Monday, January 23, 2012

Lessons Learned in a Year

I still need to do a Christmas re-cap, because getting to have Christmas with our sweet Little Lady was one of the best things ever, but all that's on my mind right now is the hard truth to swallow that my baby girl is now 1! I've heard parents say it a million times, but I cannot believe how fast time is going! I remember giving birth and bringing her home from the hospital like it was yesterday... but at the same time the newborn phase feels like it was a lifetime ago, and I hardly have any recollection at all of what life was like before her grand arrival. I have learned so much in this last year there's no way I could write it all or even put into words all that I've learned, but here are 25 lessons that stand out...

1. I've learned that I actually can give birth naturally, even though there is no way I could have done it without my amazing husband.

2. I've learned to function on much less sleep than I would like to have.

3. I have learned how to breastfeed. While it is the sweetest, most natural thing, it actually takes a bit to really get comfortable doing it.

4. I've learned to do *almost* everything one-handed... things I haven't figured out yet include cutting up raw meat, using a hair straightener and sewing.

5. I've learned to be way more comfortable with all kinds of bodily fluids... most things aren't so bad, especially coming form a wee one I love so much, but I never dreamed I could be thrown up on multiple times and not be phased (Little Lady having the stomach flu was one of the saddest/hardest times of the year).

6. I have learned a LOT about cloth diapering. It was kind of my obsession for awhile, but now I know what my favorites are (Ragababes). We have our system down, and I just stick to that... I spend a lot less time now obsessing about diapers, but I've even made some great friends through our cloth diapering adventure. And the main thing I've learned is that using cloth diapers is much, much easier than I thought it would be.

7. Something I never really imagined doing (and some may find appalling), but I have learned use the potty while holding a baby, sometimes even a sleeping baby.

8. Now that baby is older and much more active, so I've had to learn to use the potty in such a way that the entire opening is completely covered or a little hand will periodically try to reach in... thankfully she has never succeeded!

9. While we are talking about using the potty, I have also learned that it is a bad combination to sneeze, cough, run or laugh too hard with a full bladder.

10. I've learned how to make myself look presentable even if I didn't attempt a shower that day (at least I think I've learned this... others may disagree). I'm also now comfortable when I look in the mirror and see stains of spit up, snot, or crumbs from the most recent snack, even if all three are found on my dress on the way to a wedding.

11. I have learned that our house may never be perfect again. Some days I even enjoy seeing toys and sippy cups scattered all over the floor because it reminds me how wonderful it is to have a little person around to make good use of those items.

12. I've learned to have selective memory. As I think back on the past year, the great moments stand out! I hardly remember the tough, not so great ones, even though I know I have had those moments! Life with a baby can be hard, but it's such a short time, I'd much rather dwell on the wonderful things about this phase of life.

13. I've learned that days can be long, but the weeks and months are passing by too quickly!

14. I have learned that some of the most magical moments are the simplest... my baby's smile, her laugh, her adorable expressions, the sweet smell of her breath,  her little hand patting me, her sugary kisses, watching her learn, play and discover... I could go on and on.

15. I have learned that I absolutely love getting to stay at home with our Little Lady! I'm so privileged to be the one to get to watch her grow and develop each and every day. I get to be the one to teach her. Since becoming a mommy, I feel like a piece of my life that was missing is now complete. I honestly feel like this is what I was created to do.

16. Though I already knew it, I have now learned beyond a shadow of a doubt, I made the best decision I possibly could have marrying the man I did. Not only was it a great decision for myself, as he is the most loving, kind, encouraging, helpful, strong man a girl could ask for, it was a great decision for our daughter and our future children. They will get to grow up with a daddy who will love them like Jesus loves them, as much as that is humanly possible.

17. I have learned that I *will* do things as a parent that I swore I would never do. A couple things come to mind... I thought I would never let our kids sleep in bed with us, but alas, this has become normal for us... and I actually really enjoy it. I thought I would only nurse a baby until the age of one and no later, but we are passing that... and I'm not sure when we will wean. I'm sure as time goes on my list of things "I will never do" but in fact do will grow by leaps and bounds.

18. I have learned that each family and even each child is different. What works for one family and for one child, may not work at all for another family, and that is o.k. Most parents I know are trying to do the best they can in raising their children. I may not agree with everything they do, but I'm positive I do things other parents don't agree with either... which is fine, and we can all learn from each other.

19. I've learned that I will do anything possible to protect my baby. I know it's inevitable and great lessons can be learned through pain, but dang it, I do not want to see my baby get hurt or be exposed to the cruelties of this world.  I believe a fierceness lies within me I did not know existed just over a year ago.

20. I have learned to understand my own mama in a new way, and I know that I still have a lot to learn from her. Anyone that knows her knows she is an amazing woman. I can now imagine how much she loves us and how hard it must that two of her kids live far away from her... we are planning to build houses in our back yard for all our children ;)

21. Many lessons I'm still in the midst of learning. For example, I worry too much. The smallest little hiccup can send my mind reeling. This is an area I am constantly having to give over to the Lord, and I continually need to ask Him for help in trusting Him... even though I know He wants what is best for all his kids. And he has never let me down before!

22. I'm still learning to be more flexible. No matter how planned out things are, I never know when a wee one will wake up with a fever and change it all, or when I'm already five minutes late, there's a major blow-out, making us very late. I'm learning it's best to roll with these punches and hope others understand.

23. I am learning that I need more patience than I have. As we enter toddlerhood, I know I need to start practicing patience regularly. I pray I can continually be calm, gentle and consistent. Thinking about having to discipline more is daunting, but the task is quickly headed our way. No one else will influence our daughter the way her Daddy and I will... crazy responsibility!

24. I've learned that I still have *a lot* to learn, and parenting is filled with tough choices. I love talking with other parents who have been there, done that and have gained wisdom to be shared. I also love talking to parents who like us are in the beginnings of parenting and trying to figure it out one day at a time. I always welcome advice. I feel the more resources we have to draw from the better, even when everyone has a different opinion. I enjoy hearing them all so we can make a more balanced decision when we have to.

25. This only scratches the surface, but of all the things I've leaned this year, the most important thing I've learned is a deeper understanding of the love God has for us. I know I will never completely comprehend it, but many of the truths in the Bible are much clearer now. I have a better understanding of how God can love us so deeply when we do nothing to earn it and maybe even make things more difficult. When I look at my precious, helpless baby who causes me to get less sleep, forgo general hygiene, have less of a social life, etc. my heart swells with love for her. She teaches me more about the Lord each and every day... an entire post or more should be devoted to this subject. I know it will be in a much different way, but I pray my life points her to Jesus as well.

I can't believe I have a one-year old, and I can't wait to see what this year brings and all that I will learn as we continue this journey!