If there is one thing I’ve learned over the past year, it is that parenting is the most amazing, rewarding and fulfilling experience one can ever have. I’ve also learned that it is f-ing hard work. There hasn’t been a week that has gone by in the past 371 days that I haven’t doubted myself as a parent in one way or another. The constant parenting questions have flown like lava through my head. Did Gracie poop enough today? Did she eat enough? Is her weight on track? Are we reading to her as much as we should? Does she watch too much TV? Are we exposing her to enough new experiences? Is she being stimulated? Are we spoiling her? Is she spending adequate time with both sides of our family? Is what we’re feeding her the healthiest option? Is her development where it should be? Why did she start walking and then decide to stop? Can she tell I lost my patience today? What if she becomes an impatient little girl? I could go on… and on… and on.
At the end of the day, we as new parents are our own worst critics and there really isn’t anyone out there that is going to be harder on us than we are on ourselves. Now I will say that I’m sure there are some new parents who are more relaxed in their parenting expectations and don’t worry about these kinds of things. I am not one of those parents. To this day G has to, at times, tell me, “Babe, calm down… you’re worrying for nothing”. 93.6% of the time my wife is right and I am worrying for nothing. Meh, what can you do.
While I am guilty of worrying too much and doubting myself, I also try to be aware of what G and I are doing well. This is something I feel all parents should try and do – focus on the good. I thought about this quite a bit as baby girl’s first birthday approached. As I went through my mental list of should’ve, would’ve and could'ves, I tried really hard to reflect on some of the good stuff. You know those moments that are few and far between when you KNOW with certainty that you’ve done something good, something right for your baby. I love those moments. Here are a few of ours.
* Our kid is happy. Like REALLY happy. This is something we’ve been told by friends, family and strangers since Gracie was a teenie, tiny baby. More people than I can count have told us that our little gal is the most joyful baby they’ve ever met! I’ll never forget something my auntie Maine told me one day. She said, “Gracie is a very happy little girl and that’s not something that just happens. It’s a reflection of her environment”. This is what I am most proud of.
* Healthy eating habits started on day ONE. I always knew I wanted to make our kids baby food, I just didn’t know how. Turns out, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I’m proud of the fact that nearly 100% of the baby food Grace has consumed has been organic and homemade. And while I did ruin a pan (or two) in the making of said baby food, both G and I agree it was totally worth the time, energy and pans. Now that Grace has moved on to big people food, healthy choices continue to be a must.
* We stuck with cloth diapering and did it even though many friends and family couldn’t understand why we wanted to cloth diaper and thought we would eventually go to disposable. Some of our co-workers even had an office bet on how long we would last, haha! This was more than a money saving move for us. It was a decision with Gracie’s health and the environment in mind. Like I’ve always said, every family is different and it’s important we not judge each other – this was just the best option for our little tribe. :)
* Lastly, we survived not one, but two operations on our baby girl. This was something that frightened us deeply. We often lost sleep over our concerns. There were tears and some arguments, but we got through it as a family and we couldn’t be more proud of how amazingly well Grace did. Her smile makes it all worth it.
Now I’m not going to list every accomplishment we had in year one because quite frankly, I doubt anyone but us would want to read that list, lol. Still I wanted to highlight just a few things – the things we are most proud of.
So for all you other mamas and papas out there, can you relate to any of these feelings – or am I just crazy? ;) What are you most proud of?
~ Our little teacher ~