There are many things I have learned the past 5 1/2 weeks as a newborn mom. Much of this newfound knowledge has stemmed from talking with other mothers, endless google searches, a few great parenting books, and a bit of trial and error. However, some of the greatest lessons I have learned have come from the greatest teacher of all- my newborn son.
1. Never underestimate the power of a good cuddle
Whether your tired, uncomfortable, sad, or just in a snuggly mood… a good cuddle can make anyone feel better. Physical touch and being held closely to someone you love has the power to slow your heart rate, calm your anxiety, and elevate your mood. The best part about baby cuddles? They go both ways. They have the magic of not only soothing baby, but also provide great comfort to the holder of the cuddle as well. Plus, that new baby smell is an extra bonus!
2. Baths cure almost everything
There is something purely magical about bath water. The warm water surrounding you almost immediately sends you to another place… your happy place. I think we can all agree that even as adults, baths have the same effect. Our greatest challenge is finding the time to allow ourselves this simple pleasure.
3. Always choose sleep
Sometimes life (or gas) gets in the way of a good night’s sleep. The day following usually ends up being a rough one. I have learned to follow in Luca’s footsteps and make up for it with a few great, 3 hour siestas. Laundry, lunch, your TV series, and even work can be set aside for awhile. Sleep is always worth it.
4. Outside is better than inside
I swear, Luca can be crying, screaming his head off, and turning purple. This in turn, causes parental panic, feelings of complete failure as a mom and throw-your-hands-up-in-the-air-helplessness. Then, all of a sudden… as soon as we step outside… the calm immediately returns, his rosy cheeks are back, and his eyes are wide, taking in the world around him. Go outside. Feel the sun on your face, the breeze on your skin. See the world. It’s better out there.
Babies are great communicators. Some may say they cry a lot. However, one of my favorite things I have learned from my baby is his communication patterns. When we are tuned it, babies communicate incredibly clearly. We learn the meanings of their different cries, their physical cues, and we become empathetic to their efforts to communicate with their little world. I find it fascinating and feel compelled to practice such clear, consistent communication of my own needs, in my own life.
5. Don’t hold a grudge
Speaking of communication. Babies and dogs are amazing creatures of emotion. Ever noticed how excited a dog gets when someone arrives at the front door? The dog greats the visitor with a turbo speed wag of the tail, heavy panting, and what seems to be a great, big smile. However, as soon as the moment is over, the dog channels Taylor Swift and literally “shakes it off”, sitting back down, calmly, where he was before the exciting visit.
The same goes for babies. Because of their clear communication patterns, they cry. When they are hungry, they cry. As soon as they have their food, they stop. When they are ready to get up from their nap, they cry. When you pick them up, they stop (regardless how long you’ve left them in there). When they are bored, they cry. When you divert their attention and entertain them, they stop. And yes, when you leave them alone for 10 minutes so you can take a shower, they cry. A lot. But, when you return and hold them close to your chest, they stop. Babies don’t hold a grudge. Neither should we. Love easily, forgive quickly.
6. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re not
Since Luca’s first day of life, I was blown away by how “smart” he was. I find nature so fascinating and was in awe as I watched Luca’s natural instincts take effect immediately. Breastfeeding is a true miracle and I feel so blessed that Luca and I have been able to feed in this manner without much challenge. He was a natural from the start. In addition, I am truly impressed how he asks to eat only when he is hungry and stops as soon as his little tummy is full. It is a lesson I think I could benefit from in my own life as well 😉
7. It’s ok to ask for help sometimes
Asking for help as an adult can be hard. We need to put our pride to the side and place ourselves in a vulnerable position. Vulnerability can often feel uncomfortable as an adult. Babies however, are in a constant state of vulnerability. They need help to accomplish everything in their lives from eating, to getting dressed, to pooping even! But you know what? They accomplish everything they need when they receive help from someone they love. And you don’t see them laying around with a wounded ego, do you?
8. The beauty of unconditional love
It is impossible to imagine a love like the one you share with your own child. For me, it was immediate and I know it will never cease to exist. It will also never cease to amaze me. It is a love that is all-consuming, joyful, painful, and beautiful all at the same time. A love that is somewhat one-sided for now, but nonetheless powerful. Parenthood is an act of love and an everyday practice of being loving.