Yesterday started with a 7 a.m. feeding followed by a two hour nap/snuggle session all cozied up in our comfy bed. Jamie woke up and saw our sweet mama/baby Sunday snooze, and his heart was happy. Hadley and I woke up in a good mood and refreshed. These are the moments I’ll want back when she’s not little anymore, I thought to myself. There is nothing better than being a mom.
Yesterday ended with being woken up out of bed at 10:30 p.m. (yes we fell asleep at 8:30 – busy weekend!) to her wails over the baby monitor. She never wakes up at this time, we thought. I tried to soothe her in her crib with belly pressure, my soothing voice, her pacifier, etc., but her can’t-catch-her-breath cries and crocodile tears were too much for me. Be tough, mom! Don’t pick her up! She’ll never learn to sleep through the night if you give in! were the only thoughts going through my head as I picked her up and tried to calm her down. Jamie came in to find my eyes welling up with tears because I had no idea what she was screaming about; I just wanted to scream with her. Hadley, mommy’s tired! You and I both need a good night’s sleep, baby.
We changed her dry diaper, gave her an ounce of milk (we knew she wasn’t hungry), and put her back to sleep about 10 minutes later. Jamie and I didn’t say much to each other, but the mental exhaustion was written all over both of our faces.
This parenting thing is so awesome. And so tough.
My mom sent me a text last night that struck a nerve with me (don’t worry, mom – not in a bad way). Hardest job you’ll ever have, she said. Jamie and I have talked before about how sometimes parenting feels just like that. A job. And I feel guilty every time I think of it that way. To be honest, 90% of our moments with our daughter are filled with the purest, most simple joy. We are in awe almost every single day over the new things she can do. Just this morning I took three minutes worth of videos of her having her first “conversation” with Jamie and saying “hello” to her grandparents. It was adorable; We were belly-laughing.
My body recovered in lightning speed after her birth, we’ve had tons of help from friends and family, and for the most part life has gotten back to normal. 90% of the time.
But let me be real. That other 10% can be a doozy. Walking around for an hour because that’s the only thing that will make her happy. Bouncing her on my knee for the 15th time. Errands that take twice as long because “just running into a store real quick” just doesn’t happen anymore. Starting dinner prep at 1 p.m. because I don’t know if she’ll be able to entertain herself at the same time that I’ll want to cook dinner later. Not sleeping eight hours straight for over three months.
I don’t really know how to be a parent. I don’t know what my policies are about spanking and grounding later on, I don’t know when I’m going to introduce her to real food or even how to do it, I am not prepared to baby-proof my house. I am terrified of making a mistake and I am terrified that my mistakes could hurt her. And in my lowest moments, I sometimes feel like I’m the only one in the world who has ever felt these things.
Jamie and I have decided we are selfish. We’d love to try out the new hot yoga place down the street together, but we realized that we can’t. Hadley. We get annoyed when the other one can’t entertain her when we want to get our workouts in. Also, let me just get this off my chest and confess – I almost cried when it took 3.5 hours to watch the season premier of The Bachelor because she was seven weeks old and just wanted to holler for the night. Selfish selfish, Erica.
But I know that I seriously love this child, and so does Jamie. A love that makes us feel horrible for being selfish and want to put her first 110% of the time.
If I had a penny for every time we’ve said “Oh my gosh, we made her” or commented about how mind-boggling it is that she’s half of each of us, we’d have a lot of moolah.
I understand what people are saying when they talk about their child being the best thing that’s ever happened to them. The idea that, God-willing, I get to spend the rest of my life with her in it makes my heart swell. She is so cool.
I have literally never laid my eyes on a better sight than when her big blue eyes catch mine and she smiles her huge toothless grin on purpose. In those frequent moments, life feels is perfect.
Last night Jamie and I were praying about and talking about Hadley’s upcoming baby dedication on Sunday. We are pumped to commit before our church family, our parents, and our friends to raise Hadley in a Godly home that encourages her personal relationship with the Lord. Despite the harder moments of parenting, we both know, and have always known, that we were made to be parents. Our desire to be great parents is probably what beats us up the most; We do not want to fail her and criticize ourselves for every negative thought.
So this is me being real about my rollercoaster of being a first-time mom. Despite all of the viral blog posts I’ve read about “the things no one told you about being a parent”, I still didn’t realize that it would sometimes be so challenging.
But I wouldn’t trade this journey for absolutely anything. Honestly. I haven’t had so much mid-day prayer in my life. I can’t count how many times I’ve stopped while holding her or looking at her and just thanked God for blessing us with her and all that she is. Hadley is our miracle and my dream come true; I have dreamt of a daughter my entire life.
My marriage is stronger because of Hadley; She brings Jamie and I together like no other experience has. Sharing my tears and my daily belly-laughs with him is the best.
So here’s to you, moms and dads. To being the best parents we can be and realizing that it’s okay to have a bad day and still be rockstar, give-it-your-all parents.