Monday, February 24, 2014

Wish I Knew Then, What I Know Now

Everett turns a year old tomorrow.  When I think about it, I have that anxious feeling in my stomach.  Sad that he is no longer my newborn that barley fit across my body, excited for how funny and mobile he is now, and anxious that he is now so smart and learning so much and I feel so much responsibility to teach him good things and to be a good, sweet and kind boy.

I have only been a parent for a year, so this post is not really me giving advice to anyone but more writing down personal lessons I have learned so far. So many times Ben and I have looked at each other after we have made another parenting 'mistake' or knowingly got into bad habits just to get some sleep and said 'well.....the next baby'

I remember that first few months, I really felt like I had no idea what I was doing.  Sometimes it felt like I was just babysitting and I was waiting for the real mom to come pick the baby up, how could I be old enough and ready enough for this?  I was a nervous, anxious ball of hormones.

I remember one night, prefaced by a day of all day colic crying where Everett literally had only slept an hour, he would only sleep in my arms while walking around the house.  I was literally delusional and was honestly thinking Everett wouldn't sleep because he was mad I would not let him watch the rest of an Arrested Development episode-'He is crying because he can't figure out the ending' I thought-totally consious and walking.  Ben was working night shift the following night so I didn't want to wake him up.  I had finally gotten Everett to sleep around 6am, put him in his swing, and laid down on the couch next to him. Six minutes later, he woke up screaming.  I started balling, I needed help, I needed my mom, I needed sleep.  I swallowed my pride, felt like a horrible mother who couldn't do her job and went to Ben balling telling him I needed just 1 hour of sleep and then I would be good.  Ben looked terrified of me and took the baby no problem, and told me not to worry and to sleep.  I crawled into bed and cried and thought I was doomed. I eventually slept, woke up feeling a million times better and knew I was being crazy and things were going to be fine.  That's how I feel about all the lessons I have learned this year-It takes a little bit of sleep and the passing of time to look back and see things in a better perspective and that everything is going to be fine.

Somehow we made it through our first beautiful year and I feel much less messy and frazzled.  I still am new to this and make mistakes all the time-Everett is still not sleeping through the night, I bribe him with Oreo's in the car so he won't scream the entire ride and I have been changing his diaper while he stands up for the last couple months because it is easier than holding him down and forcing it while he acts like I am stabbing him, a really bad and messy habit. All in all though, I feel like I am getting the hang of things these days, both in being a mom day in and day out to E, but also in a good place emotionally where I feel happy with my role and place right now as a mother, wife, friend and individual.

So looking back, here are a few things I know now that I wish I would have known {almost} a year ago.

STOP WORRYING SO MUCH.  This is by far my biggest lesson.  I was so anxious and worried about everything. I would lose sleep at night (sleep I desperately needed). I worried about milestones down to the day (so silly to think about now) I worried about his sleep-'he's not sleeping enough/ he's sleeping so long! Is something wrong? Should I wake him up?' I worried about his eating, his skin, his hair, his crying, his car seat, EVERYTHING.   Ben said to me 'you need to stop spending your time worrying, or else you are going to miss out on stuff' and it hit me hard.  I am a natural worrier but I feel like I have gotten much better.  I  try to remain more calm in scary situations, and be more logical for Everett's sake as he is getting better at reading me.

Figure things out on your own.  There is SO much information out there about parenting, and a majority of it directly contradicts other 'advice' or 'expert opinion'.
-Sleep training will result in trust and abandonment issues//Sleep training is necessary and
will have no impact on future personality.
-Pacifiers help soothe and are good for neurological development//Pacifiers are a crutch and
should not be used.
-Babies need schedules to function//Don't be in a rigid schedule
-Babies should learn independent play, don't let them become overly attached to you//Be 'present' at all times with your child.
-Co-sleeping is good for bonding with your baby//Co-sleeping is dangerous and could kill your baby.
See what I mean-so much contradictory information! So I really needed to stop googling, and figure out what was best for Everett, Ben and I.  Do our own thing.

Find Balance. It seems like no matter what stage of life I am in, I am always looking for balance.  Balance between first boyfriend and my best friends time in high school, balance between school and social life, balance between work and our marriage etc.  Well when we had Everett, I really struggled to find balance.  I went months without seeing our friends because it would 'throw off Everett's schedule if we weren't home by 6'.  I struggled to find balance with time for myself.  I was so constantly wrapped up in Everetts needs, that I forgot about my own needs, which in turn made me a crappier mother because I was tired physically and mentally, lonely and needed a break.  It has also taken Ben and I a while to find balance between being parents and being a couple, something we continue to work on. We started taking time at night to just talk, eat something together, watch a movie etc. Before it would be a whirlwind of trying to make/eat dinner while giving Everett his own dinner, bathtime, bedtime, peace out I'm going to lay on the couch and do mindless nothings for an hour to relax and then go to bed. Also, we now usually eat dinner after Everett goes to bed, which works way better for us.  I have also noticed that when we do make changes to a schedule or make an effort to do something with friends, we are all happier and refreshed by more out-of-home human contact!

Take a break.  I am still learning and working on this one.  I have hardly ever been away from Everett.  He was so colicky when he was little and I worried if I left him, no one but me would know how to calm him down just right.  He has never really taken a bottle, so if he was hungry I needed to be there.  Now he is older and really attached to me and I worry what if he is looking around for me and I'm not there?  We have never left him with a babysitter since he was 2.5 months unless he is already asleep at night.  Yesterday I had a dentist appointment so Everett stayed home with Ben.  I called Ben the second I was out of the dentist to check how he was doing, he was totally fine.  So I ran another errand and went to the print shop.  On the way home I stopped by Swig and got a big dirty diet coke and a cookie and then I went home.  Not only was Everett totally fine, (Ben and him were doing chores and playing) but I was refreshed, felt so great, so excited to see and play with Everett and was so much happier after my little outing.  Ben told me I needed to do that more often.  I know. I do.

There are a lot of other lessons learned this year, and even on a daily basis, but these are the main ones I want to remember, you know, for next time.

And oh ya-one more-Always park right next to the 'cart return'


Brynn Snyder said...

loved reading this!


Brynn Snyder said...

loved reading this!


jennica said...

Cass I loved everything about this! Such good advice and you are a great mom to Everett! I'm so glad I have you to ask questions and get advice from. Love you!


Loved this cassie! and oh yes the cart return!!!

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