Monday, January 14, 2013

10 Things I've Learned in My 1st Year of Motherhood

Friday was Sam's 1st birthday, and what an AMAZING year it has been. I'm finally a mom - what more could I ask for? But not only a mom... a mom to the coolest little dude on the planet. Seriously, he is. The hub and I keep saying we must be in for it on the next one because this kid has just been too easy. Have there been challenging times? Of course. But he's just the happiest little guy and so easy-going. And ridiculously cute. I told God I wanted a cute baby after all we had to endure to get this kid here. (And God, you totally came through - thank you.)  We had a wonderfully over-the-top and completely out-of-control party on Saturday to celebrate.  It was simply THE BEST.   (Pictures and details to come!)
So in honor of Sam's first birthday and our first anniversary of becoming parents, I give you the TOP 10 things I've learned in my 1st year as a mother. By no means is this list all-encompassing, hence the word "TOP."  I learn new things everyday.  Enjoy!
1. Boys are simply the best. OK, granted I have no way to compare... but I have found tremendous and unexpected joy in having a son. I am such a girly girl and I always envisioned myself having a daughter so we could paint the town pink together. And perhaps someday I will. But I have to tell you, I could have three boys and be happy as a clam. I did a lot of reading on boys while pregnant. I've always been intrigued by how different God made men and women and we've studied a lot about that when it comes to marriage. But learning about those differences in kids is an entirely new world. I'm in love with the idea of boys and especially this little boy of mine. One of my favorite reads was Boys Should Be Boys by Meg Meeker. She talked about how mothers and daughters will be forever connected, but mothers will have to one day let go of their sons. My kid is only 12 months old, but I have an entirely new compassion for mothers of grooms! Sam will always be my baby, but one day Sam will have another leading lady.
2.  Babies aren't really the hard part - marriage is.  Again, I can only speak for MY baby here - I know some babies are way, way more challenging than others and we got really lucky with Sam. He's just an easy going little dude.  But all babies will test your limits!  The hub and I had nearly 10 years of marriage under our belt before Sam arrived.  And we've faced some pretty big things together in our young marriage, but throwing a kid in the mix just puts you in an entirely new league.  For the first time, I've got someone else competing for my attention.  I have to tell ya... being a mommy to a little boy - it's SOOOO easy to give him all my time and love and energy.  I have to be intentional about remembering that my husband is my #1 man.  And of course, loving ME looks different now that I'm a mom.  So there are some growing pains there... learning to love each other well in this new season of life.  It's a good and healthy and necessary challenge, but I definitely think it's the harder one.  Being a great wife is the first step to being a great mom.
3.  God REALLY loves me.  Wow, if God could ever give us a tiny glimpse at how much he loves us, I now know it's through our children.  The endless love I feel for this little boy is nothing I've felt before.  It's unconditional.  There's nothing Sam could do to make me love him more.  There's nothing Sam could do to make me love him less.  And that's exactly how God feels about me and you.  There's nothing I could do to make God love me more.  There's nothing I could do to make God love me less.  I finally get it.  And to think he loves my Sam even more than I do?  Wow.
4.  I do have patience!  One of the most surprising things has been seeing how much patience I have with this kid.  I don't freak out when he's upset.  Dirty diapers don't phase me.  I know when I truly need a break and it's time to call in the hubby for reinforcements, but I feel like I've rolled through the challenges (of newborns especially) pretty darn well.  And you'll never see me complain about it.  We fought for this kid for SO long... I'm not going to complain about not getting enough sleep or spit up in my hair.  It's part of the job and I LOVE my job.

5.  I can't do it ALL, and that's OK.  It's true, I'm a bit of a control freak.  I've never been good at asking for help.  Because, you know... no one is going to do it the way *I* would do it.  Which is perfectly, right?! Haha...  And too, I just want to be self-sufficient.  Well, along comes a kid and suddenly you just physically can't do it all anymore.  I've always been a doer - it's very rare that I'm just sitting around doing nothing.  But with a newborn, there is a lot of nothing that goes on for hours at a time.  And that was a big adjustment for me.  I would get frustrated when I couldn't get things done around the house because I had a baby to tend to... I know that makes zero sense.  I asked for this, right?  So I have had to learn how to just "be" with my family.  The laundry may be piling up, but this hour of play with my son is so precious.  The laundry can wait.  And before things truly get out of control, I've learned (and am still learning) to ask for help.

6.  Some of the sweetest moments happen at 3 a.m.  I must say, Sam is a great sleeper.  He was sleeping through the night between 6 and 8 weeks.  But we still get those occasional waking cries in the wee hours of the morning when it's just clear that he's NOT going back to sleep without a little help.  And though I plead with him through the baby monitor to settle back down, once I find myself holding him in the rocker in the quiet of the night... that's when I have those incredibly sweet moments where I realize, WOW... this little boy is all mine and I am his mom.  Many tearful prayers of gratitude have been whispered in that rocker while the rest of the house sleeps. 

7.  Parenting involves some serious teamwork.  We always refer to a husband and wife as being a "team," but never has that been so important before now.  I have a whole new respect for single parents after this first year with Sam.  I love that the hub and I have different "roles" with Sam that play into his routine.  But we also tag-team a lot when it comes to the small stuff... like a diaper blow out, or just getting him out the door for school.  Watching my husband be a daddy and love on our son warms my heart to no end.  But I'm also thankful for the heart that God has grown in me for my single mom friends because of that.  I continue to seek ways to love on them and help them.

8.  Sam's story starts with US.  Parenthood is such a privilege, but it's also a very humbling thing to know that this kid's future is so dependent on what we do today.  At Sam's dedication, we focused our prayer not so much on him, but on us - as his parents.  Protect our marriage, God, and help us to love each other well through every season.  We truly believe that the BEST thing we can do for our son is to show him what a godly marriage looks like.  We are not just raising a man, but a future husband, a future king.  We're teaching him what it looks like to be a loving husband and how he should treat women and most importantly, his future wife.  His definition of family and marriage comes from us.  So yeah, we're definitely praying that WE don't drop the ball here!  Sure, we're going to mess up.  But we want to parent with the end in mind. 

9.  Everyone should have the chance to know this joy.  Not everyone wants to be a parent, and I totally get that.  But so many people DO want this and can't seem to get there, much like us for so long.  So should you choose to be a parent, my wish for you is that you will one day realize that dream.  Being on the other side of our long journey, I can't put into words the true joy this little boy brings me.  Many times I've found myself thinking, "now THIS is what life is about."  Watching this little helpless bundle grow before our eyes and begin to discover the world... it's magic.  And I want that for you, too.  Fighting to get here opened my heart in so many ways.  You just can't go through such a battle unchanged.  After having Sam, it was an easy conclusion for us... once we're "done" growing our little family, we plan to donate our remaining embryos.  Egg production was never my issue, so we have quite the stash and I can't imagine we'd use them all.   If we can play a small part in allowing another couple to experience this joy, how could we say no to that?  It's a no-brainer.  Is it weird to think there might be other biological kids of ours running around someday that we don't know about?  Sure.  But the thing is, we're all ultimately children of God.  And I can't think of a better way to honor and glorify that fact than by giving a piece of our small legacy here on earth.

10.  It was all worth the wait.  We closed our prayer at Sam's dedication by thanking God for making us wait for our boy.  It's certainly not the path we would have chosen to parenthood.  It's funny to think about how different our lives might look today had things gone according to our plan.  But I truly believe that God never makes us wait without reason.  I can name several practical reasons for making us wait.  But more than anything, he allowed time to mold us into the people we are today.  And I am grateful for that time.  Was it painful in the midst of it all?  Absolutely.  But we can not see the forest but for the trees.... Sam was worth every surgery, every injection, every procedure, every dollar, and every prayer.  And every time God said, "not now."  If you are still on your journey, hold tight, sweet friends, and keep fighting.  However your story ends, God is doing a good work in you.


Lisa said...

What a sweet, sweet post! Congrats on your first year as a mommy :)

Jill said...

I LOVE this post. So beautiful. And a bit "yes yes yes" along with every word. ;)

Jaclyn N Lil M said...

Happy 1st birthday Sam and Congratulations on 1 year of mommyhood! With many more exciting years to come :)

Dr. Blondie said...

I love this post. My little guy turned 1 in September and I agree wholeheartedly with every point you made. Happy birthday to Sam!

BroncoMom said...

Please print this so one day Sam may read this beautiful post.
God Bless all of you!

Ashley said...

This is a GREAT list and I am so happy for you! I agree that boys are the best, and it just gets better. Congratulations to you on motherhood!

amy (metz) walker said...

Love every single word of this post. Each one.

Sara said...

I think this may be my favorite post you've ever done. I love every single word of this. There are so many things that I've learned in this past year - and you've said them all so perfectly. Boys rock! Marriage is hard. 3am can be magic. Patience is there, surprisingly. I am blessed beyond belief and I want this for everyone that wants it. Yes, it was worth it all. So well said.