Lessons learned

I knew AJ was tired. It was almost 8:30 p.m., and he’s usually in bed by 8.

I sat in the rocker to feed him as he wriggled around, trying desperately to get comfortable. After a few minutes of quiet, he tossed his bottle to the floor—the signal for ‘I’m done.’ I patted his back and shushed as he drifted in and out of sleep. A motorcycle rumbled past the open window, startling him awake. I kissed the top of his head as he readjusted himself.

After about 10 minutes, he fell asleep curled in my left arm, his head resting on my chest.

I continued to rock back and forth, listening to his even breathing and trying to remember every detail of this moment. It goes against everything the baby websites say: Don’t rock your baby to sleep. He’ll never learn to fall asleep on his own.

I know what the experts say. But I don’t care.

My baby won’t always fit in my arms. He just turned 1 and is nearly 3 feet tall.

My baby won’t always be rocked to sleep. Before I know it, he won’t even let me give him a kiss goodnight.

IMG_4322I’d heard about these moments…where the days are long but the years are short. I was literally just trying to figure out how to button his onesie after a middle-of-the-night diaper change. Now he’s chasing the kitty and saying “Mama.”

I can’t believe he’s 1 already. Being AJ’s mom has been one of the most challenging roles of my life. But this last year has taught me a few unexpected lessons.

You’ve gotta do you. Everyone (and I mean everyone) has an opinion: “I did this with my kids and they’re fine.” “You’re feeding him that?” “Why don’t you do this instead?” I cannot even explain the amount of anxiety I felt trying to do it everyone else’s way. I’m finally learning to stand my ground. I feel like I’ve been holding my breath for 12 months and can start to exhale. In life and with babies: Heed some of the advice. But filter out what doesn’t go with your gut. You know what’s best.

Laundry can wait. I seriously have no clue what I did with my spare time before we had AJ. Every.waking.moment.is.full. Dishes, cleaning, office work, answering emails…sometimes I feel guilty falling asleep because I know there’s still so much to do. But it’s OK. Because none of that truly matters. I won’t remember the times I didn’t vacuum. I’ll remember AJ’s first steps, the time he learned to feed the balls to his toy giraffe and the day he sat in pure awe watching a bird bathe by the window. Slow down. The stuff can wait.

Somebody’s watching. My husband and I have almost complete control over AJ’s life right now: what he plays with, eats, hears and sees. More importantly, we’re his first models on how to treat others, handle disappointment, and rebound from setbacks. I know that more is caught than what is taught and we as parents make the difference, so I choose to get up when I fall, take responsibility for my actions, treat others with respect and speak abundance and positivity over my family. AJ will learn about negativity and giving up. But it won’t be from me.

I’ve made mistakes in the last year. And I’ll make more this year. But my role as AJ’s mom has changed me in a way I never expected. And I’ve never been more grateful.

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