I have 16 nieces and nephews… and 1 on the way this August. I am no stranger to babies, but perhaps one of the most special feelings aside from being an aunt to the children of my siblings and in-laws is watching my close friends have children. There is something about watching one of your good friends have their first child… and then their second, and even their third. It’s like getting to see mini versions of your friends with unique new personalities, and you get to watch your friends tackle one of the biggest challenges they will ever face: parenting.
Yesterday, a couple friends visited me in Madison. One of them brought the youngest of her 3 kids, 11-month-old Barrett. He’s a smiley angel baby. He only brought additional joy to our day. And I got to find out how “child-proof” my house is (it’s not). 😉
Amongst our conversations of life and marriage, the topic of children came up, and I wanted to share a few things I gleaned from that conversation and others I have had with my other mom-friends over the past year or so. While I consider myself more of a “late bloomer” with my friends (I was among the last of my friends to get married and now will be later in line with starting my own family), it definitely has its advantages. One of them is free advice and real-life examples of what my future may look like! It’s nice to have that built in, not only as something to look forward to, but also for a reality check every now and again. For all of you current mommies or moms-to-be out there, here are 3 thoughts I’ll share today that I have learned from my awesome mom friends:
1. Enjoy the “Present” of The Present
We all get a case of it from time to time; the “I wish I was in THAT stage of life” syndrome. Before we are married, we just want to be married. When we DO get married, then we just want kids. When we have that first sweet newborn, we look to our friends and wish our baby that slept all day was older and could interact. When we have a crazy 2-year-old, we wish they would just go to kindergarten. And the list goes on. It’s easy to look at others or to the future and want what we don’t currently have, all the while missing what we DO have. There is something to be treasured in each season of life. It might be full of joy or it might be full of challenges and lessons, but at any rate, I have learned not to miss the moments of today because I’m too busy pining after my tomorrow.
2. Life After 1: It’s Much Simpler than It will Seem After 2,3, and 4.
The thing about having your first child is exactly that– it’s your first. It’s exciting, it’s fun, but it’s NEW. It’s exhilarating and it’s terrifying. Everything is a “first.” It may seem like your life has been turned upside down. You no longer sleep or seem to have time for the things that you used to take for granted when you had no child at all. But one thing I have heard over and over by mom-friends of multiples is “I didn’t realize how easy I had it with just one child. I wish I had gone out more. Done more things. It’s so much busier with two, or three, or four.” The problem is that when you just have one, you have nothing to compare it against except your life with none. But once you’ve added a couple more into the mix, the ease you actually had before quickly shifts into perspective. I’m not saying having one kid is ALWAYS easy. You may have a child who requires extra attention or has a disability, or just an extra busy child. But in general, what I am hearing is that you shouldn’t stop living your life when your first kid comes along. In a way, you set the tone with your first for how you will function as a parent throughout parenthood. Still get out of the house. Find a way to do the activities you enjoyed as a couple with a +1. Go on weekend getaways, plan trips, go to the zoo– grab ice cream. Do these things while it’s still relatively “easy,” and in the advice from #1, enjoy the present.
3. Time Slows for No One
Time doesn’t pause when your baby turns 3 months. Or when baby learns to take his first step. Or eats her first ice cream cone. I think it actually gets faster. All the more reason to capture every moment. That sounds so cliche, but if you don’t take the time to record the moments now, you never will. It’s easy to think, “Oh, I’ll remember. I’ll remember how my oldest used to do this, and my youngest used to do that.” Write it down. Take pictures. Take video. Organize it all… even create little folders on your computer with their names on it and group everything together by years and months. You’ll want those things to look back on. They are growing so fast– right before your very eyes– that they are already older by the time you’ve written down the memory. They are learning at the fastest rate they ever will; their little brains are like sponges, discovering new things every day and developing new parts of their personality. Enjoy capturing ways to remember who they are today.
Moms of kids… you’re doing great. Enjoy these moments of fulfilling the most important job you’ll ever have.