8 Things I’ve Learned During My First Year of Parenting

Ahhh parenthood. ❤ Last week, I published my first post in over a year – the introduction. I have been itching to share my parenting experiences, curious to see who relates and who thinks I’m batshit crazy. October 3rd is an important day (no, I’m not wearing pink. Lindsay Lohan has lost her damn mind again, she needs therapy not meme-royalty money). It’s one week from Sophie’s birthday. In one week, my little doll is going to turn 1.

HELLO HORMONES. I could sit here and write down my feelings, but then this post would be unfinished due to me drowning in a puddle of my own tears. So I’ll try something different, an empowering reflection of things I’ve learned over the past year of being a parent:

1)    👏👏👏MAMA TRIBE for the win:  Think about the journey of a brand new mom. You spend months pregnant, your hormone levels shift making you cry at every sentimental cute thing Chrissy Teigen posts (hmm just me?), body contorting and expanding every coming day, trying to fathom what your little one is going to look and feel like. Cut to when the baby arrives – you have eight different types of swaddle blankets, your body feels like you’ve gotten mauled by a really rude tiger, and you no longer get to sleep in. Ever. What comes to your rescue? For me, it was my tribe of beautiful mamas.

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Whether it was my cousin whose sweet little daughter was born a few weeks before my own, or my wombie whose gorgeous baby boy was born a few weeks after – I went to them with every little question I had. I was thankful for my experienced mama friends here in Dallas and the Bay Area who were checking up on me at all times, asking how I was, and reassuring me that whatever I was going through was normal. These beautiful women  sending me a simple text of encouragement, or calling to check up on Sophie meant the world to me. New/First Time Moms (or Dads), understand the importance of fellow parents  – chances are they have gone through (or know someone who has gone through) a similar set of emotions and experiences. In a culture where we’re connected via the internet and our phones, it’s an excuse to reach out to people within your own mama tribes, and allow people to come to your rescue when might need it most.

2)    Baby Blues/PostPartum Depression are a REAL THING. These feelings deserve to be talked about, processed, and understood. I did not have postpartum, but for months after Sophie was born, there were some tough days where I’d walk in to my bathroom or closet, and literally cry my heart out. I wasn’t feeling right. I wasn’t feeling like myself mentally, I didn’t feel witty (like sometimes I can be funny, but man my jokes would not hit), able to communicate properly, writing for pleasure was difficult, and I did not think anyone in the world understood my exact situation. It was during this time, that I realized I wouldn’t just “get over it”, that I needed to talk about it. A friend once shared that if after the baby, I ever felt like I was sinking or off, it would be crucial to talk through these emotions and remember the role of hormones – and that I’m not just going loony. This was something I internalized and I would tell husband anytime I was having a bad day, and we would talk. Some days I needed to cry, and other days I just needed to vent – the important part was that I was understanding and talking about my emotions, that helped getting them out of my head. Credit goes to my husband for his patience during these times. A few soon-to-be mommy friends asked me what was needed on their registries – in hindsight, I would tell them that it’s more important to have an honest discussion about postpartum emotions with their significant other before baby shows up – setting up a foundation for discussion, and even a course of action for what to do if some days get tougher than others. Image result for postpartum depression

3) Baby bragging is annoying. Even humble baby bragging. Not all parents or babies are created equal – so be kind, and be mindful of what you say to one another. Every birth story and parenting journey is unique and this is a gentle reminder to let every mom and dad know, that there is no reason to brag or judge one another. We are all just trying to raise good people.

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4)    That bond may take a while, and that’s okay. From the second that Sophie was born, I felt this instinct to protect her at all costs. Aggressive, I know, but it’s true – that was my experience. Other moms have shared how in love they are with their babies the second they show up – that’s their experience. I’m here to assure that those bonds will form, in their own time – to not compare your bond to anyone else’s. Comparison is stupid.

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And for what it’s worth, when that deep love does hit – it’ll be remarkable. I’m in love with my little baby. She is everything. ❤

5)    ME TIME. #GETYOURS Part of being a good mom is to have some time away from the baby, to indulge in things that make you feel like you again. Pending you have time and childcare is handled, whether it’s a 5-10 minute walk around the block, getting brunch and a pedi with friends, or grabbing drinks (FYI, being hungover and taking care of a baby the next morning.. I shudder at the thought) – do something that makes you happy. You’ll be a better mom for it, returning back to your baby mentally rejuvenated and ready to take on a blowout diaper or three.

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6)    Nurture your marriage. Date night has never been more important.

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7)    You are not “just a parent”. Explore your interests. I’ll be the first one to admit that getting back to my passion of writing has taken me forever to do. It not only took me time, but the confidence to get back on track. Having trouble figuring out what you want to do? Start with exercise. Exercise does wonders for the soul. I got back to Hot Yoga, which for me has been a full-on mental cleanse.

8)    Cut yourself some slack. You’re not going to do everything perfectly the first time (or even the 12th). Your baby may cry for no reason. Not every baby has a chill temperament. This parenting shit is HARD WORK. And parents who are putting in that hard work, day in, day out deserve a HUGE round of applause.

Holy shit, I wrote an essay. I knew I should have split this up, but I was on a roll. Who knows, maybe I’ll still do a Part 2. 😀 Did I miss a good point? Send me a note!

And I think I will write that piece about Sophie turning 1 next week after all. 🙂

 

Some Parental Advice for Sophie

I always wanted a sister, or experience one of those BFF relationships with my mother – just a close female counterpart who would do anything for me, and vice versa. I’ve had my fair share of blessings, but haven’t had one of those bonds.. yet.

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Enter: Sophie. The day I found out that we were having a little girl, I had just woken up and received a voicemail from my OB’s office saying they knew the gender. I jumped out of bed, ran to Hank who was getting ready for work, and immediately called back. I was trembling, pacing, and my voice was shaking – an overall anxious mess. When we found out it was a girl, Hank gave my already in-tears self, the biggest hug – and essentially supported my weight. He’s a damn gem, I tell you.

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My brain went into overdrive at the thought – what would I do with a girl? Growing up around younger brothers, I knew more or less how to interact with them. But a girl? I wouldn’t know where to start. I’ve had a few months for this to settle in and through much conversation and support from the hubby, I feel confident that together we will figure it out one step at a time and try our best to raise a strong, intelligent, and enigmatic little girl. I started taking mental notes/wishlist notions along the way on how I wanted to raise her and here are a few pieces of advice I’d like to instill in her:

(Disclaimer: I know. Before you say it, I know. I can’t control her or how she’s going to react to the world, but these are some ideals I’d like to keep in mind as we raise her) 

Hi Sophie,

1.You’re A Girl – And That’s Badass: Our culture skews towards the male privilege. Hell, the entire world does. I remember when I told someone your gender, the response was “Oh it’s okay that you’re having a girl”(I’ll refrain from sharing my thoughts in response). There will be a lot of people who will try to undermine you and your gender – just know that we want to see you grow to be so powerful and impactful, gender be damned. Between boys & girls, one gender isn’t better than the other (Although this whole pregnancy thing is making me see women in a whole new light). All you need to focus on is being a genuinely good-hearted and focused person, and watch the opportunities unfold.

2. Be Curious Like Your Dad: Your dad has incredible curiosity and a rich desire to constantly learn. Since we’ve met, he’s taught me to look deeper at things – check facts and verify sources. So whether it’s me one day telling you that I’m the coolest person in the world, or a teacher in elementary school telling you that Texas is the best state (tehehehe, my blog, my jokes), or a friend telling you that the Warriors are not the best team in the game – if what you hear doesn’t make sense, then question it. But question it to learn the truth, not to argue, not to judge. And for the record, I will be tied for coolest with your dad, California is the best state, and the one thing you better not question is the greatness of the Warriors.

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(pictured: me and Uncle Jesse. Yes, Sophie is going to have an Uncle Jesse just like from Full House – have mercy!)

3. Social Media Does Not Dictate Confidence: Look kid, I’ll be honest. I don’t think you’re going to be allowed to have an Instagram account till you’re like 26, and who knows what the hell social media will have evolved to by then. But if and when you do figure it all out, please know that social media is not that serious. Likes and followers should not enhance your self worth or confidence, ever. Let your confidence come from your accomplishments and self-respect, not from your Instagram pix. Girls who post pix without many clothes on repeatedly for attention, just need someone to give them $50 for a sweater, mommy promises. And for the record, we’re not letting you hang out with any Beezy Aunties either. #thethirstisreal

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4. You Don’t Need To Be “Extra AF”: Piggy-backing off of Social Media for a sec – I don’t get why millennials like the concept of “Extra”. I’m sorry that being themselves is not good enough. Daughter, we’re going to spend a lot of time hanging out with you, getting to know you, and teaching you about life – you won’t need to overcompensate. I hope you know that you’ll always be the best version of yourself, just the way you are.

5. Empathy Is Everything: You’ll learn how to sing your ABC’s and the quadratic equation eventually, but I truly hope you learn how to be empathetic. Feeling empathy towards others will help you understand people so much better. And Sophie, that is important. Being kind, not judging others, and understanding their feelings is key in life, and empathy helps you get there.

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6. Defend Yourself: As much as I want you to be kind, I want you to learn that you don’t have to take shit from anyone (except me and Dad). I’ll never push you to accept bad treatment from anyone – no matter who they are. If they’re a friend, family member, or anyone – we will expect you to defend yourself and have your back, always. Life isn’t about dealing with toxic people – it’s about filling your life with people who inspire your happiness and success. Don’t let anyone piss you off, baby girl – it ain’t worth it.

7. Daddy Probably Won’t Let You Wear Makeup Ever – This is just more of a fact than it is advice. Daddy believes in natural beauty. Mommy loves makeup, but Daddy’s even gotten through to mommy a bit – and it’s true natural beauty is precious.

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8. PRACTICE PATIENCE: This will help you deal with #7. I’m not very patient, but I have a feeling you’re going to teach me a thing (or 2000) about patience. Instant gratification is not realistic, nor will it help you achieve personal satisfaction or success any faster. Know that you’re going to have to work hard, practice, and constantly refine your skills. Life isn’t a race – you’ll achieve your goals as long as you pair your intelligence with your patience and focus.

I think I could have easily kept writing another 30 pieces of advice, but I’ll settle on these for now. This was a fun piece to write and slightly distracting for me as well. See, it’s nearing the end of the road, and I’ve been quite emotional as I’m officially 36 weeks.. 4 more weeks till we meet our little one – and I can’t believe it. I know I can’t dictate advice to her, but I hope we’re able to give her the best set of morals & values possible!