Marina is almost 13 months old, and in that short amount of time, so much has changed in my life. Every month of that first year as a parent is different; you go from sleep issues to breastfeeding issues, to solid food issues to nap issues to crawling, back to sleep issues, then to walking… it never stays the same. My body, my schedule, and my habits have changed dramatically, but like any mother would say, it’s worth it. That little munchkin who keeps you up at night is also the one whose cuddles you crave, whose sloppy kisses you beg for, and whose first words and first steps make you scream with delight. I wanted to share with you what I learned in my first year of Motherhood, and hope that it resonates with some of you mothers or soon-to-be-mothers out there as well. Please also feel free to share what you’ve learned in the comments section as well!
5 Things I learned in my first year of Motherhood
#1 Stop, Relax, Marvel
I had very little expectations on motherhood because I didn’t want to set myself up for failure, but it has surpassed all of my hesitations with flying colors. I never went into parenthood thinking I was having a baby, I thought, I’m having an adult. The baby stage is so short lived, the toddler stage goes by quickly… the stage they will be at the longest is adulthood, and I just didn’t want to worry myself with all of the muss and fuss of a baby because I realize that everything is so short-lived. That said, I know not every parent’s journey is the same, and I know that many people have a tougher mental experience, a tougher economic experience, and a tougher CHILD. But for me, I try not to worry about Marina getting too many germs, or eating the wrong thing, or not reading enough books, or how much screen time they have or ‘shoot they barfed on me’ or whatever nonsense parents stress about. It’s NO BIG DEAL. Babies have survived for centuries with a lot less than what they have now. Just look at your baby, laugh with them, and enjoy the world through their eyes. I promise it’s better than stressing.
#2 I Need Help
This takes a lot for me to admit because I like to think I can do everything. But after the first few weeks of having Marina, when Mr. R went back to work and started traveling again… it was very difficult to do anything productive during the day. When I had Marina I didn’t have any clear plans for childcare, assuming I would just be able to figure it out. After about week 6, my mind changed quickly and I hired a nanny for 2 days a week, and I will never go back. Yes, it’s expensive. But I had no hope of making my career happen without those 2 days, so it was really my one and only option. Once Marina started getting more mobile, things got even harder for me (no more time in her swing!) and I had to ask my parents for a few hours a week as well. I really don’t think I could get my work done without making these decisions, and I don’t think for one second, that I should be spending more time with her. It’s important for her to spend time with other people, and it’s important for me to be all in when I’m with her, not half ass playing while looking at my computer.
#3 But also, I can do it
I never really gave in to the whole, “I don’t even have time to shower” thing. If I don’t shower, it’s because I’m working, not because of Marina. If there is something that you need to do, you can almost always do it with the baby. Showering? Bring them in! Laundry? Great, fold each item one by one and tell them what item it is and what color “This is daddy’s blue sock“- and then they will want to help you and do these chores together! Need to do 20 minutes of emails? Tell them that this is the time to play with their blocks while mommy works, and after some time, they will get it. We don’t give babies enough credit- they pick up on things quickly, as long as you show them.
Motherhood also forces you to become crazy efficient in all the other aspects of your life. You learn to combine the errands into one day, maybe even at one or 2 shopping centers to avoid going in and out of the car 15 times. You realize you can listen to podcasts or catch up with friends on walks. You find ways to have the baby feed themselves so that you use the strapped-in-high-chair time to cook more meals or clean up. And most importantly, you cut out all the nonsense. Time is limited, so there is no lallygagging at the mall, there are no wasted phone conversations, comparative shopping (just pick one), there is no time for paying bills (get that automated people!). Nap time? Get to work! After 13 months I am actually shocked by how much time I used to waste, and how much more I am able to do with less time these days. Yes, every few weeks I feel stressed about the amount of work I have to do, but then I go back to realization #1 and know that if I can’t make it happen, then I should at least be in the moment with my child.
In my first year of motherhood, parenting has surprisingly brought about a whole new level of confidence for me. Because of #3, I now think to myself, hey, I’m good at this! I can do this! I go through confidence lows in my career and my blog, but never as a mother. Securing a brand deal or filming a video may stress me out, but not what Marina is going to eat for dinner, or not that she is crying non-stop in the car (actually, this is my best trait. I have an innate ability to mute out the crying and the screaming, especially since we are weaning off the pacifier). And that feels great. For the first time, it feels like something I was meant to do. And truthfully I did not know if that was the case during pregnancy!
#5 I am a multi-faceted person, not only a Mother
This one is the most important. Everyone says it’s important not to lose yourself as a parent, to forget what your own hobbies are or your friends or your goals. But it can be easy to fall into that trap. With this blog, I had a huge uptick in engagement and partnerships right after Marina was born, for the first 3 months, because everyone likes to capitalize on cute newborns. But then things started to fall away, and I felt very confused about what was happening. I started to doubt my career, my blog, and my relationships. For a short time, being a ‘Mom’ was my main draw, and I forgot about all the other things I love and stand behind. I made decisions that didn’t feel like me, I started getting desperate, and I lost my voice.
About 2 months ago I was at a serious low in my career confidence, and only recently have I started to climb myself out of that hole. Oftentimes my career feels so insignificant in contrast to being a mother, that I wonder why I’m doing it at all. I truly believe that motherhood is the hardest job of all, but now I also know that working for yourself is the second hardest… especially when you are doing both. So, only recently have I made this last realization to make sure I re-prioritize my hobbies, my passions and my business, for Marina, and myself.