The baby is one today. Which means that I also have been a mother for a year.
A few things stuck out to me today when I was pondering it all. I remembered clearly sitting in the hospital bed on one of the top floors. My sister and Brian were passed out on the little built-in couch in the room, and my own mother was sitting beside me for a bit. The two sleepers stirred and I pulled myself back from the drowsiness I had sunk into when they gave me the epidural after thirteen hours of labor. It had now been almost twenty hours since the contractions started.
Someone pulled back the vertical blinds and together the four of us watched the sun rise over the hills in the distance, knowing it wouldn’t be long until we met the fifth person in the room.
Motherhood is hard, mostly because you have no idea what to do and there are a million conflicting “methods” out there to make it even worse. I still have no idea, I’ll be honest, but I have a set of mores in place that allow me to review the options, evaluate them against our goals, and then make a gut-call.
Here’s what I strive for:
- Respect the baby’s wants, needs, and bodily autonomy when you can
- Be compassionate when you can’t
- Don’t leave him alone to cry (even if it means you’re sitting in his bedroom crying together)
- Arrange things to avoid fighting as much as possible (climbing on that table? Replace the table with something he won’t climb on)
- Have him do as much as he can for himself
I find that if I weigh what’s happening currently and all the methods that are out there against the following five criteria, I end up with a solution that usually works pretty well for everyone. Sometimes it takes more than one try, but often it doesn’t.
I’ll be honest when I say that I’m worried about next year. I hear things about Two tantrums that make me think I might not handle it well. But I guess this year has given me a process for figuring it out. And that’s not nothing.
Cheers – to another year of becoming better at this mothering thing…