Friday, 28 August 2015

Mommy Musing: Three Stages of the First Year

The first year with your first child is both the longest and the shortest year of your life. The days can be filled with both joy and exhaustion, both peace and panic, and both priceless memories... and moments you only wish you could forget. As I reflect on the blur that was my first year with a son, I've picked out three distinct phases that I went through along with him. If you're a parent, I hope you will laugh and commiserate. If you're not yet a parent, well, I hope I don't scare you too much.

She was awake just before you got here...
Stage One: The Potato Phase (birth to 4 months)

Parenting a newborn is like being the owner of town fair winning Idaho Red - you're incredibly proud after months of work, and everyone is eager to see the results... at first. You see, they don't do much. They're adorable, fun to cuddle, and amazing to watch, but mostly if you're family. Friends without kids likely can't fathom that, despite that fact that they only seem to be eating or pooping, if they are not asleep, that they do this at irregular intervals through out the day and night, leaving you absolutely exhausted. So, you likely haven't see that blockbuster or have tried that trendy new restaurant. Friends with kids will probably have war stories from later on, and won't really sympathize either. Well, they do, in that head nodding kind of way that will make you wonder what you've gotten yourself into. It can be tough, but it's worth it. You just don't always realize that at 3am.

My tip? NANA's HOUSE

Go to your mothers, your aunts, your grandparent. Take a nap, take a shower, take a free meal for pete's sake. You need your strength!

Did he just clap? That was amazing!
Stage Two: Did You See That? (5-8 months)

Somewhere around the 5th month of your child's life, you start to see an awakening. They smile, they can hold focus on a toy, make some giggles, possibly crawl... It starts to be that everything they do is absolutely incredible. If you didn't before, by now you're ready to put an ad in the newspaper every time your child does something new. Your Facebook feed is horrendously packed with little snippets and photos, and you've been out of regular adult conversation long enough to believe that you've given birth to the next Einstein. It's exciting, but it's also scary, because you start to worry about every decision you make, and how it might stunt or increase your child's development. Do I have to make all organic home purees? Should I play classical music while she sleeps? No toys with batteries, we need to encourage his creativity!

My tip? Mommy Groups

When you need to brag a little, compare what's normal, and ask advice on age appropriate brain stimulus, it's okay, because SO DO THEY! A safe (and free) place like the Ontario Early Years program also include resident Public Health Nurses and print resources from a reputable source.

Stage Three: Teething and Walking (9 months plus)

By this point, you've got a certain grasp of parenting. It's never easy, but you've seen some stuff. You probably dealt with a cold, an untimely poo-splosion, a fall, a sleep regression... and you think things are going well. Until they stand up for the first time. Pride is quickly swept away by absolute terror as you wonder if their legs can support themselves, and why you didn't replace your coffee table with a padded ottoman sooner. They get brave, they get braver, they sometimes get hurt. Perhaps even more troublesome than the amount of Sesame Street bandages and ice you now need on hand, is the sudden onset of cutting teeth. For my son, they came in bulk starting around 5 months, but the molars were the worst. A happy, sleeping baby is suddenly an inconsolable mess! If you've gotten used to sleeping through the night, or have to go to work the next day, the panic is worse for you than baby! You rack your brain, you try every trick in the book, you consider the hospital (for yourself more than baby), and finally you realize what's happening. 

My tip? Oh heck... I don't even know what to tell you.

The thing is, parenting can be like paradise with landmines. You love your child so much, that any disruption in the natural order is going to be a pain, but you can handle it. A mommy once told us that, if you're losing your grip, give that baby a hug. It might not help them, but it will certainly help you. It's an adventure alright, but it's the best one ever!

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