Fast-forward three blissfully unpredictable years. We now have two kiddos; Ilana is three years old and baby Miriam is already five months! With Miriam, we didn’t feel the need to prepare so much for the birth or baby care part, kind of feeling that, like a familiar song you haven’t heard in a while, practical actions of parenthood and childcare would be something easily remembered. That held true—the whole caring for a living creature thing? Not nearly as scary this time around, and in that respect, my self-assurance as a parent has soared.
What Miriam’s shown me during these first months of my second round of mommyhood, though, is much more. Parenthood isn’t as formulaic as one (I, certainly) might think it is prior to becoming a parent, when the baby is still this abstract idea whose reality you can only strive to understand. Parenthood is as individual as a fingerprint and it evolves into an experience that is as individual and unique as your children are. There are many reasons I am thankful for sweet Miriam and ‘Big Honey’ Ilana, but the discoveries I have had because I am a parent to these kids are some that have, in short, flipped the switch on my thinking of parenthood and empowered me with a much-needed infusion of confidence.
—There’s no end to learning—
I had this idea, early on in my pregnancy with Miriam, of the type of parent I am. Since she’s joined us, I am truly able to appreciate how different each child is, and that what I did with Ilana doesn’t (and sometimes just isn’t the way) have to be ‘the way.’ Suggestions from other moms at preschool, articles shared on social media, and now in my second round of parenting classes, I am excited to learn strategies and research from other mothers. For me now, it’s about another tool in the tool kit, not subscribing to any one parenting philosophy.
—Patience (truly) is a skill—
On days my patience level is nearing empty, the days where I know I am snippier and am likely to yell, I know that I can go take a moment, come back to the situation, and foster a do-over. By working on this as a skill, there’s the bonus of your child learning that it is okay (and normal) to work on getting control of a situation. Do I sometimes react with a yell instead of using my calm words? Of course; I am human. But I always try to remind myself that patience is a skill, and to be skilled takes practice.
—They really do grow fast—
Shutterfly sent an offer for 100+ photos for a ridiculously low price, and as I thumbed through the photos the day they arrived, I was rushed by this bittersweet feeling of the times I see before me being gone. I remember thinking, she will never be that little again. In the first two years, people would always stop and mention how ‘they grow up so fast,’ and I remember being in the checkout line covered in spit up, still during the time it takes a baby so long to nurse, it’s time for the next feeding by the time they’re done, thinking…Are you crazy? I wish it would speed up a bit!! Similar thoughts happened during the exploration phase and during language acquisition phase…thoughts of, This is so. much. effort.
With Miriam, I feel like I blinked, and she’s rolling over. She sits up for a second or two, she eats solids, she laughs…these milestones feel like a blur, and lately, I look at Ilana as we’re engaged in a truly back-and-forth conversation and think, When did you become a ‘big’ person with opinions you can express? You’re. so. big.
Time Flies! Make the most of it; even the times requiring tremendous efforts will be over faster than you may imagine.
—The perfect mom doesn’t exist—
We can probably all think of a mom who we feel just has it all together…and maybe you’ve also tortured yourself thinking, I should be more like…
Hear me—the perfect mom? She doesn’t exist. If anything, motherhood has made me an even more open person, and most moms I talk to are reciprocally open about their experiences. In my informal research (hanging out with my mommy friends), I can tell you we all struggle with the same parenting hurdles, just in different quantities and at different intervals. Absolutely, look at what moms around you do that work for them, strategies that you can apply; just don’t ever believe that anyone’s parenting journey is without difficulties and challenges.
—It’s Okay to Give Yourself Some Credit—
You’re interacting with and guiding a living being whose mood is (almost) totally out of your control. Half of the day’s exchanges you have with your little ones are influenced by variables you might not always understand (for example, I don’t understand why the Dora spoon is so important to meal time). Based on this unpredictable state, it’s understandable that your level of with-it-ness is going to fluctuate as well. Be kind to yourself as a parent when it comes to expectations.
Granted Mir is a wee baby still and our days of facing real battles like bed time and the pain of losing a toy she loves are far away. What’s great is knowing that I have gained so many tools; it makes me excited for all that I will continue to discover along the way. This adventure of parenthood is totally uninformed consent, ya’ll…I believe the greatest thing we can do as parents is to support and empower each other through sharing and encouraging and I am appreciative for all who have shared with me.