Friday, April 4, 2014

What I've learnt in my first year of parenting.

So, over the weekend my little ball of chub graduated from babyhood to toddlerhood and turned one. Personally I feel that makes me parenting expert and more then adequate to pass out my excellent advice, what with my child having matted hair and a mild addiction to Peppa Pig and all...

So here is what I've realised over the course of a year:

Things won't go to plan, and you will be all the more grateful when they do: Everything from trips to the supermarket to trips to different countries, it will all go wrong. Your child will poo, you will have forgotten to pack nappies and there will be no where near enough stuffed toys to keep her occupied. It's not just travel, it will all go wrong, all the time, but you will learn to adapt. You will learn to cope and you will learn to think on your feet, as well as cherish the moments when things do go to plan. They are rare, and they are magical.

It's hard: Before having a child I was so very career orientated, I worked several jobs at a time from interning at fashion festivals and magazines to working every single music related shin dig in Perth and I still managed to photograph daily and keep down a restaurant job. I thought I was busy at 18, but no where near as busy as I am now with a toddler and a work at home job. It's exhausting, there are days where I can barely find time to get out my robe let alone make myself look human. It's not that it's a physically demanding job, and even particularly intellectually demanding, it's just tiring. You're raising a tiny, blob whose permanently attached to your boob 24/7 into someone you can be proud to shove into the world, and it take's a lot out of you. Not to mention the changes to your body (which isn't really yours anymore...) the never ending guilt over the juggling act of working and parenting and the complete lack of "you" time or lovey dovey time. IT IS HARD, but so, so worth it. 

Trust your instincts: You will learn over time that your mothering instincts are a fantastic thing and to home in on them will give you great power. Sure, they're not always right, and on the odd occasion you might have a melt down regarding whether your child really ate that camera SD card or you lost it amongst the pile of laundry that is your room, but for the most part they will serve you well.
You will become stronger then you ever imagined:
Not physically strong (although constantly picking up a baby before it eats dirt again can give you pretty great muscle tone) but emotionally strong. You will become stubborn, independent and fierce, you will have to. Not only will you scrutinise your every decision, but sadly so will others. You will learn that strength not only comes from getting up at 2am to change the nappy, but allowing your partner a well deserved sleep in even though your exhausted (and possibly a little more deserving...)

It's a thankless task: no one says thank you for creating and bringing up a responsible member of society, quite the opposite I said before, you will be judged. From minute decisions to the big ones, people will have an opinion, but you will learn to handle it. Not to mention the fact your child will not realise how much you had to do and sacrifice for him/her, and when finally do, they will be far to proud to admit it. You will be the person your child relies one constantly, from feeds to bed time, you will be on call 24/7 and you will never be told thank you, but that will be ok, because when you see them walk for the first time or call out mamma you will melt into a puddle of love and never need anything more.

Do what works for you: no two kids are the same and no two circumstances are either. Things will inevitably be different between you and your mum buddies and that's ok. So what if your kid doesn't talk yet and only eats grass? Or your cousins mothers brothers neighbours newborn slept through the night at 2 weeks and never co-slept? Do what works for you and don't be afraid to admit it, parenting doesn't come with a set of guidelines for a good reason.

Pintrest worthy moments do exist: I don't mean creating a false life to please the internet or that creating a perfect vintage inspired birthday party makes you a good mum, but the little moments like when the first thing you see in the morning is your newborns chubby smiling face or your toddler whose learnt to escape mid nappy change. These are moments we take for granted everyday, the moments we've been blessed with and occasionally cursed. They will be over in a blink of an eye and despite how challenging they are, you will miss them.

Compromise and pick your battles: Sometime's compromise is in order. So your child want's to play outside while you work, sometime's to avoid power struggles why don't you just set up in the sunshine? or make peace with the fact your child is probably not going to eat those mushy green trees you call broccoli tonight, and just try again tomorrow? compromise will save you many a tantrum and possibly a few nights free of mummy guilt. 

It's ok to feel frustrated: you will have days where you want to explode with frustration. Where dishes are left undone and your child looks more like she's been raised by wolves then two perfectly capable humans and you can't remember the last time you showered alone. It will be frustrating and that is ok, as long as you child is fed and loved, they won't care much either.

So this is a little of what I've learnt. It's been an interesting time filled with tears, cuddles and a huge, incomparable love, I am so lucky to have met my Lilly-Mary and to have her in my life. She has made me a better person in so many ways.

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