4 Things I Learned In The First Year Of Motherhood
Nicola Cassidy from Lady Nicci tells us about the four lessons she learned in the first year of being a parent.
We did it. We made it. We got to a very special milestone and she’s still here, hanging around, pretty clean and seems to like us. Our baby is one year old. Which means we’ve been parents for a whole year and had to have learned a few things, right? Right. Well, that’s the funny thing. We have learned a lot. But not necessarily from the sources we thought we might have. Books? Nah. The internet? Okay, yes. Television? Only that it distracts the child long enough for you to have a little rest (with your eyes open).
The most important lessons we’ve learned have come from ourselves. From the time we’ve spent with our little one, to the errors and mistakes we’ve made, to realising that every child is different and what works for you, may not ever work for your little neighbour next door. Here are the top four things I’ve learned in my first year of being a mum.
1. Stop listening to everybody and don’t believe everything you read
Although I hate to admit it, what people say to me and how they judge or comment on my parenting really bothers me. Our own parents are the worst commentators. An off-hand remark here, a raised eyebrow there, a ‘where are your socks?’ question and a look at their tiny bare feet will have me doubting my skills to care for my own child. They don’t mean any harm, but their words stay with me and in the early days, often upset me.
Lesson number one: Stop listening and get on with it. Don’t dwell, they mean well. They don’t think you’re a bad parent and you are NOT a bad parent.
2. Patience is a virtue. And you have lots of it.
Parenting is a test of your mettle, or of your endurance. Of your ability to suppress your desires for the sake of others. Or just one other. Or say three others, depending on how many children you have. You will find yourself taking deep breaths, sighing, gritting your teeth and just getting on with it, as your baby whines, bites, dribbles on you, pukes and dirties the clean nappy you have just wrestled on to them. After some time, you will realise that your patience has grown. You have relaxed and things do not bother you.
Lesson number two: You have the patience of a saint. You realise that most parents have a tolerance level beyond breaking point. And that’s why you love hanging round with other mums and dads these days. They get it.
3. You and your looks are not important.
You know the way you used to love going out? And you know the way you don’t get to do that anymore? Guess what else you don’t get to do anymore? Shower. Put on clean clothes. Get to wash your clothes so that you have clean clothes. After some time of not having time to maintain yourself, you find out that not looking amazing is okay. There are more important things in your busy life than how you look. Baby doesn’t mind. Partners aren’t allowed to mind. And you may even find a new freedom, a certain joy in going au natural.
Lesson number three: There is no beauty time. None. A basic hygiene routine may come back into your life when the child is a few weeks old. Sometime after that a trip to the hairdressers may be allowed. And even when baby has matured a little and you could escape for an hour to get your nails done, you think, why bother?
4. Your mind will be very clear about what’s important.
I used to think I was busy. Then baby came along and she became and still is number one priority. The task then is how to fit everything else around her. Housework, laundry, cooking, exercise, friends, phonecalls, text messages, talking to husband. Because hours alone outside of sleeping are so rare, you become very careful about what you do with them. There is no wastage. Dawdling does not happen. Shopping trips are military exercises. And you start to cut out anything that doesn’t bring you joy or a reward of some kind. You will also take pleasure in the small things. You will realise how vital your own family and friends are. This is the most important lesson I’ve learned in my first year of being a mum.
Lesson number four: Life is precious it. Live it, enjoy it. Spend your time with friends and family. Play with baby. Visit a park. Write your diary. Don’t waste a minute.
Because if one year can go in the blink of an eye – what will the next 17 be like?