start at about 4pm and last until maybe 1am. We tried everything you can try, and in the end, I don’t know if one of those things eventually worked or if he just grew out of it. But either way, it was a test of endurance. And we passed. We’d take it in shifts – an hour of crying for you, one for me. And crying is bad enough, but hours of crying on top of no sleep is honestly a form of torture. The poor little fella was obviously in pain and although you think you might go crazy, you don’t – it’s not his fault. But that doesn’t make it easy. Turns out, I have a lot of patience I never knew I had.

Instinct. Everyone has it of course, but learning to trust it is the thing. You know a lot more than you think you do. Those first few months are full of thoughts like ‘What the hell??’ And it’s scary! But then you remember this isn’t the first baby to appear out of nowhere, other people have figured out how to do this and so you can too. There’s lots of conflicting advice out there in loads of ways, and your own parents might have done things differently to how your health nurse is advising you to do it now, but at the end of the day, babies are the same as they’ve always been! But you know your baby better than anyone else whether its your own parent, or your GP, or health nurse giving you the advice, and you know what’s best for them so don’t doubt yourself. It’s amazing really when you have that moment of realising that in fact you DO know what you’re doing, and not only that, but you’re doing it well.

Guilt is a big feature in my life these days. Maybe that’s a direct contradiction of what I just wrote about instinct.. I suppose in a lot of ways it’s always going to be there. Especially when you do another thing you probably shouldn’t do and compare yourself to other mothers – I doubt that will ever change. But my main source of guilt is when I leave him every day to go to work. I’m among many of course who feel this way – the constant battle of wanting to go yet not wanting to go. You feel like you’re fighting a natural instinct to be there, and yet, if I could be there all day, would I choose it? It’s certainly the  hardest job I’ve ever done. But how can I compare it when it’s different now? It’s easier now at his age compared to when he was younger. Your life is sliced up into sections at the start revolving around naps and feeds. At least mine was. But now he’s older, the structure of his day is so much more flexible. The days at home are different now to what they were when I was still on maternity leave.

Or is that just because I’m appreciating it more now that I am at work 5 days a week? I leave the house at about 6.20 am. Some mornings I can hear him chatting to his teddy bears and it takes all my willpower to keep walking past his door so that I don’t miss the train to work. Even if I had the time, it would probably be worse to see him for 10 minutes and then have to leave him for the day. And then I remember that although I don’t hate my job, I need it. So although it feels like a choice to be at work, it’s not. And so you just get on with it, and make the best of the evenings and weekends, which, to be fair, are so much more fun now than they ever were before.

Although it’s a big learning curve, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had! He teaches us new things every day about all sorts of things and I can’t wait to discover the things yet to come.

*This post has also been published on HerFamily.ie

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