I’m certain every parent has experienced it… that moment when you pull away from the hospital in your car. You look at your newborn babe who’s safely buckled in their carseat and contemplate the drive home as if it’s a mission to transport one tonne of nitroglycerin through the most treacherous terrain. The journey is slow and deliberate.
Having that baby in the car was perhaps one of the most surreal experiences in my life. Somehow, just a day earlier, we came to the hospital as a family of two and now, we were leaving with another human being in the back seat.
Over the weeks that followed, I was astounded by the feelings of overwhelm, confusion, helplessness, adoration, love, and utter exhaustion.
There were so many things to learn!
I had to learn how to breastfeed (and stick with it even when my breasts ached from being engorged and were infected with mastitis).
I had to learn how to let go of routines and schedules while embracing the randomness that comes with having an infant.
In all of this, I grappled with fear, worry, and anxiety.
Was the baby eating enough? Pooping enough? Healthy enough?
Then I had to deal with learning how to do new things with her… like bathing her. Our poor baby girl didn’t have a bath until she was a few weeks old because my husband and I were too nervous to dunk her in a shallow tub of water.
In all these things we muddled, wrestled, and grappled with the newness of everything.
At times I felt like it was the steepest learning curve of my life because in the scheme of life, isn’t this the most important thing I’ll ever do? To think of how I used to worry about the results of a research paper or a presentation! Those aspects of my life seemed so trivial in comparison to the higher call and duty to raise a child.
The lessons were relentless, especially in that first year of my daughter’s life. Looking back, I think the exhaustion I experienced was not only due to the child who woke several times every night but also because my brain was overloaded with thoughts of how to raise this baby the “right” way.
We went from babyhood to toddlerhood and suddenly I had to learn firsthand how to allow my child to safely experience autonomy. I had to give her more freedom but also ensure she could test skills without hurting herself. It felt like as soon I was beginning to master a stage, she graduated into another one.
Phase by phase, we moved through lessons, experiences, and challenges.
As I look back at these moments in raising my children, I can confidently say that my biggest and most unexpected parenting lesson was that, the learning is never done.
This lesson, at times, is hard for me to grasp.
When you learn how to change a lightbulb, you have that skill for life.
When you learn how to drive a car, the skill is always the same.
There are so many facets of life that require you to learn something but once you learn it, you know it.
Parenting doesn’t operate this way. You could learn what works for a child and it may not work for another child. You may feel like you have a grasp on how to lead your child but a few months later, they could require a completely different approach.
Just thinking about it exhausts me.
So how do I stay invigorated and excited to learn new parenting skills?
1- Time with God.
God has given me these children to love and care for. They are not mine… they are His. When I acknowledge the hierarchy and pray for God’s direction in how to lead His children, I am at peace.
2- Breaks and rest.
Taking time for self-care is crucial. Parenting is hard work. Just like any other job, we need breaks… even if it’s for just an hour or two every day. It’s so important to take some time for yourself.
Our children and the world around us is constantly changing. It’s crucial to take time to reflect on our parenting journey. Whether it’s to contemplate lessons learned or to strategize how to correct an issue; we need to take time to pause and ponder our journey.
My Becoming a Deliberate Mom: Reflective Parenting Workbook is an original and unique tool to help you through the process of reflecting on your parenting journey. I’ve worked through this process a couple times already and it helps me fine-tune my parenting vision.
Reflection also fosters thankfulness. When I look back on the milestones achieved and the obstacles that were overcome, I’m often full of awe and wonder. Children are beautiful and amazing gifts – I’m so thankful for them.
4- Seek joy.
Whenever I feel burnt out, I seek joy. Whether it’s watching a silly video or reading a funny book, joy always rejuvenates me.