I went into this parenting thing with a teensy, weensy sense of over-confidence – I have younger siblings, I babysat, I’ve seen what other parents do right and most importantly, what I believed they were doing wrong (HA!) … and yet when our little Willa girl came along, my life turned on its elbow. The Bean gave me a new sense of humility. I now realize in eight months how much I have changed, struggled, completely freaked out and eventually, in retrospect, learned. Here are the top eight things I’ve learned from my eight month old:
1. Assess your situation.
I’m pretty much an “I don’t need the manual” kinda gal. Most days, it serves me well … okay, not exactly well. On the other hand, our little lady is very pensive. You give her a new toy and she has to turn it around, examine every side, smell it, sometimes push it behind her head before she shoves the new toy in her mouth – an obvious sign of approval. She is teaching me to slow down and size up despite the fact that our whole family life is starting to speed up.
2. You may not learn something new every day but at least get better (if only a teensy bit) at something every day.
I love the saying – “Learn something new every day.” It’s a great mantra. But it’s sometimes completely impractical. I have days where I can barely retain what I am pretty sure I already knew. Babies have a ton of stuff to learn every second of every day. EVERY SECOND! And then the next day, they may not get it again. They just get a little better every day at everything they do. And you know what? It’s still completely awesome.
3. Sometimes it’s cool to go with what you know.
The girl already has her favorite songs, favorite books, favorite toys. At eight months, she knows what she likes and she’s down with reading Little Blue Truck and Pete the Cat EVERY SINGLE NIGHT! And while she’s open to new things, sometimes sticking with the familiar is where it’s at. There is comfort in what we love.
4. Be fiercely courageous.
I’m a wimp. Really a wimp. I have a hard time doing new things or going into new situations. My dad, her papa, made Willa a tree swing. She LOVES this tree swing and the higher she swings, the better with this girl. She moves around, sticks her legs out and goes one-handed (EEK!). She faces new challenges and experiences on a daily basis and while she may not master them, she certainly faces them head on. If only I could go into a new situation with that much courage.
5. Live with a sense of abandon.
One definition of abandon is “to give up control of.” While Willa knows what she wants, a majority of her day is spent dependent on an adult – on a routine we have defined for her. If she were left to her own devices and had to control every part of her day, she wouldn’t be the happiest of babes. At eight months, she has started to go with it. I am a control freak who normally depends on lists, schedules, and reminders. I’m working on giving up some of that control and focusing on working within our family life instead of against it.
6. Whenever possible, get your groove on …
Sing, dance, wiggle, stomp, head bop, play air guitar, wave … whatever you need to do. IT MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER.
7. Demand Happiness.
Babies pretty much demand happiness. They are fairly vocal when they aren’t happy. Whether it’s from myself, my immediate situation, my work or home life, I’ve decided it’s okay to demand simple happiness. Whether that means letting go of a preconceived idea of “happy” or making life changes, I’m ready to get on board the happiness train.
8. Remember to tell ’em you love ’em.
Recently, my husband lost his grandfather. His wife, Sal’s grandmother – also named Willa, survived him but is living with advanced memory loss and dementia. Right before Granddad went into the hospital, he had a moment with adult Willa where she hugged him, kissed him and patted his hands. For that moment, she was able to express her love again. We tell baby Willa we love her every minute we can get. I know there will be (and have been) moments when I don’t feel like gushing over her. But there will not be a moment I won’t end every day, every parting with an “I love you.”
Okay, so being a new mom is insane … cuckoo insane. But it’s amazing what a life-changing experience it can be. I’ve decided to ditch the over-confidence and learn everything I can from this little nugget and every life-changing or mundane adventure we have together.