I found an old playlist the other day, "Sleepy Stets" it's called. I remember making it, it was going to be what I would play while my baby fell asleep at night and during his naps. It's a beautiful playlist, sweet country songs, Jack Johnson, Ben Harper and of course, Iz.
I couldn't help but laugh when I reminisced on the making of this playlist. Little did I know I was going to be blessed with a baby who defied all baby-sleep rules and regulations. A baby who went shot for shot with the best of them when it came to sleep. My Stetson.
Today is his first day of full-time day home. It's a weird day. I've spent the last 20 months with this little person attached to me, first growing inside me for nine months and then always with me for the next eleven.
In two weeks my maternity leave (God bless Canada and our maternity leave benefits) will come to an end. I look forward to returning to my Cardel Place family, I miss just being ME and having other things to do than love, feed, clean and entertain my son. That being said, it feels like I'm missing a limb not having him with me.
So what have I learned in eleven months of parenthood?
- Parenting is the hardest, best, worst, most rewarding thing I've ever done. Was my mat leave all rainbows and butterflies? No. Did I spend my days smiling to myself, cleaning the house, watching The View and scrap-booking in my spare time? No. What spare time? There were hard days, lots of them. Days that I counted the hours down to bedtime - and prayed sleep would happen. Did the good days out weigh the bad? Maybe, but who is keeping count. All that I know is there is nothing like watching my son smile, roll, sit, stand, walk, eat, laugh, explore for the first time, or the hundredth time. You see, the thing with parenting is just when you think you're at your end your hilarious little baby does something new, or gives you an open mouth kiss on the cheek, or says "Mom."
The days can be long, it is a lot of work taking care of a human - but I promise - it is worth every single minute of lost sleep, every single tear shed, hot meal turned cold. It is worth it all.
- Have mom friends. Friends with kids keep you sane. I've been fortunate enough to have an amazing group of moms from our prenatal classes to keep in touch with. We've all been there for each other every step of the way. It makes a world of difference knowing you're not alone - share, support and laugh with some other parents.
- It's only temporary. I never thought we would survive the first few months, I don't know what I thought would happen - that time would freeze and we would live in this rotten time-trap of sleepless nights and cranky baby... But look at us now. Cherish those naps together, those rotten days when your baby refuses to nap, one day you won't have all day together, one day your baby will nap better. One day you'll miss all of those silly things. Try to appreciate them.
- Be open to change. Stetson rocked our world, flipped it on it's head. All my preconceived notions went out the window. We co-slept and nursed to sleep and didn't swaddle and he slept on his tummy and all sorts of other baby-no-nos. And it was okay, that's how we survived. And then came a time when we didn't co-sleep, and we sleep trained, although he still sleeps on his tummy =] Parenting is a constantly evolving thing. What works at one age may not work in a few months, be willing to try new things, you may be surprised at how well they work.
- I'll always need my mom. Simple. Who do I call when the going gets tough? Who drops everything to come keep me company? Who cleans my kitchen and organizes my son's toys while I put him to bed? My mom. I love her more than she'll ever know and I pray everyday that I will be half the mother that she is.
- Whoever your best friend is - have a baby with them. I've been lucky enough to have babies with three of my best friends - not in the same way of course =] My husband and I had our baby together in the true sense, we have our Stetson. I have seen the absolute best in my husband since having Stetson. He has supported me through everything, he loves his son more than anything and is everything I ever dreamed that the father of my children would be.
My sister had her sweet Austin three and a half years before and her Hana six months before I had my Stetson. My sister saved us. She answered our texts at all hours of the night, she cooked us meals and took our sleep resistant baby for a walk so that we could nap. She has been the most selfless best friend I could ever ask for. I only hope that I can one day repay her for the patience, support and advice that she has offered us over this past year. I'll love her forever and always, my little sister.
My best friend had sweet Emily five months after I had Stetson. A beautiful baby girl who loved to sleep. She showed me that not all babies are crazy like mine was, that it is okay if your baby only naps for thirty minutes - the world will not end. I've been able to be there for my best friend like my sister was for me, or I've tried to be as good as my sister, and there's nothing quite like helping your best friend with her newborn. Seeing our babies play together blows my mind, I pray they find friendship like my best friend and I have been fortunate enough to have in each other. I love my best friend forever and always.
I'm sure I've learned lots more, but those are some of the biggest take-aways. I feel blessed to have had nearly a year at home with my little cowboy. He has taught me true love and patience, among many other things. I love you, not-so Sleepy Stets.