Raise your hand if you are a total Type A. Come join me friends! Let’s dive into our crazy together.
One piece of advice I was given before having my daughter that I knew would be true, but still decided to fight anyway: Let go of things you cannot control. Really this is solid advice for anyone. Which is why pretty pictures with this quote scrawled across them are constantly flooding my Facebook feed. Cliche, yet true. So annoying.
This has been the hardest part of being a parent. I want to control absolutely everything and micromanage it all. Everything. It makes my teeth ache when things don’t happen as I want them to. As a first time mom, I read all the books, all the blog sites, all the recommended sleep schedules, feeding ideas, toy ideas. All. Of. It.
You can try to control it all, ohhhh how you can try. I did. I still do. I’d classify myself as a recovering control freak / people pleaser. I read all the books so I would have all the tools to control how everything progressed with my daughter. If you seasoned mom’s are laughing at that statement, go right ahead. I now see how preposterous it is as well. I read so I could make sure I did everything “right”. Wouldn’t want Kathy Nobody to think I’m a bad mom if I’m following my mothers intuition and doing things my own way!
Here’s what happened when I tried to continuously pigeon hole my daughter into the molds of infancy the books laid out. I lost my ever loving mind one day at a time. “Eat. Play. Sleep.” I recited it like a mantra and felt like crap when it never worked for us. Yet I kept trying and kept trying. Constantly feeling this little cloud of disapproval over my shoulder. Waiting for the imaginary fairy who determines whether or not you are a good mom to smite me.
Then something happened, very slowly. I mean very, very slowly. I started to realize and notice some mom’s around me, in person and in online groups, seemed to be at ease with motherhood. HOW? How are you not in a constant state of stress? Then I noticed something else. They all had something in common. They all followed their intuition. They all listened to and let their hearts guide them when caring for their children. They don’t care if they are doing things differently. They don’t care if Betty is judging them. If their children are happy, healthy and thriving, why should they? Lightbulb moment for this first time mom.
Over the past several months I’ve started to become more confident and less obsessed with control. I’ve gradually begun to release the notion that I have to do things the way the books dictate. I follow my intuition and my daughters lead. Of course I provide structure and routine. It would be impossible for me to completely forgo this (recovering control freak, remember?). But within our routines I allow for flexibility and change.
Maybe today we’ll take two naps, maybe tomorrow we’ll take one. I have completely let go of the sleep expectations. From day one we have struggled. I did not have that newborn that slept all the time. This has always been (and still can be) the biggest trigger for me. Probably in part because the second the umbilical cord is cut, everyone and their great Aunt is asking you if your child is sleeping through the night. Do you see the bags under my eyes and my oily mom bun? Obviously not Karen.
I’ve gradually begun to just freaking roll with whatever Adaline throws at me. Sleep can still be a struggle. Steadily, I’ve started to not dread bedtimes and nighttime. Part of this is because I’ve embraced the fact that I LOVE having my daughter sleep in bed with me. Yup. I said it. Our typical routine includes having her fall asleep in her crib at night. During this time I get some work done and shower once it’s gotten to the point I can’t go another day without one. When she wakes up, I bring her into bed with me. It makes any other nighttime wake-ups so much quicker and easier. I simply plop out a boob. She nurses and rolls back over to sleep. She also sleeps longer stretches next to me. Am I recommending you do this? No. Figure out what works for you. That’s the take home point of this post.
I talk about sleep, but this goes for everything. Eating. Maybe you want to do baby lead weaning, maybe you want to start with purees. Follow your gut, what is it telling you will work with your child? Leisure activities, clothing, toys, anything you can think of. Quit trying to live up to everyone’s expectations. They are not raising your child. Different does not mean wrong. What we do with Adaline, we may not do with our next child. Every child is different, so I don’t see why we have this notion that we must treat them all the same. It is absolute ludicrous. I only wish I had understood this months and months and months ago.
What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned since being a mom?