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A year and a bit a parent :5 unexpected lessonsNovember 14, 2015

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Parenthood changed and fractured our lives, grew our hearts and pushed our limits.

Those parties back before the weather turned bitter are just memories and pinholes in the ceiling. New toys are eclipsed by Christmas gifts. Our little chaps bypassed those milestones and his personality shines through more and more each day. I look back to recall so many things parenthood now means that it didn’t before. So here are my 5 unexpected lessons from year one and a bit beyond.

1. How to do laundry
With daily loads to hit the machine I suppose this was predictable. I’ve learnt to hand wash clothes, how to really use the different settings on the washing machine, how clothes that have tags saying 40 degrees can sometimes be washed at 90, and how jars of baby food stain for life. No longer shall I find a single wash cycle that works and stick with it.

2. Nobody really knows
I think most parents discover that all the advice in the world is not a manual. Parenting is as diverse as it gets and that helpless feeling you get, especially in the very early days, is totally normal. Even if you think you know something you probably will laugh at your confidence in weeks to come.

3. Being eclipsed is not always OK
Most of the time parenting means taking a back seat, it skews priorities, demands attention, and laughs at the notion of alone time. It may come as part of the package but it’s not healthy to lose all anchors but your child, fighting for individuality is not selfish but necessary.

4. Live in the moment not the drama
Drama is exhausting, planning the future or re-living angst is simply not worth the battery power. All our best buys have been for present needs, many of our mistakes have come from trying to forward plan. Appreciate the moment, be it chaos or silence, moments are fleeting, especially in the early years, and not being in them fully is missing out of so much.

5. Your own childhood will be a reference book
We forget great chunks of our early years but what remains influences our parenthood style greatly. I found myself making the food I remember tasting as a child, singing the nursery rhymes and craving the same story books that left our family bookshelves decades ago. Equally we are daily weaving legacies for our child in each actions we do.

Overall, I’ve learnt to strive to be the mummy I am, not the mummy I, or anyone else for that matter, imagines I may be.

A year is so fleeting and before I got to hit publish it was long over. The lessons I now value are probably not the same as those I would have shared 6 months ago. Daily we watch Adam change and grow, his confidence, it agility and dexterity, his lengthening limbs and facial expressions. It’s easy to see him change, but his change is in ways a mirror of our own, for parenting must too be a process of change. I suspect the lessons of year 2 are likely to be totally different and such an adventure to explore.

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