11 Lessons in 11 Months of Motherhood

Zachary is 11 Months Old today and as his 1st birthday quickly approaches I am taking a moment to stop and reflect on how much my life has changed since he's entered it. I knew having a baby would be an adjustment, but not that every detail of my life would change. 

I continually wonder how self-centered I used to be since, for some reason, I ALWAYS felt busy, yet, now, I no longer do anything for myself. I spend every moment consumed by taking care of and meeting every need of my 11-month old. What did I used to do that took up so much of my time? It really was all about me before there was him.

I'm deeply proud of how much my life has changed. I see the fingerprints of God all over it and I'm amazed at the ways this new life as a Mother have changed me.

Here are my top 11 lessons learned in 11 months of Motherhood

Lesson 1 - My house will never be spotless again
I have a MUCH higher standard than most people when it comes to cleaning. I inherited this consuming trait from my mother's side. If it's not bleached, scrubbed, and sprayed with disinfectant, it's not clean. I use Lysol Wipes more frequently than toilet paper (no, not for the same purpose). I have learned, that having every nook, cranny, crack, and crevice in my house clean will never happen again. My windows and mirrors are now smeared with what we have adopted as "love marks" - created by our own personal artist, Zachary. I am thrilled to show off his masterpieces each time a guest arrives, because spending time with my family is more important than clean windows, dust-free shelves, spotless floors, and clear countertops.

Lesson 2 - Patience
I am convinced that your understanding of the word "Patience" is not complete until you have children. It's actually extremely difficult to bring Zachary along with me if we're spending time with anyone who doesn't have children because they haven't learned this lesson to the same degree. I have learned that babies have their own pace - Zachary decides when he's hungry, when he's tired, when he needs to play, and when he needs to rest. He also doesn't consider what things I have to get done in a day when he's teething, going through an MPI reaction, or just plain grumpy. I have lost my patience so many times during our worst MPI days, but I have held it together so many times as well. I've surprised myself with how much I can adapt to his mood or his needs in any circumstance... Say, for instance, nursing in the bathroom at The Olive Garden for 20 minutes during a family dinner where I returned to cold food. Or attempting to leave the house 3 times in 1 hour, each attempt resulting in a poopy diaper. (See Lesson 5) There have been multiple circumstance throughout the last 11 months that have completely adapted my understanding of what it is to be Patient.

Lesson 3 - Life is a gift
If you have not watched our video on The Miracle of Life I highly recommend it. (Link is on the right hand side of my blog) Zachary is truly a gift. One that's valued higher than anything else in our lives. We've had 2 major deaths in the family since Zachary's birth, each of which reminded us of how fragile life is. My dad always says "No one is getting out of here alive". It's true, our days on earth are numbered - each day is a gift. If you've ever witnessed the birth of a child, there's no way you can NOT believe in miracles.

Lesson 4 - I have no control
Yep, it's true, as much as it stings to admit it: I am not in control. If you know me at all, you will understand that this has been the biggest life lesson for me. From finding out we were pregnant with Zachary to patiently waiting for months to get Zachary in to see a specialist for his disease. And now, for 12 trials just for Zachary to be able to digest a single food. God has a plan, it's far greater and more perfect than anything I can imagine. Having no control is an honor. I value it greatly.

Lesson 5 - We will always be late from this point forward
It's true, there's no such thing as "on time" anymore. No, I can't leave the house 5 minutes earlier, no, I can't plan ahead better, and no, I don't need any help - it's just that, inevitably, something will come up right before we need to leave the house that makes it impossible to be on time. I have also learned that a "quick stop at the drugstore" takes about triple the amount of time it used to when I'm packing a child along with me.

Lesson 6 - The worst thing that can happen to any household is everyone getting the flu on the same day
Lesson #6 was learned just 2 weeks ago when Zachary was throwing up every hour and a half and within an hour of each other Nathaniel and I both came down with the same thing. How we managed the first 18 hours of that flu is far beyond me, all I have to say is "THANK GOD FOR GRANDMA'S WHO RISK THEIR OWN HEALTH TO TAKE A SICK GRANDCHILD FOR THE NIGHT!"

Lesson 7 - How to tiptoe
To say Zachary is a light sleeper is an understatement. I don't realize how much I've catered to this until we have an overnight guest who is not a parent. If you are a parent, you may or may not realize that you will turn the door handle to open AND to close the door, hold your breath if you need to go into your child's room for any reason, hold your breath if you accidentally make a loud noise while you're child's sleeping, walk on the balls of your feet, and learn that you actually can hear the television when it's turned down about 8 levels lower than before you had kids.

Lesson 8 - How to speak in Love Languages 
Nathaniel and I took our "Love Languages" test before we got married. I realize now how important those languages are. This lesson could be (in part) due to the fact that we are still considered "newlyweds". Zachary was born 1 month before our 1 year wedding anniversary. So we're still learning what it means to be married as much as we are learning what it means to be parents. But I think having a child has definitely magnified the importance of speaking your spouse's Love Language. I have learned that my husband is no longer just my lover, he's my partner. Tackling this parenting thing has brought us closer together than I ever imagined possible. I have learned that your Love Language can change on a daily basis - doing the dishes for me one day and spending quality time with me the next can each speak to what I need to hear or feel in each moment. Our marriage takes effort with a young child. Clinging to your partner can be difficult with a child clinging to your leg. The most surprising part of this lesson, is that Zachary has a love language, too. Zachary crave's "Physical Touch" more than anything else in the world. As busy as he is and as much as he likes to be on the go, he longs to be held. If I pick him up after I've been gone all day he instantly lays his head on my shoulder and plants himself there for minutes. If he's upset for any reason he refuses to be put down or left alone. I'm learning to speak to my son in a way he needs so that he feels loved and secure.

Lesson 9 - Respect and Teamwork
I think these two go hand in hand. You've heard the phrase "That person wear the pants in the relationship"? In most relationships there is, naturally, someone who calls most of the shots. They are in charge of major financial decisions, schedule planning, social gathering coordination, things like that. But when it comes to parenting, you've got to be on equal playing fields. Both of you need to be able to make decisions, both of you need to work together, and both of you need to respect that the other person is just as concerned about the well-being of your child as you are. Nathaniel had already earned my respect as a partner before we got married, which makes parenting alongside him a true blessing, but it's a learning process.

Lesson 10 - Time really does go by fast
I know, I was warned. I can't tell you how many people said "It goes by fast". I have lived 26 years of life, I know by now how quickly time goes. But when you put it into perspective of how quickly your "baby" becomes a "person", you understand it in a whole new way. In just 30 more days Zachary will have experienced every holiday and every season. He has more than tripled in size since he was born. He went from being in complete dependance on me to (what he believes is) complete independence. If I multiply his life by 18 he'll be graduating from high school. That's right, just 17 more of these and he'll be an adult. It REALLY does go by fast.

Lesson 11 - Grace 
When I became a mom I was officially freed from the chains of "having it all together". Unfortunately, I didn't know this until about 6 months in. I thought Motherhood would be glamorous, I pictured Zachary and I wearing adorable clothes while he sat quietly and politely in a cute baby buggy and I carried my adorable diaper bag and we shopped for hours without either of us having a melt down. I've seen kids with one sock on and one sock off with food stained on their face and their hands a sticky mess and swore to myself that that would NEVER be my child. My fantasy of Motherhood was quickly erased by the reality of constant poo-spolosions, spit up everywhere, and a child who screamed for about 90% of his day. My lesson in Grace has mostly been about having grace for myself. I don't have to have a spotless house, I don't have to be on time to everything, and in fact, I don't even have to GO to everything. I'm not going to get most of my decisions as a parent right on the first try. I'll never be caught up on laundry and I'll never be on top of weeding. My child isn't going to be well-behaved all the time. But I'm learning to be happy with that. My life is complete without being perfect. And my lesson in Grace has allowed me to find joy in that.

Zachary is 11 Months old - I'm 11 Months seasoned as a Mother, and we are both learning lessons on how to survive it all every day. Taking each breath with thankfulness, each mistake with a grain of salt, and each memory with as much love as we can hold.

My best attempt at capturing him sitting still (waving his arm)