By the time you read this, we will have celebrated the first year of baby Cedrik’s life on December 30th. Oh what a wild, beautiful, challenging, joyful, heart-filled year it has been!
Like always, I closed off this year by reflecting on all the blessings that I experienced and setting intentions for the new year we’re circling back to! But this year, I had to add something new to the mix. These were my first 365 days of motherhood, and boy have I learned a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. So I’m fleshing out the many lessons learned. Whether you’re a mother, father, some kind of caretaker or not, I think you’ll find something in here for you. Without further ado, here we go.
- The love we have for most people is conditional. In loving Cedrik regardless of his mood, how he’s behaving – or how it’s impacting my life, I’m learning a thing or two about unconditional love. I’m beginning to know what it means to love someone with no restrictions, no deal breakers and no parameters. It’s an entirely new definition of love. I don’t require anything from him or expect him to love me in any such way, nonetheless, my heart is steadfastly loving him. I wonder what the world would be like if we loved more people in this way?
- This too shall pass. If there’s one thing I wish I would have known more clearly a year ago, is that whatever we are currently experiencing that may seem less than ideal, will pass. People change, situations flow in and out and babies evolve. What seemed so hard at one time (like the endless crying around 6pm, otherwise known as a baby’s witching hour, or waking up every couple of hours to feed, burp and change your baby, or endless butt rashes), will change. And other “challenges” will replace it.
- Which brings me to my next lesson, you can either see something as a challenge or an opportunity to grow. When Cedrik would have a meltdown of some kind, there was a part of me truly struggled. I wanted it to be a different kind of moment. This was me experiencing a “challenge”. Other times, I was able to transcend this limited point of view and simply sit with the moment and hold for him a calm, loving space until he found his way back to his own alignment. This is definitely me growing.
- By staying in my own alignment, I help others stay in theirs. I’ve been learning this in my coaching practice for years. When I speak with clients who are frustrated, upset or feeling any emotion that deviates from joy, the best thing I can do for them, is stay in my alignment. I don’t see them as victims or allow myself to feel all their feelings. Well, same goes with Cedrik. By breathing more deeply, being more present and keeping a light heart, I teach him by example and help him see that his alignment is independent of other people’s behaviour; it is his own to claim.
- Create a vision and leave room for change. When I was pregnant I shared my vision with a few friends about how I saw myself doing motherhood; I would nurture my child and continue nurturing myself and my growing business. Some people thought I was downright crazy and told me I wouldn’t have time for any of it. Still, I held strong onto my vision with the encouragement of my sister who reminded me that like any great plan, you make it and revise it as needed. And yes, some revisions were totally necessary. Over the last year, in a way that looks only slightly different than how I imagined it, I totally did motherhood my way – with many lessons learned, of course.
- Words are damn powerful. If you’ve been following my journey, you already know I think this, only now it’s tenfold. Babies are not just sponges, they have no filter. Since they live in their subconscious mind until the age of about 7, they do not use their conscious mind to “filter” what you say as true or false. They accept it as truth. Meaning we, as their caretakers are literally shaping the foundation of every belief that will support them, and/or make them struggle. With this in mind, I’m mindful of the things I say and don’t say to Cedrik. I use more abundant and expansive words. I avoid blanket statements or too many labels. And rather than saying, ‘no, don’t and stop’ to a baby who is literally sticking his hands into everything all day long, I redirect him to something he can do. I want him to believe there are boundaries, and that within those boundaries there are endless possibilities.
- Setting boundaries protects every relationship, even that with your baby. One of the many things I work with my clients on, is setting boundaries. I explain to them that boundaries are actually positive for their relationships, and that setting them sets their relationships up for success. The same goes for the relationship I have with Cedrik. Twelve months into his life, we are still breastfeeding. And while in the early days (months!) I fed Cedrik on demand, now that he’s older and capable of “grabbing” what he wants, I’ve set a very gentle boundary (boundaries can and should be absolutely loving). He knows that he can’t just pop my boob out of my shirt and drink whenever he wants (he’s got a water bottle for that!), there are certain times of the day when I offer it to him. He’s learning that even with his mother, who loves him in an all encompassing way, there are boundaries. Which I believe will help him to respect others’ boundaries and to set his own.
- I don’t have to stop his crying. Everyone prefers a smiling, laughing baby – myself included! But that doesn’t mean that they need to be laughing and smiling all the time. Crying is OK. In fact, it’s natural and healthy. All too often, I see people trying to shush or frantically distract a baby from crying…I used to do this, too. I’m starting to see the madness in this. Why do we discourage people from their infancy to stuff their emotions? Because it makes the rest of us uncomfortable. When Cedrik cries, I watch to see if there’s something he’s trying to communicate to me, like that he’s hungry or physically uncomfortable. If it’s not obvious what he needs and how I can help him, I don’t try to stop his crying. I sit with him so he knows he’s not alone, and I let him cry. Once it ends, he carries on with playing, eating or whatever else he was doing before the tears. His emotions are released, rather than trapped inside, simply because I prefer a happy baby.
- Celebrate the ordinary. It’s amazing how much we celebrate the tiniest things once we become parents, like the first wave, clap, or teeny tiny step. What a beautiful lesson, to see ourselves bask in the awesomeness of something we would otherwise consider so small, perhaps even insignificant. With all my so called “accomplishments”, I’m learning to soak in the wonder of the simple moments, like watching Cedrik play or try to figure out how to sort shapes! And while it’s very tempting to cheer when he finally “gets it right”, I’m learning to cheer on his efforts instead. I’d love to show him that the fun isn’t only in the success, but that it’s actually largely in the journey.
- Less is more. These days, there are endless contraptions, toys and things to help you help your baby sit, stand and walk sooner. I welcome the help but I stand by the saying that less is more. Babies can entertain themselves with the simplest things (they always prefer regular household items over their own toys), so instead of distracting them with flashy things, the best thing you can do is nurture their innate tendency to…celebrate the ordinary. Plus, it’s much easier to keep your house in order with less things in it. Everybody wins!
- Community is underrated. I wasn’t aware just how important community really is, until I became a mother. Sure, I surrounded myself with like-minded people for my business and personal growth, but I hadn’t integrated into the actual community I live in – until motherhood and all its joys and woes came around. Realizing there was no need to go the road alone, I started to attend community run gatherings for mothers and families. I met other mamas who were new on their journey, and together we formed a real sisterhood. We went on adventures with our babes, supported each other with tips and tricks and celebrated milestones together. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Whenever you find yourself going through something new, or that you don’t quite understand, meet and connect with positive people who you will grow alongside you.
- Guilt is natural, but not necessary. There’s an incredibly strong collective story going around that mom guilt is inevitable. And so, we inevitably experience mom guilt. I say it’s natural because I believe it to be very challenging to be a caretaker and have that much responsibility, and not find something to feel guilty about. It would take a rebel ass rockstar to bypass the whole mom guilt thing. That being said, the guilt is neither necessary nor helpful. I’m a mom. I will make mistakes and I will (accidentally) hurt my child emotionally or otherwise (hello, letting my baby fall off of his high chair and onto his face). But feeling guilt about it for more than a day only keeps me from being present with my child. So I’ve kind of given myself a “pass” or blanket future forgiveness for all the mistakes I will continue to make. My only intention is to learn and make better choices moving forward.
- Trust your instincts. There have been so many times that I’ve looked to my mom, friends, or Google, for answers about motherhood. Which is totally ok, sometimes. Time and time again, I’m bearing witness to the fact that my instinct is really the best guidance for any questions I may have.
- Taking care of yourself is always a good idea. I’ve been an advocate of self-care and self-love for a long time, but I’ve never known this to be as relevant as I do now, as a mother. If I don’t set my own boundaries, and carve out time to do things I love, I fall flat on my face. I’m a tired mom, irritable wife and much less shiny version of myself. Self-compassion isn’t just necessary, it’s a must if you want to thrive. And there’s always more time than you give time credit for. Put your phone down, make more intentional choices and don’t be afraid to let a few balls drop every once in a while (there will always be many more for you to pick up later;)). Oh, and you totally have time to shower…if you choose to!
There is so much to learn from a child and this journey of motherhood, parenting, or even nurturing your own inner child. These little beings are so inspiring if you choose to see them that way. The way Cedrik celebrates himself when he learns something new, amazes me. He doesn’t just brush past it. He practices it, and smiles triumphantly when he feels like he’s got it down. He expects to be loved. He expects to be fed, to be caressed and really, to have all his needs met. Unworthiness is not a concept babies are familiar with (until we teach it to them!). And there is so much for us more grown folks to learn from that. We are manifestations of Divine energy, we come here knowing that and then forget it somewhere along the way. And I feel blessed, truly blessed and honoured, to receive this reminder through the eyes and heart of my little earth angle, Cedrik. Happy birthday baby.