Tomorrow Sofia will be 4 months… I can’t believe how fast time flies by! And I might have not mastered the art of independent baby napping yet but motherhood has already taught me some very important life lessons:
1. Always start a day with a smile 😊 No matter how good or bad Sofia slept, whether the day before was an easy one or a hard one – vaccinations I m looking at you! – she always starts the new day with a smile as if she is sure that this will certainly be a good day. Which brings me to the next thing…
2. Every day is a new day. Life with a baby means that not one day will be the same as the next one. You can schedule all you like but ultimately they will shape the day in a unique day.
They will discover new things, develop new skills all in a matter of a day. They will reject things they used to love up until a minute ago and warm up to things you have written off as “things-my baby-hates”. They will ask you to face a new challenge, cross yet another milestone and finish the day exhausted but proud.
And some days, a little bit broken…
3. Pay attention to the present moment. I love watching Sofia exploring the world. She’s never in a rush ( well only when she’s “hangry”), she’s taking her time to explore everything with all her senses and she’s in awe of the smallest things, sitting still and admiring them for ages. She has taught me the beauty of slowing down and taking the moment to take the present time all in.
I used to try to multi-task whilst breastfeeding, especially the first weeks and during growth spurts when you feel like you are one with the sofa or bed.. I was replying to emails, placing orders of things we need, you name it. After a while though I surrendered to taking the time to look at my daughter, smell her hair, touch her hand or just take a breath and focus on how I m feeling.
4. Life is better when you are flexible. As I mentioned before, not one day with a new baby is the same as the previous one. This is something I struggled the most with. I’m someone who loves to work on a schedule and plan things in advance. This has now flown out the window but I have found that when I let go of my need to control everything I end up enjoying the day more.
5. Feel the fear and do it anyway. First day at home with her on my own, first time out with the pram, first visit to a friend’s house… They all left me terrified before doing them for the first time. But I had no alternative but to go ahead and do them all. And so I did.
Somethings things went very smoothly, others had #mumfail written all over them. But I felt better after taking the plunge regardless of the outcome and much more confident for the next time. This is something I want to apply to many other aspects of my life.
6. Surround yourself with people in the same position as you. Before giving birth I rejected this idea. My friend Bev told me that I was going to need to build a network of new mums like myself and I was almost annoyed by it. I have so many amazing friends, why would I need new ones? I wasn’t going to be one of these mums that only talk about their babies anyway…
Well I was both wrong and naive. Having a baby can be very, very lonely and sometimes the only people that can understand exactly what you are going through are people that are at the exactly same phase in life. Attending an NCT class and making friends with a group of women at the exact stage of motherhood as myself has made the post-partum journey so much easier. I can discuss all the baby-related nuances with them without feeling boring or annoying and I have good company too.
7. Me time is important in order to be a good mum. Motherhood comes with a lot of guilt. And I think this guilt comes from the pressure that society imposes to new mothers (men are a different story somehow) to let go of their former self and turn into someone who is mainly a #blessed mum. I have felt guilt for feeling exhausted, for wanting to be alone away from my baby, from missing my husband -the first couple of months of the baby’s life we were like passing ships that were sleeping, eating etc in shifts- for missing my job… I felt I was not grateful enough and I was challenging my luck.
Now I know that I may be a mum but it’s ok to still be Eleni. I know that if I don’t prioritise selfcare and even just 30 minutes of me-time every single day, I won’t be the mum I want to be.
8. Everything is a phase. Colics, growth spurs, colds, they all suck but they all come and go. Things don’t stay hard forever and before you know it you are over the challenge sailing on smooth sea. Until the next phase 🙈
9. Humour and laughter save the day. Fabio and I sometimes find ourselves exhausted trying to calm a fussy baby in the middle of the night or navigating other situations that are very new to us. Laughing about it always makes things so much easier and puts them in the right perspective.
10. The child in me is still very much alive! I often find myself enjoying Sofia’s books and toys more than she does and it’s actually good for my soul.