The First Year of Parenting

Both wonderful and exhausting

I knew parenting would be difficult. However, I had no idea just how difficult until I became a mom in December 2019.

If you’re thinking about having kids, I’m here to share the good and the bad of parenting in the first year.

Let’s get the bad out of the way first.

Yes, postpartum is tough.

After giving birth, all women go through postpartum. It’s a challenging period.

I was glad everything went well during labor and that my baby boy was healthy. Yet, my body hurt. My hormones were all over the place. I cried a lot during my early weeks as a mom.

It took a while before I felt like myself again.

Yes, you will miss sleep.

You will be sleep deprived. There’s no way around it. Unless you have one of those rare babies that hardly cries and sleeps through the night, sleep deprivation is to be expected.

The good news is that as babies get older, their sleep needs change. Instead of sleeping in short segments throughout the day, they’ll sleep more at night, and so will you.

If you’re the type of person who loves to sleep in, though, you can kiss those long lazy mornings goodbye.

Yes, your body will hurt.

My back and neck are killing me as I write this. You’re going to spend a great deal of time changing diapers, feeding, holding the baby, bending down to pick up things off the floor, etc. Your body will notice.

Your body is going to hurt. It’s just the way it is. If you can make time to stretch every morning, do so. Even if for five minutes, it will make a difference.

On the bright side, you can ask your partner for a massage. Also, my arms have never been this toned.

Yes, your house will be a mess, and so will you.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I clean my house during the day or pick up things from the floor. Both my husband and I love our home to be clean and organized. Since our child is a tiny Tasmanian devil, we’ve accepted that we can’t keep our house spotless.

During the first few months, I was always covered in milk spit. Now that he’s a one-year-old, I don’t have that issue anymore. Yet, I’m frequently covered in whatever he eats: tomato soup, avocado, oatmeal, you name it.

Yes, strangers will judge you.

When you see parents in a difficult situation, you’re witnessing a single interaction between them. I’m certain it’s not like that all the time.

Please childless adults, show us a little mercy.

Some of the judgemental looks I’ve gotten have made me feel like a crap parent. We’re all doing the best we can.

No matter what you do, some people will have an opinion about your skills as a parent. From the moment I was visibly pregnant, I became a magnet of unwanted opinions. Eventually, you won’t pay attention to them.

Yes, there will be stressful moments.

At the beginning of December, I was at the post office to send my Christmas cards, and my little human didn’t want to be in the stroller. I took him out and held him while I spoke with the post office worker. My mini-me started to hit me and scream. I put him down on the floor, and he began to cry. I picked him up again, and he kept on hitting me.

I could feel frustrated stares while he screamed bloody murder as I put him back in the stroller. I paid, walked out, and breastfed him on a bench nearby. After that, he was his usual curious and active self. He was hungry, that’s all.

Brace yourself; parenting has highly stressful moments. They might happen while you’re doing groceries, while you are out at a restaurant or the bank. Many will happen at home too.

All kids have moments of frustration. In those moments, try to tune the world out and focus on connecting with your kid.

It’s in difficult situations when your child needs you the most.

To better understand my son, I’ve been reading about positive discipline. It’s a method focused on active listening, empathizing, and connecting.

Yes, you will miss time with your partner.

I miss spending time with my husband. As first-time parents, we had to figure many things out, from how to change a diaper to dealing with teething, feverish nights, and more. Naturally, our relationship has changed.

At times, we have stupid arguments. Exhaustion stresses both our minds and bodies. When we’re physically, emotionally, and mentally drained, we’re more likely to lose our temper and lash out.

Our main focus in 2020 has been our son. Throw in the mix a global pandemic, working from home, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning, and we had zero time for each other.

We have to work harder at being a team and communicating.

The beginning was the hardest. Everything was new. On the bright side, we’ve grown a lot as a couple.

I can proudly say we went on a date the other day. The spark is still there.

Yes, you will also miss yourself.

While being a mother is wonderful in many ways, I wish I had more time for myself.

Some days I miss doing nothing. Some days I miss hanging out with my friends or going out for drinks. Some days I miss working on my projects.

At the same time, I know that he’ll be this little only once. I’m working on enjoying the present and being present.

The good outweighs everything else.

Motherhood is so much more than I ever imagined.

I never knew I could love someone so much. I can’t imagine my life without him. Having a kid has been one of the best things that have happened to me.

Watching our child grow is one of our greatest joys. He’s learning and absorbing information constantly.

I enjoy witnessing how he discovers the world around him. I’ve begun to see it through his eyes.

He makes me want to be a better person. By learning about his brain and development I have a newfound compassion for people.

Yes, I’m tired, my body has changed, and I don’t have as much time with my husband. However, when I hold him in my arms, everything else just fades away.

My heart feels full.

Parenting is a beautiful and exhausting experience.

Parenting truly is beautiful. You’ll laugh, cry, learn, and grow. But, I won’t lie to you either. It’s exhausting.

Your life will be forever changed. My husband and I wanted to be parents, and we’re grateful our dream came true. Yet, we are both quick to admit that it’s no bed of roses.

Parenting has forced my partner and me to pay closer attention to our emotions, communicate better, work as a team, and support each other.

It has made us look at ourselves with fresh eyes. Who do we want our son to be? To raise a compassionate, kind, and caring human being, we have to set the example. We have a ton of work ahead of us.

I don’t know everything there’s to know about parenting. I’m new at this job! However, I think being a good parent is about being there for your child, listen and connect with them, help them reach their potential, pay attention to their emotions, and love them unconditionally.

As challenging as parenting is, it also is a beautiful adventure.

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Writer. Creative artist. Photographer. Feminist.

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