I’ve learned a whole lot in my first year of motherhood, and there’s one big lesson I want to share. I’m learning to see what’s in front of me rather than getting carried away with my worries.
This past year with each big change in Emily’s development I found myself getting overwhelmed and even scared. A few milestones that stand out in my mind are switching her from her bassinet to her crib, introducing her to solid foods, giving her supplemental formula, and teaching her to fall asleep on her own through sleep training. All of these changes seem small in hindsight but seemed insurmountable at the time.
I found myself becoming obsessed with the BEST way to do things. I told myself if I made the “wrong” decision I would cause serious damage to Emily. I’m not kidding when I say I would run away to crazy places in my mind.
The thing is when I look back I see that even if I did things differently, Emily would be totally fine. There’s really no best way to do things. What’s most important is really seeing the human being in front of me rather than getting caught up in the “shoulds” of parenting.
Case in point the latest “problem” I’ve been pondering. In the past month or so Emily has gotten into the habit of falling asleep while drinking her last bottle of the evening. For a few days I found myself in a dark cloud of worry while I gave her that last bottle. I would tell myself, this is a very bad habit. I would tell myself, this needs to stop ASAP. I would run the phrase, “You should always put your baby down awake” over and over in my mind and convince myself I was somehow failing. I would feel shame.
Then tonight as I held Emily in my arms while she drank her bottle, she played with my hair and her eyes began to close. I looked down at her sweet serene face and I thought- SEE WHAT’S IN FRONT OF YOU. Right there in my arms was my sweet baby girl playing with my hair and falling asleep in my arms. I mean, she still fits in my arms. How amazing is that?
I reminded myself that the beauty of that moment was fleeting. Emily won’t always fall asleep in her mama’s arms and want to play with her mama’s hair. This was a moment for me to cherish NOT a moment for me to run away with fear, worry and shame.
If I push aside all of the “shoulds.” If I stop comparing myself and my child to other moms and children. If I really sit down and feel what my instinct is telling me, I know we are okay. I know when the time is right we will take the bottle away. I also know Emily is a capable human being who can fall asleep on her own just fine when we decide to make that change. She’s okay. She’s more than okay.
Moms and dads out there- please hear me when I say this. SEE WHAT’S IN FRONT OF YOU. See what’s there today and try not to get carried away with the tomorrows. I know how easy it is to fear that you’re somehow failing or doing things wrong. But if you can pause, breathe and see the human being in front of you, you’ll remember that nothing else really matters except that deep love you feel inside. Enjoy the little moments of today because they pass by and become the big moments of tomorrow.
You’re doing great. Just keep on seeing what’s in front of you.