My dad’s a quiet guy who has a particular knack for observing human nature and commenting on it in concise, yet profound terms. In the midst of the hellish exhaustion and complete whirlwind of first-time parenting, three of his axioms became my motherhood mantras.
1. Go with the flow.
My son broke every rule in the baby playbook. He arrived 2 weeks early, had no patience for breastfeeding, plays and laughs through colds and stomach bugs, prefers savory to sweet, and still hates napping. His body can’t keep up with his curious mind. When I told him his nickname would be Sherlock he chuckled with an ironic grin as if he totally got the joke. (Something tells me he did.) I love him for every bit of his awesome self now, but having to throw out the image of a cuddly, sleepy baby peacefully breastfeeding in bed for hours on end was tough. It shouldn’t have been, but every woman meets the reality of motherhood with a shock of one kind or another. Reminding myself to go with the flow helped me get through a lot of painfully exhausting moments. It also helped me see past what I thought I wanted to enjoy the blessing of what I have.
2. This too shall pass.
I have cried, shaken, and been dizzy with exhaustion more times than I can count over the past six months. Being that tired will play on your body’s worst enemies. Each time I battled migraines, acid reflux or anxiety my dad would calmly say, “This too shall pass.” Sure enough, it did. If I wrapped myself in the frustration and pain, it would feel endless. Reminding myself that the exhaustion would pass not only encouraged me to feel better, but to focus on enjoying every moment with my son, both the good and the frustrating. Because this time with him will pass, and there are certain things about every stage that I will miss.
3. It will be what it will be.
I cannot force my son to do something he does not want to do, or cannot yet comprehend how to do. We still struggle to get him to nap in his crib instead of on one of us. No trick in the book will convince him that his crib is as good during the day as it is at night. So, what we could view as a huge time-waster has become an opportunity for us to rest or relax together (albeit with the TV at an incredibly low volume). This experience, as with every other, will be what we make it: Pleasure or pain, good or bad. Life is about encountering people and circumstances that to some degree are completely out of our control. What we can control is our attitude toward the challenges we face. One day my son won’t be napping on me anymore. What will I want to remember when I look back on this time: The frustration of not getting a load of laundry done, or his beautiful face smiling up at me as I rock him to sleep?