Monday Care for the Mama’s Heart // 10 Things I Learned My First Year of Parenting
This past weekend my son Roman turned one! One year ago he entered the world and made it a better place with the joy and love he shares each day. One year ago I held him in my arms for the first time and my heart melted—I was smitten. One year ago he made me a mom.
Parenting hasn’t always been what I thought it would be like. It’s been better than I could have ever imagined but it’s also been more challenging in some ways. All in all, though, it’s been one heck of a journey!
In honor of this one year celebration and reflection, I thought I might share some things I learned over the past twelve months. Maybe you’re expecting and this will give you some insight into what’s to come. Or you’re a new mama needing to know you’re not crazy. Or maybe you’ve been on the journey a few years and have your own insight to offer—please do so in the comments. Remember, we’re all in this together!
To be honest, I learned many things this year but here are the top ten lessons from my first year of parenting.
There’s no joy comparable. Nothing touches a woman's heart like being a mom. That moment you hold your baby for the first time is an explosion of happiness. But also, each day brings opportunities of joy shots right to the soul. The way they look at you, or snuggle into your arms, or learn something new--it's all full of overwhelming happiness. Being a mom truly is the best gift in the world; a gift that keeps on giving!
It’s ok to ask for help or advice. I think sometimes we feel we need to be a supermom and give the impression to others that we have it all figured out. But no mom does and you shouldn't carry such a heavy weight. Being a mom at all (because all kids are different), but especially a first time mom, brings so many questions with it. Don't be afraid to ask for help or advice. I've turned to Facebook when I was unsure of something and it's been amazing to see the support from other parents out there! Know that you don't have to, and shouldn't have to, go at it alone. We are part of the Body of Christ and the kind of community we have there is a beautiful thing.
Be careful not to parent your spouse. I'm not saying every woman does it, but I imagine it's not unusual. When we're parenting our kid all day it happens that sometimes we transfer that over to our husbands. Or think we know what's best for the kid so we try to tell the dad what to do. This act can be very damaging to your marriage and it's important you steer away from developing this habit. Here is a blog I wrote on the subject for more insight and encouragement.
You will feel failure but that’s normal. Being a mom will likely make you feel like a failure perhaps more than anything else in this world. It's because of the immense amount of love you feel for your child and the desire you have to be a wonderful mom, both of which are noble things. However, it can also lead you to be hard on yourself. Learning to manage these moments of failure will be so valuable to your journey as a mom. Here is a post I wrote on the subject if you'd like more tools on overcoming failure.
A baby is just that...a baby. Sometimes in the frustration or exhaustion we forget that we are dealing with tiny humans who have no other form of expression but crying. There have been times I've wanted to talk sense into my little one but I've had to remind myself that he's just a baby. I can't rationalize with him when he has emotions he can't understand, or when he doesn't feel well, or whatever else may be frustrating him to the point of irritability. Just remember that crying is really the only form of communication they have and try to be patient. Perspective goes a long way!
Celebrate the milestones but enjoy the time it takes to get there. Especially as a first time mom, you are always looking for and anticipating the next stage. "I can't wait til they crawl! And then walk! And then play on their own!" At least for me, I was looking forward to the next milestone out of excitement or next season because the one I was in seemed hard. But what I have found is that now I'm missing those earlier seasons and I wish I wouldn't have rushed through them so quickly. If I could encourage you, I'd say enjoy the season you're in. I've heard that before and shrugged it off but truly, you will miss what is behind. Enjoy where you are at while you can. Besides, the next milestone brings its own challenges ;)
You’re understanding of the Father deepens. It's incredible how becoming a parent changes your relationship with the Father, in a better way. Being a parent and knowing that kind of love and sacrifice gives you insight into the Father's love and strengthens a bond with Him you didn't have before.
You’re not crazy. I can't tell you how many times I thought I was the only one going through what I was going through. But then I'd be reminded in the middle of the night when I was feeding Roman in the dark that there were other mamas out there doing the same thing. Or I'd share a struggle on social media and moms would say, "Me too!" Just know you're not alone, and know that you are not crazy! We all go through hard and crazy moments as a mom...we're all in this together!
Being a mom makes you a better person. Being a mom sure does have a knack for pulling the selfishness out of you. It's a wonderful at pulling the unlovely out of you! Your flesh will fight the pruning at times but receive it, knowing God is using the challenges of motherhood to make you more like Christ. It's a wonderful school of becoming a better person.
Cherish all the moments. It flies by. Soak up ever single moment!
I hope this helps some other mamas out there. Truly, motherhood is a gift and we can cheer each other on in the journey! If you have something you’d like to add, please do so in the comments!
P.S. Here are a few pictures from his birthday, in case you're interested!