Life on Cottage Hill: PAGES

Monday, February 7, 2011

lessons from the first year

I had been planning on taking off tomorrow for months now. It was my intention to not work on Jackson's first birthday- and to not work on any of his birthdays for that matter. And then plans changed. 

Instead, the little man got sick yesterday, keeping him (us) up most of the night and clinging to his mama this morning and through the day. So, instead of taking off tomorrow to celebrate his birthday, I took off today to cuddle my baby back to health. In short, plans changed, they adjusted to meet his needs. 

Molding my day, my schedule, my LIFE to him is simply a way of life now. It is one way that I prioritize my role as mother to the most precious piece of my heart. The agility that this requires is not always convenient, it is not always easy or comfortable, but it is what it is- it is necessary and it is one that takes priority. 

It also happens to be just one of the many, many lessons this first year has taught me about motherhood, about parenting, about this enormous, unbelievable responsibility that comes in the form of a the most miraculous blessing. These lessons or realizations may not be the same for every first-time parent, I'm sure we all begin on a slightly different part of the learning curve, but here are mine and I would love to hear if any ring true for you or if you have any additional ones that I forgot because lets face it, loss of memory seems to come along with parenthood at times.

1. My pain, uncomfort, complaints mean nothing now. It's no longer about me, it's about him and I would happily endure any pain, any day if it meant he didn't have to.

2. It is not possible to 100% understand unconditional love until you have a child. And once you do, you can then love others truly unconditionally and can for the first time completely understand how God loves us.

3. You will get sprayed with some type of bodily fluid on an almost daily basis and it will not phase you in the least. 

4. While not optimal, you will find how easy it is to go on little to no sleep day after day. 

5. Speaking of little to no sleep. You will never truly 'sleep through the night again' - even if your child does, you will not. It's a mother thing I think because Dan seems to have no issues with this!

6. "Motherly instinct" is almost eerily accurate and alive the instant you become pregnant. I could re-tell many, many examples of when I have felt this instinct kick in. One of the most frequent of which is when I will wake in the middle of the night, eyes wide open, sit up and watch Jackson on the video monitor- he will be in a deep sleep, but without fail, no more than two minutes later, he will wake up crying for me. It's as if God is giving me a little buffer time to wake up and get ready to go and take care of my little man. 

7. Birth is an absolute miracle. I always knew that, but the lesson for me was that the miracle didn't end once he had arrived, the miracle is lived out every day that he is in our life- watching him grow, learn, discover... it is jaw-dropping amazing every single day.

8. I have always detested abortion, child abuse, child abandonment, child-hurting of any kind, as do most all sane people. But now that he's in my life, hearing and knowing that these things happen every minute of every day to some child in some part of the world is enough to bring me to my knees in tears, to bring me to the brink of insanity. 

9. Having the strongest faith in God, the strongest relationship with Jesus and the most loving marriage with Dan has never been more important. Without these things I cannot be the best possible mother to Jackson. Simply not possible.

10. My health has never been more important either. Not taking care of myself is now not only irresponsible, but it is now selfish. Not taking care of myself means that I am setting a bad example for him and am risking leading a shorter life due to my poor decisions.

11. Speaking of leading by example... my ever action is now constantly studied by this little guy who is hungry to understand the world and looks to me and Dan for his primary instruction- no instruction is more powerful than our actions. This realization in itself is enough to make you question your every move- and that is a good thing. 

12. I have never said the phrases "be careful," "slow down," "drive carefully," more than in the past 12 months.

13. I have also never said the words "I love you" more than in the past 12 months.

14. Breastfeeding is just about the most natural thing in the world and is just about the farthest thing from "gross" or "uncomfortable" as possible... although, I still choose not to do so in public or in front of anyone except Dan whenever possible. That is my personal choice because I highly covet modesty, but it would never offend me for someone else to breastfeed in front of me, ever. 

15. People told me before we had JP to live it up and do whatever it was we wanted to do before he was born and we were "tied down" - I winced at that advice and still do because for me, it could not be farther from the truth. Having Jackson does nothing but push me to want to do, see, experience more with him along our side. 

16. I have always been a big photo-taker, but never dreamed I would take so, so many on a daily basis. But, when you have a little guy with a face that cute you just can't help it.

17. Going back to work has been way harder than I thought it would be. People said it would get easier as time went on, but for me it hasn't. If anything it gets harder. I don't say that to be discouraging to anyone, I just say it to be honest about my experience.

18. The absolute best advice I ever received while expecting Jackson is something I often repeat to myself. And that advice was "everything is a phase" - it is so, so true- for both the good and bad. 

19. Dan and I have (and still are) read countless books and articles on every parenting subject you can think of and this has been beyond valuable to us, opening our eyes to a lot, but at the end of the day we make our final decisions on every thing with our parental instincts. 

20. My love for Dan grows exponentially bigger and stronger each time I see him with Jackson.

...there are so many more lessons and realizations that are popping into my mind, but again my plan shifts and I will now abruptly end this post and go rock my baby back to sleep. 

Stuffy nose + fever = it's going to be a sleepless night!

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