Over the past two and half years as a parent, I’ve learned an enormous amount about my sheer capacity as a human. Parenthood is a trial by fire that taught me about resilience, compassion, ownership, adaptability and, at the heart of it all, my core values. It’s still teaching me everyday. I’m not here to claim that becoming a parent by default made me a “better” person, but man has it helped me grow and yes, I think, improve in certain ways I could never have otherwise. I’m definitely a massive work in progress though. And I know I’ll always be a work in progress.
The thing about parenthood is that it really exposes each and every one of your flaws in the rawest way possible. It sometimes means showing your vulnerabilities to the last people you’d ever expected. And there’s no guarantee they will be able to understand just how tender you are in those moments. How gentle they need to be. It often forces you to rely on others for very basic things and accept help when it comes, in whatever form it comes in. Not the easiest ask for most of us, who were likely quite independent prior.
The way I found order in my new reality as a mother was to establish a (sometimes very rigid) schedule. I’d say it has been my greatest asset and, at times, my achilles heal. Having my day laid out in a semi-predictable way has been paramount to my functioning.
Straight up. I cling to our routine with a death grip.
It’s this one thing I have any semblance of control over. Of course, kiddies change as they grow (sometimes overnight) so I’ve still had to learn to adapt as I go. I’ve been forced to become more flexible over my journey as a mama, but it’s still sometimes a challenge.
I had to find what worked for me. Over the first 4-5 months of the peanuts life, I was all over the place. Once I was able get us into a routine and help my daughter sleep better, so many things clicked into place for us. Breastfeeding suddenly became easier, my sleep improved, I could anticipate and predict my daughters needs better. Overall, it kind of saved me. I chose to sacrifice my social life and a few other outlets for a while to keep that going, so it wasn’t all perfect. When something didn’t work within the bounds of the routine (and many things did not when we were still doing two long naps), it got dropped or rearranged. Still does, to a degree. That was the battle I picked as a parent.
After a while, however, I was able to find a way to balance the two. Even eventually sacrificing a nap here and there for a special occasion or pushing bedtime back (without panicking). I am still very grateful to our routine, though. While L (still) naps (thank god), it buys me some precious time to get errands done in my home, write (like right now) or rest. In the evening, I get a few valuable hours I can mostly count on alone with Jose or for myself. It means I can get dinner on the table and keep my house in some kind of order. It also means we can plan each day without a ton of guess work. And, hey, I can be way more present knowing when I will get some time to recharge. Of course, there are times nothing works the way it’s supposed to, but I can count on that other 90% and that’s no small thing.
With a second kiddie on the way, I suspect I’m going to need to become quite a bit more flexible. And fast. I’m hoping I’ll eventually be able to establish some kind of routine again, for my own sanity and that of my family. Hopefully I’ll still find ways to carve out time for myself as well.
Having said that, I am aware it will look quite a bit different from today. It’s so crazy to think we’ll be going back to square one with a fresh baby again!
I’m hoping that I’ve learned enough to chill the f out (at least a bit more) this time around.