Wednesday, January 7, 2015

If I Knew Then...

When JaiseAnn was about six months old I jotted down an idea for a blog post. It was going to be full of things I wish I had done differently during her first year. Sort of my way of giving out advice to a new mom or a reminder to myself. This post would be brilliant and so easy to write and it would be perfect. I mentally noted things like: 

*buy a co sleeper

*try harder to get her to take a bottle

*READ ABOUT BABY SLEEP (For as much as I read up on pregnancy and birth I was not at all prepared for the different changes and adjustments babies go through with sleep. I was SO not prepared for that)

*have Zach take her at night on occasion from the beginning

*leave her earlier on with other people

*stay in bed all day with the baby at least once

and so on. I meant to keep a running tally of all the things that would have made life so much easier if I had just done it "this" way from the start.

I'm not one of those people who doesn't believe in regrets. There are choices I've made that I do not feel were worth the lesson earned. And I usually stand by that. I figured I'd surely have regrets when it came to my first year of parenting.

But a few months later, I stopped keeping score. I stopped dwelling on the fact that maybe I should have done this differently or tweaked that. If I had read more on baby sleep maybe I would be getting more sleep at night by now. 

But that's a rabbit hole that I quickly learned that you don't want to go down. Wherever we are, we are here because I did what I wanted to do at the moment as a parent. I followed my heart.

I did what I was able to do and comfortable with doing at every corner. I asked myself what's best for me and, more importantly, what's best for JaiseAnn.

Some days yes, I do completely freak out about the choices I've made and what I can only imagine will be the lifelong consequences of them...How long until I have my bed to myself? How long until she will go to sleep for someone else? How long until I can drink a cherry Coke again? I mean real pressing matters here. 

One of the parenting books that I actually did read before JaiseAnn was born talked a lot about this concept of  "accidental parenting." It's the thought that parents do what they have to to survive and then end up in this cycle of a situation that they are no longer in control over.  

Before JaiseAnn was born, I bought into that. I was going to do things the right way so that my life could be as calm and "normal" as possible. Even if it meant that things were difficult for a while. I was going to keep my sanity and avoid accidentally parenting my child.

But I don't believe that most of us parent by "accident." I think we parent with our hearts. And even though that means that sometimes things don't look or feel like we'd like them to, it doesn't make it wrong. In fact, it's probably the most right they could be. Even though I occasionally wish for a chance to take a long nap or spend a day getting lunch and a pedicure while JaiseAnn spends the day happily eating and napping in someone else's care, it doesn't mean that I've done something wrong because those things aren't really a possibility or likelihood for me at the moment. I followed my heart and it put me here. With every choice we get something and we sacrifice something.

If I could do those things that I occasionally want to do, there'd be something else I'd be wanting. Maybe I would have a baby who only slept in her crib and I'd long for her to sleep on my chest (even if it does require the use of an Ergo). 

I spent the first half of JaiseAnn's first year thinking I'd learned so much about how to do it "better" next time. I spent the second half realizing that I love her like crazy and that love has been the main motivator behind every parenting choice I've made. My mother's heart led us to where we are today. I know it means I've done my very best. I wouldn't have done a single thing differently. Not one.

What are your feelings on regrets? Do you feel like we make right or wrong choices or do you think each choice has a purpose?

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