Littlest Man just turned one, and while I love birthdays and was so excited to celebrate, there’s definitely a tinge of sadness that my baby is officially leaving infancy and entering toddlerhood.
Although parenting isn’t new to me as I’ve been doing it almost 10 years now, this time around I’m still kind of just winging it. I actually found motherhood much harder this time round. For me, it wasn’t as much the jump to having two kids because Eldest Little Man is pretty self sufficient a lot of the time and super helpful. It was more the fact that I kept comparing myself to this imaginary me that I had in my head of the mum who had her shit together. I put a lot of pressure on myself to know what I was doing this time, and set my expectations pretty high, so it’s no wonder I struggled to live up to my own standards. Hindsight (and therapy) is a wonderful thing to make you realise you were actually doing OK all along.
So, since Littlest Man and I have reached the one year milestone, I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned over the past year.
Each child is different
I always thought I knew this, especially being one of four kids, but it was driven home a whole lot more after actually having a second child. My boys have a lot of similarities, but there are also huge individualities which still managed to take me a bit by surprise. This is good though – it means they will be able to learn from each other and help each other out when they’re older… Hopefully!
Tiredness and busyness (and fun! And love!!) increase at a very disproportionate rate to child count
I thought having a second child would mean the chaos would just double, so I mentally prepared for that. It doesn’t. It expands at a rate faster than a black hole – and this is coming from someone who has quite a big gap, so I am in awe of those with two (or more) under five… I don’t know how you do it! They should build statues in your honour. Or at least provide you with a steady supply of free massages. Or wine. Or both! Anyway…
I was also worried about whether it was true that you love all your children equally or whether I’d be a horrible person who hugely favoured one over the other. But rest assured, it is true. Subsequent children just make your heart grow bigger (it is also totally a different story and totally OK to sometimes like one more than the other at certain times when one is being an angel and the other considerably less so).
It’s OK to ask for help
I know I harp on and on about this, but it’s true. Talk to people. Let them in. Don’t be afraid to ask for support when you need it – dads, this goes for you too. I know men quite often like to be all macho and some shit, but you don’t have to walk around with the whole world on your shoulders. It ain’t good for your posture.
Try to remember to offer support to others who may be resisting asking for it as well. Sometimes helping others can give us a sense of purpose and therefore can help ourselves as well… Not to mention the warm fuzzies that come with it! If you need to just take care of yourself though, by all means – do so. And do so without guilt, because sometimes we all need to just take a break and focus on looking after ourselves.
It’s OK to not love parenthood all the time
We love our kids, but the first year can be really hard. Babies have limited communication, and their interaction is less obvious than the later years (even though there is a ton of valuable stuff going on in their brain), so it’s totally OK to feel like you haven’t quite found your groove in that first year. It can also be super hard to dads to feel connected in those early days when all baby wants is mum and her milkshakers. Of course, the first year is super exciting and full of milestones and achievements and is generally really awesome, but don’t panic if you still feel like you haven’t “got it” at the one year mark. Some parents find they come into their own in the second and third years when they’re able to do a bit more with their littlies, others find they enjoy the school aged years more. As long as you feel like you’re coping and mentally feeling OK and mostly enjoying being a parent in general, then it’s allllll gravy, baby.
Different parents have different strengths – which is great!
Some parents are awesome at story telling (like my mum), some are brilliant at music time, and some are better at explaining how things work (like my dad). No parent is perfect at everything, and different kids will respond to different styles anyway. So if, for example, singing with your baby isn’t your thing, don’t let that make you feel like a failure – I bet you’re still rocking parenthood, and can pretty much guarantee your kids still think you’re fantastic. On that note though, even if you have a less than stellar singing voice, if you enjoy it then go for it! Your baby will think you sound marvellous, I promise.
Personally, I’m not very good at rough and tumble play – that’s definitely my Future Hubby’s area of expertise – but I am really good at things like reading stories, doing crafts or carrying out and explaining simple science experiments. So don’t beat yourself up over the areas you don’t enjoy or don’t think you’re good at – and you can always outsource those parts to your partner or friends who are good at them!
It’s so important to have a village
I’m so lucky to have lots of mum friends, both online and in real life, and I honestly don’t know what I’d do without them. They’re my lifeline, my support network, my source of entertainment and my sound board. I didn’t know many other mums when Eldest Little Man was younger, and certainly none my age, and it got really lonely at times. I had friends, who I adored and were (and still are) absolutely wonderful, but it’s important to have people who are on the same journey as you as well.
So those are a few of the things I’ve learnt this past year. What lessons has parenthood taught you? I’d love to know below or on the Facebook page ❤