Courtney at All the Sun for You posted recently about the top 10 things she was surprised to realize about herself as a parent, and then she challenged us all to write our own lists and link back. Here is my contribution!
The top 10 things I’ve learned about myself as a parent thus far…
1) I’m really laid back about most things (though lately, I’ve realized I’ve gotten more hardcore on the importance of naps – they are necessary MIL, so quit freaking skipping them!). For the most part, though, I’m fine with Stella learning about the world around her in an independent way. She definitely gets her fair share of bumps and bruises by exploring on her own, but that’s okay! I constantly get compliments on what a “relaxed” parent I am, and that makes me smile. I never would have thought I’d be as relaxed as I have turned out to be.
2) Family meals are super important to me. At least 5 nights per week we all sit down together at the table to eat with the TV off and phones on silent (this never happened pre-kiddo), and the other 2 nights, Char and I are generally standing around talking in the kitchen while Stella is next to us eating, so at least we are all still interacting. I have great memories of talking with my parents and siblings around the dinner table while growing up, and I strongly believe that it is a huge part of why we were so close to each other and open about our lives.
3) Midnight cuddles are the best. Don’t get me wrong, I love that Stella usually sleeps through the night now, but I really haven’t minded getting up with her (well, except that one time when she was getting up every 45 minutes and I was ready to tear my fingernails out – that sucked). I love feeling needed. I love when she cuddles into my chest and physically relaxes while I rub her back and “shhhh” her back to sleep. I loved having a family bed, and now that she is in her crib (and has been since 6 months), I really miss her closeness at times. I totally “get” co-sleeping now, and I never did before.
4) I don’t want to be a full time SAHM, even though I miss Stella SO much every day that I’m at work. Holy shit do I crave some adult interaction (not to mention, I am not great at coming up with cool, educational games for Stella and that makes me feel like a failure if I’m the only person “teaching” her things during the day). Right now I work 35hrs/week at the clinic, but I’d love to do closer to 25 if we could swing it financially so that I could have more time at home with Stells. Maybe someday, especially if we have 2 kids and daycare expenses start adding up.
5) I really want Stella to have a good relationship with food. I’ve worked hard to be able to breastfeed for the first year of her life to ensure she gets a great start with the perfect nutrition. Yes, I get that it’s not p.c. to say that, but I truly believe it’s important to breastfeed if you can, and I’m thankful I was able to provide that for her. In the past six months she has also gotten to eat a ton of healthy, fresh solid foods. It has made me a better cook, because I want HER to have good, balanced meals every day and to like spinach as much as mac’n’cheese. I don’t want her to struggle with food like I have.
6) I’m more careful with her environment than my own. – I buy more organic food for her (and will buy organic milk as well). I buy hormone free/phalate free/BPA free shampoos, lotions, etc. I surround her with cloth and wooden books and toys instead of plastic. I don’t want the crap in the environment to affect her if I can help it.
7) I’m a patient Mom. – I am NOT a patient person. I am quick to get riled up, and quick to judge. When it comes to Stella though, I’m patient. Thank God.
8) I love cloth diapering! – Yes, this is random, but I love that it’s good for the environment. I love that it’s organic cotton on her booty. I love that it saves me money every day. I love that she looks cute in dresses with that adorable bum sticking out. I love that it’s easy and that I’ve converted the friends and family around me to admit that they like it too. I love it!
9) I could see myself only having one kid. – Two would be great, but pre-TTC I had always seen us having 3-4 (and maybe 5!). Now…shit, kids are expensive. They are a lot of work. They require a lot of time. I LIKE that I get to focus so much on Stella, and it’s so hard for me to imagine having another child to add to the mix. I never saw myself as a parent of just one or two…that just doesn’t (didn’t?) feel like a FAMILY to me… but now??
10) I still like being ME. – I want Stella to see me as a parent who is active and outgoing and willing and able to do any number of things – be it snowboarding or working out or having beers on the back patio with friends. I am more than just Stella’s Mommy, and I’m glad that I still feel that way. It’s truly key to my sanity and to my happiness and to helping me to feel fulfilled as a person and not just a parent.
So that’s it – my top 10. Or at least, it’s the top 10 I thought about when I sat down to write this.
We are one year in… wow. What a trip.