The Life Not My Own

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Not Just a Mommy

I’ve lived my whole life watching women become moms, only to suddenly neglect their husbands, themselves, and everything else.  My mom always encouraged us to not be one of those women.  I myself had determined to not be the woman whose life revolves solely around being a mom.  Sometimes, however, the best laid plans and intentions fall through.

What I never accounted for was how easy it would be to fall into the trap of making “mommy” your only identity.  The last six weeks have been full and rich, but they’ve revolved mostly around one cute little baby.  Miles commands my attention almost 24/7.  He needs me to feed him, clothe him, bathe him, change his diapers, and hold him.  When he’s having a hard time sleeping, he needs me to bounce him until he finally drifts off.  Plus, let’s face it, I just love holding him, talking to him, and playing with him.  Before you know it, everything else I’ve ever been fades into the background as my life begins to center more-and-more on my sweet baby boy.

But that’s not the way it’s meant to be.  I’ve always firmly believed, and still do, that my marriage should come before my children.  If my husband and I do not have a firm foundation, then how can I expect to be a good parent to my children?  And then there’s everything else that God’s created me to be…the little passions he’s placed in me.  How can I abandon those?

It’s not that being a mommy isn’t important.  It’s an amazing calling, and a huge responsibility.  I stay at home to be a mommy to my little boy.  It’s important to treasure and spend time with your little ones!

And yet, as my mom encouraged me the other day:  I’m not just a mommy.  Let’s be honest…how many of us moms no longer put the effort into looking cute?  How infrequent has your time with your hubby become?  Do you ever wear anything “special” for him anymore?  When’s the last time you went on a date with your spouse?  Are you the type of mom who will make it to your child’s first birthday without ever having left them…ever? 

Yes, being a mommy is important, but so is being a wife.  And a woman.  And a follower of Christ.  And all the other things God’s created you to be.  Don’t loose who you are—who God created you to be—for the sake of being a mommy!  In the long run, you’ll be a much better mommy if your marriage is healthy.  You’ll be a much better wife if you take time for yourself.  You’ll take more time for yourself if your “mommy” hat is just one of many. 

In honor of this new challenge to myself (and you), I have two cute new pairs of boots sitting in my closet…and I’m really going to wear them.   

Friday, September 14, 2012

One Month Old

A week ago Tuesday our little Miles is one month old (he’ll be 6 weeks old tomorrow).  It hardly seems real. 

In some ways, it seems like he’s been here forever.  I just can no longer imagine my life without him!  On the other hand, it doesn’t seem possible that a month could already have passed since I first held him in my arms and first saw his precious face.  The time really has flown by.

This past month has been exhausting, to say the least.  I honestly have no idea how much sleep I’ve been getting, and caffeine is becoming more-and-more of a necessity.  I now understand why my mom always has to have her afternoon cup of coffee.  Motherhood is very tiring!  And yet, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  It’s an amazing thing to have someone so tiny and helpless rely on you…to need you.  My heart skips a beat every time Miles turns his head to my voice, or stops crying when someone hands him back to me.  In the past few days, he’s also started to smile.  To see your child smile at you for the very first time is absolutely indescribable. 

I get asked a lot if Miles is a “good baby”.  I’m never quite sure how to respond to that, because I’m not sure what criteria they’re basing “good” off of.  He’s not the type of baby that eats at a regular interval and then immediately nods off to sleep.  He has his fussy times of day, and there have been nights he’s been up every hour.  And boy can that kid scream!  When he gets hungry, he “goes down fast”, as Andy says.  Within a matter of seconds he can go from completely content to screaming like a banshee.  But, thankfully, a little bit of mama’s milk always seems to do the trick. ;)

We’ve really enjoyed seeing his little personality come out.  One of the first things most people notice about him (if he’s awake) is that he has the biggest most alert eyes.  He’s always looking around at everybody and everything.  He never wants to miss out on anything…which can often lead to trouble getting him to sleep.  He also hates being confined.  Swaddling went out the window after the first week, and he still screams when we strap him in his car seat (although he’s getting a little more used to it).  He loves being outside.  If he gets fussy or antsy, all we have to do is take him out into the sun and he quickly becomes perfectly happy and content.  Yesterday we took him down to a state park near us and walked all around…he ate up every minute. 

He’s very active, and gets frustrated that he can’t crawl, reach something, or turn over.  He’s notorious for kicking his legs against you, trying to stand up.  My dad is convinced he’ll be an early walker, but I guess we’ll see.  His neck is getting stronger by the day, and he’s lifting his head up a lot now…I think looking at something is a big incentive for him.  As I said earlier, he’s also just started to smile at his mommy and daddy.  It’s like he changes a little more each day!  It’s neat to watch…but I also don’t want him to grow up too fast.  

Suffice it to say, we are all doing good.  Miles is growing like crazy.  As of a week ago, he’d already grown two inches and gained almost a pound (almost double than that if you count his weight loss after birth).  He’s starting to sleep better at night (he had night and day a bit mixed up at first, heh!), and he’s grown to love his baths (which he hated at first). 

And Andy and I?  We’re falling more in love with our little man each day.  We love each minute that we get to spend with him.  Miles is truly the most incredible gift we’ve ever received.  We know that God has great plans for this sweet babe, and we’re excited to be a part of them. 

One month down…many more to go.  We love you, precious boy!     

Lessons from Motherhood

It’s amazing how much one month can change you.  Just one month ago my little boy came into this world…and my life would never be the same.  Here are some of the things I’ve learned since Miles came along:

1. Trust your instincts…not the experts.  Before Miles was born, I had some pretty set ideas.  No pacifiers, no co-sleeping, and breastfeeding would be very easy.  Hah!  Guess what?  I’d caved into the pacifier within two days, Miles has spent most of his nights in our bed, and breastfeeding was certainly not easy.  Giving up my pre-conceived notions was far from easy, though.  Often, I felt like a failure as a mom.  I almost wish now I had stopped listening to the experts long ago. 

I remember one very long night when he was about five days old.  He was up most of the night, and every time he’d fall asleep and I’d lay him in his sleeper, he’d start crying.  Finally, at my wit’s end and exhausted, I’d laid down with him on my chest.  And I felt terrible for doing it.  Thankfully, when I’d called my mom crying the next morning I was not met with criticism.  Instead, I was encouraged to trust my instincts and do what I needed to do…instead of worrying about what the “experts” told us to do.  That was a turning point for me.  Now, I take each day at a time and let my baby shows me what he needs.  For the first couple of weeks, that was sleeping close to mommy and daddy.

Five weeks later, Miles does sleep much of the night in his sleeper, but he always ends up in bed with us eventually.  And you know what?  That’s okay.

2. Every baby is different.  We as adults are all very different from each other.  Why should we expect our babies to be any different?  One of the traps I fell into early on was thinking that there was a magic formula for every baby.  Well guess what?  There isn’t!  My baby doesn’t like swaddling, and isn’t big on being rocked to sleep.  He’d prefer to fall asleep walking around, or be put to sleep in a drunken “milk stupor”.  And just sleeping contentedly in his car seat at a restaurant?  Forget about it!  He hates his car seat, although he’s getting more used to it.  In restaurants, we usually do a lot better if I put him in the Moby Wrap.  But only with his feet out (they recommend keeping feet in for newborns)…he doesn’t like to have his feet constrained. 

3. It’s okay to have the baby blues. That first week definitely had it’s ups-and-downs.  I’m so grateful to all of the women who made a point of telling me it was normal to feel down or blue the first few weeks.  I certainly did.  Don’t get me wrong, being a mama was the most wonderful experience, and I was so in love with my little boy!  Yet, I definitely felt sad at times, and often for no particular reason.  Everything was just so new…and my hormones were way out of whack!  They evened out though, and the blues quickly went away.  It helped me so much knowing that what I was feeling was normal, though! 

4. Let some things go. Okay, I’m not going to lie…it really bugged me at first that I couldn’t keep up with all my normal house chores.  At one point, the floor got so filthy that I just had to not look at it.  Even now, the cobwebs in the windows are driving me crazy (I used to vacuum them once a week).  Slowly, though, I’m learning that it’s okay.  I’m learning that if we have to get fast food again because I didn’t have time (or energy) to cook, it’s okay.  This is just for a season!  And, honestly, I’d much rather savor my little boy’s snuggles than waste my time worrying about how dirty my house is.  It’s just not worth it! 

5. Don’t forget your spouse. I’m not going to lie…there are days that parenthood, lack of sleep, and stress have put a definite strain on Andy’s and my relationship.  There’s never anything big, but I’m just so much more quick to snap about petty things and what-not.  We’ve been trying to be more intentional about connecting relationally.  I’m so thankful for a man who is faithful and devoted to our marriage and our relationship.  And you know what?  This is definitely making our relationship stronger.  We’re learning to rely on each other more, and our communication skills are definitely sharpening.  It’s so easy to forget Andy in the midst of all the feedings, poopy diapers, and endless bouncing…but that would be wrong.  My marriage comes even before my sweet Miles.  Besides, the stronger our marriage is, the better parents we’ll be for Miles.  (Can you say “teamwork”?)

6. Enjoy the new “normal”. Life is definitely different from before Miles came.  We knew it would be, but I don’t think anything can fully prepare you for it.  The first few weeks we were pretty much hermits, holed away in our house just trying to get some sleep.  Can you blame us?  Not only were we exhausted, but a mere “quick” trip to the grocery store had tripled in time…or more.  Now when I go into town I have to plan things around feedings and naptimes.  I have a perpetual fear of getting in the middle of a grocery trip with a full basket, only to find myself with a baby who’s screaming like a banshee.  Thankfully that has yet to happen.

Truthfully, though, everything’s changed.  Our routines, what we do in our free time…even when we hang out with friends who have kids.  When we go out, I know find myself in a back room a lot nursing or changing a diaper.  That hasn’t stopped us from going out though.  We’ve been to several restaurants and over to other people’s houses.  We are just a bit more flexible. (And I’m so thankful for the Moby Wrap…it’s an instant soother when we’re out-and-about).  Yes, our life has changed, but that doesn’t have to be a negative thing.  We can choose to embrace this change or complain about it.  I choose the former.     

7. Stop worrying. Finally, as any new mother can relate to, I tend to worry a lot.  Is he too hot or cold?  Is he getting enough to eat?  Is he growing right?  Whenever he’s crying or upset, or has a rough night, I’m so quick to try to find a solution.  He must be gassy from something I ate!  I should try to cut out dairy.  As my friend so graciously reminded me:  he’s just a baby, and that’s what baby’s do.  Sometimes they’re fussy and you don’t know why.  But that’s totally normal!  It doesn’t mean he has a fever or needs “Colic Calm”.  God designed my little Miles’ body to grow and form exactly according to plan.  And you know what?  Whether I eat dairy or not isn’t going to change anything.  All my worrying is just going to make me stressed, in turn making him more fussy!  He’s going to be just fine in the end.