7 Lessons I Learned in my First Year of Motherhood
May 21, 2021
My son recently turned one and I wanted to reflect on all that I’ve learned in my first year as a new mom. Having my first child during the 2020-2021 year was not easy! We went through a global pandemic, a movement to fight for racial equity and justice, living our lives quarantined in the house, an insurrection on our nation’s capital, and so much more.
Figuring out how to take care of a baby while going through all of that was a challenge to say the least. But I made it through and just celebrated my son’s first birthday! I learned so much about myself and wanted to capture those reflections.
Here are 7 lessons I learned in my first year of motherhood.
I’m stronger than I think.
I went into pregnancy knowing that I was strong (life had already proven that to me), but I did have many fears around my ability to carry a baby, give birth, and make it as a mom. For some reason, I was always worried that I wouldn’t be good at it.
- I was afraid of the pain from delivery. Yes, the contractions hurt and the recovery process had its rough moments, but I made it through!
- I was nervous about being able to juggle it all. Yes, many days are a blur, but things are getting done in due time and my son’s needs are met!
- I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. Yes, it was a challenge and I needed support from others, but we finally got the hang of it and made it to the one year mark!
It’s normal to enter into motherhood with fears, but let this be a reminder that you are stronger than you think and you will get through the trying times!
There are times I won’t get it right, but I can always try again.
There is no one single playbook that tells us how to do everything perfectly. We have to learn by doing and figuring it out as we go. I feel like each day I’m experimenting in my mothering skills.
“Let me try this. Did it work? Why or why not? What else can I try?”(my daily thoughts)
As a new mom, you have to learn how to respond to the crying, how to get your child to sleep through the night, make sure they get enough food, and more. Some days you’re just not gonna get it right and that’s ok! What gives me relief is knowing that I can always try it again the next day and adjust as needed.
Listen to my child to learn his needs.
I remember when I first brought my home from the hospital, I felt freaked out because I didn’t know what to do! I started reading books, I was on Google and YouTube constantly, I joined new mom Facebook groups, and more. Having resources is super helpful, and I learned a lot! However, I also remember a specific instance where I was frustrated with my son’s sleep schedule.
I had been reading a book that made suggestions on how often he should sleep and be awake based on his age and even offered sample schedules. I tried to implement them and work it around my work schedule, but it just wasn’t working and I was getting stressed. I spoke to someone about it, and she asked me, “Have you tried seeing if he has his own schedule?” That question made me pause because no, I hadn’t. So I experimented, and low and behold we found a great groove based on when he was actually tired versus me forcing him to sleep on my time. It has worked great for us and relieved so much pressure from me!
I started implementing that with feeding time too. I learned pretty quickly that he will eat more food if I let him try to feed himself. It reminded me that if I listen to him and learn how he naturally moves through the world, I can figure out what he will respond better to rather than me trying to force my ways on him all the time.
I need to trust my intuition.
This has been a big one for me. When he was first born, I was so unsure of myself. Throughout this year, I know for sure now that my intuition is strong and is here to guide me!
I’ve build up my intuition by doing the previous tip of listening to and learning my son well. I can better predict his behavior and needs more accurately, and I can better guide my mom who helps take care of him (she doesn’t always listen but usually comes back saying, “You were right.” haha).
I have to advocate for him and myself.
I believe in the power of advocacy and speaking up for what you need, and becoming a mom has shown me even more how important it is. When I was pregnant, I remember one doctor who made me feel silly for the questions I was asking, but I didn’t care and kept asking them! This was my first time and I didn’t know what I was doing, so the only way I would learn is by asking even the smallest of things. Even now at my son’s checkups, I continue to ask questions and I don’t feel weird about it. I can only be the best mom for him when I’m equipped with the proper information.
Currently at home, I work virtually during the day and can’t be with my son to keep him entertained. Because he’s not at daycare, I know that it’s up to our family to practice new skills with him. As the educator in the family, I’ve had to push on making sure we’re reading with him daily and exposing him to new skills so that he’s not doing the same thing every day. There are some things he will learn naturally on his own AND we have to work with him to grow his development.
I must be comfortable with setting boundaries.
Related to the previous lesson on advocacy, I’ve also had to push myself in setting boundaries. With all we’ve experienced in the past year in this global health crisis, we’ve had to make tough calls on who we invite into our home, which events and outings we could or couldn’t attend, set rules with how relatives were allowed to interact with our son to keep him safe.
It can be uncomfortable to ask people to wear a mask around your child, or remind people to wash their hands when they enter your home, but I knew my son’s safety was utmost importance, so I pushed myself to have set those boundaries and stick to them. I also learned that when people are clear on where you stand, they will respect it and decide how to best proceed.
He will get there, even if it’s not at my pace.
This is my current lesson that I’m learning. Since I’m a former teacher, I find myself worrying about him hitting his milestones and wanting to fast track his growth and development. I have to pause myself often and remember that he has his own pace and he will let me know when he’s ready for the next step.
I remember nights where I fretted over whether he would learn to roll over (he did), sit up (he did), eat food (he did), and more. He proves time and again that he will get there, I just need to be patient with his timing and not rush him. It’s almost as if he’s saying to me, “Have faith in me, Mom!”
This past year has been full of challenges and absolutely beautiful moments! I love being his mom and look forward to learning even more!
Now it’s your turn:
What is a lesson you learned in your first year of motherhood? Let me know in the comments below.
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