We did it! We survived the first year of our son’s life. We made it through my dream of a drug-free labor. We survived a cross-country move with a six-week-old. We crawled through postpartum depression. We accomplished so much with breastfeeding. We grappled with postpartum body image.
And our son is now one year old.
Whether you’re a fellow toddler mom looking for solidarity, a pregnant mom looking for some insight, or someone who just loves to babysit cute babies and then give them back to their parents, I want to share some survival tips that have aided me through this first year. Not because I’ve got it all down pat, or because having a one-year-old makes me an expert at this mom thing, but because, sometimes, it’s nice to have someone just a bit further along — or right there in the trenches with you — to remind you that you aren’t alone!
It’s Not Impossible
I still vividly remember our midwife putting Wynn into my arms for the first time. I had collapsed onto the birth stool, stunned by the magnitude of what I’d just done (Yes, guys, birth stool: things got real). He came out squealing and red-faced, and he felt awkward and foreign in my arms. I looked down into his eyes and felt the weight of responsibility. The little kicks, flips, and hiccups that had been going on inside of me for nine months belonged to an entire person, and that person was now in my care.
I was petrified.
Throughout this year, I’ve had to remind myself again and again that parents have been raising babies since Eve. And yes, there have been some hiccups along the way, but I was made to be able to care for this little boy.
You Don’t Have To Do It Alone
And I didn’t have to care for him alone.
I quickly had to learn to ask my husband for help. There is no award for being the overworked, rundown mom who’s so tired and frustrated that she can’t even see straight. There is no prize for being the wife who doesn’t allow her husband to be an integral part of raising his child.
There is so much value in speaking up.
I don’t just do it with Phillip (who, by the way, is an excellent and hands-on dad), or just with hands-on help.
I also do it with advice. People who are my Facebook friends are used to be popping up every couple of weeks and asking numerous questions about the best high chairs, the best milk alternatives, or the best postpartum supplements. Don’t be afraid of looking silly! After all, this is an entire person you’re in charge of; you are allowed to ask for outside opinions and weigh options.
So whether you’re picking out the best first foods for baby, or you need someone to come over and take him off of your hands so that you can get an hour of shut-eye, don’t be afraid to reach out. You do not have to do it alone.
You Are The Boss
After eyeing a few of my Facebook crowd-sourcing over what kind of milk to offer Wynn after he weaned, a well-meaning mom friend quipped, “Just offer him whatever you want!” Why are you asking? (Ironically offering unsolicited advice and critiquing my parenting choices while doing so. We can’t help it!)
Mommy advice can get so overwhelming sometimes. Especially the sort that’s unsolicited. This year, I decided to head off the unsolicited advice by not being afraid to ask for advice when I wanted it. I did so 1) to embrace the humility of my first-time mom status, and 2) because I knew other moms might have similar questions. It’s been an interesting social experiment, and I’ve learned a lot!
However, we do need to know when to draw a line in the sand and assert our authority as the boss.
At the end of the day, the child has been given to you to shepherd. Yes, that shepherding does happen in community. But trying to please everyone with every mom decision is a surefire way to run yourself ragged.
God Is Sovereign
Ultimately, whatever advice you take, and whatever decisions you make on your own, I hope you’re comforted, as I am, by the fact that God is sovereign over the life of your sweet baby.
I marveled this morning at the fact that Wynn has been breathing for three hundred and sixty-five days. I stood over his crib many a night to make sure of that fact. We’ve made an ER trip. We’ve had a doctor’s office scare. We’ve battled fevers. And Wynn is still here.
He’s still here because God is good.
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26
Your little one is God’s creation. He will do right by that tiny soul.
You Will Grow
Whatever happens during the first year of your child’s life, you will grow. You will gain patience, humility, grace, and love in ways that you never imagined. There’s a reason why God uses paternal metaphors to describe his relationship with us; the love we have for our children is just a microscopic hint of how well he cares for us, and loving them will teach us more about him.
My son is officially a year old. I no longer have an infant at home, but a rambunctious little toddler. We made it!
And you will, too. Hang in there. Enjoy the ride. It’s over way too fast.
I’ve been in Atlanta all week with my husband. We’re here half for ministry (for me), part for work (for him), and part for some quality time with just us two. We left on the heels of hosting my family all the way from Zambia. In fact, seven of my siblings, my mom, and my dad are back in our eighteen hundred square foot home with our sons. I should be laying in a hotel bed binging Parks and Rec with my husband. And I will be soon. But I have something to say about motherhood and mom guilt.
A few months ago, I wrote an article for Legacy about friendship. In it, I tried to be as honest as possible about the struggle of being a transplant in Mississippi’s foreign culture, and my own hang-ups with making new friends. I hit send. Weeks passed. A couple of months. Then the article went live. And I had more than one friend reach out to me and ask me if we were okay. “I thought we were friends!” Undercover Trust Issues I’m not a journaler, and I try not to use my articles as thinly veiled diary entries. However, there…