It’s the third and final installment of my Ask A Mom series with Melissa from I Crashed the web. If you missed the first two parts, find them here and here. (You can also read the corresponding blog posts where I answer many of the same questions over at Melissa’s blog: Part 1 and Part 2).
I started watching a third friend’s baby on Wednesdays, sometimes at my house and sometimes at her house. This friend had her baby 10 days after mine, and she is a former neighbor, so it’s been nice to get out of the house and back to my old neighborhood once every other week, even if it means I’m soaked with sweat and almost literally juggling two babies. Parents of twins–hell, parents of more than one kid–I don’t know how you do it, and I don’t know how I’ll do it if we end up there. I adore my small charge, and it’s so fun to see the two boys interacting, but I am practically comatose after the day with the two of them. I’m not sure how people do it day in and day out.
What does this have to do with Melissa, you ask?
Well, friends, Melissa is a downtown Clevelander and has met me twice now to walk the babies around the Ohio City neighborhood after she shops the West Side Market. I’ve taken to scheduling a long walk during morning naps (The Baby usually naps twice, briefly, on babysitting days). I hold The Baby in the carrier and push the stroller with The Friend’s Baby. I get an hour and a half’s walk in the city and they get a good snooze. See why I get so sweaty?
Really, though, it’s been amazing to get catch up time with Melissa. Her baby is getting so big and squishy, and we get to talk about life and motherhood and exchange war stories and advice. For this third and final installment of Ask A New Mom with Melissa, we’re getting deep. Enjoy!
Part Three: Parenting philosophy and self reflection
How would you describe your approach to parenthood so far? Do you think it parallels your approach to life pre-baby, or has it been a major shift for you?
My approach to parenthood so far has been as follows: Flexibility. I’m a semi-type A person and not in that I plan every detail – but more that I love having my to-do list and checking things off of it. I thrive on productivity and am not content just sitting still. (Just ask my husband – I’m the worst Netflix binge watcher and get antsy after 1-2 episodes) This has changed since becoming pregnant and now with the baby. I’ve had to realize that I probably won’t get everything done on my daily to-do list, because frankly, it’s out of my control. Fussy baby from 3-7 pm? The chances of me making dinner goes down significantly. Cluster feeding baby from 6 pm till midnight? The chances of me leaving the couch and writing a blog post (I’m still getting used to breastfeeding and haven’t quite mastered the one-handed feed) are slim to none. And that’s okay. So how is a to-do list person supposed to adapt? I still make my lists, but now I have a weekly list and prioritize one thing in a day. And these are small tasks, like “do laundry,” “buy stamps,” “write thank you card for X,” etc. This way if I have one of those days where I end up having to binge watch Sex & The City for 3 hours while FW feasts (Seasons 4 and 5 are too relatable now for me), at least I know I have the next day to get something done.
What is something you’re super proud of about your approach to parenthood so far?
I’m really proud that I haven’t let FW change too much of my “normal” life and change me. Since we brought him home, while of course our lives have changed a lot, there is still have sense of normalcy. I still bake (somewhat). I still blog. I’m back running (somewhat). I’m still showering daily (but kudos to you moms who don’t shower daily – I’ve always been a person that HAS to shower…I took 2 today!). I also haven’t let him keep me homebound – within the first week or so we took him to Coastal Taco for our first lunch out. Nearly every Friday night, B and I go out for a happy hour beer to celebrate the weekend. We went out for beers and dinner tonight on E 4th to celebrate B’s brother’s birthday. He’s really been all around downtown. These are all things that keep me sane – they make me, me. I’m not saying that all moms should make sure to leave the house daily, go for runs, go out to restaurants, etc. Do what you’re comfortable doing – but do what makes you feel like YOU.
I haven’t lost my identity since becoming a mom – I’m still me, just me as FW’s mom.
A mindset I’ve adopted that I’m proud of is giving myself ONE thing to do each day to help me feel like me. Whether that’s making sure I shower, telling myself we’re going to go for a walk, or just having one sit down meal, I try to do one thing to help me feel sane.
Confess without shame: What’s one thing you’ve screwed up as a mom so far?
Not letting the baby sleep! The first few weeks I did not realize that FW should be sleeping nearly all day. Honestly, I thought he was just cranky and not tired. So, I mistakenly overstimulated him. We went for 2-3 walks/day, played with his playmat, read books, etc. By 3 or 4 pm, he was super cranky and I didn’t know why. Well, now I know – he was tired and couldn’t get himself to sleep! Now I make sure or at least try to get him swaddled and in his crib 1-2 times a day for a nap. It’s not nearly enough, but he’s much happier when he has slept.
What is something your husband is really good at, dad-wise?
Honestly? Nearly everything. B has excelled at bottle feeding FW, carrying him, bathing him (something I still haven’t done…whoops!), and being my support system. I’m so lucky – he is much more of a natural than I ever could have imagined and I’m so grateful that he is around. He was off for two weeks when I gave birth and it definitely made the transition that much easier.
Have you read any parenting books? Any recommendations? Any discussion about how they make you feel like drinking because you’re clearly failing?
I have two books that go through infant development the first few years- does that count? And unfortunately I haven’t read much of them. I haven’t gotten the hang of reading while holding or feeding a baby yet … maybe that’s a good thing so I can just drink and not feel like I’m failing?
You had a bunch of friends have babies right before you did. How do you think this affected your own experience/approach to pregnancy and early motherhood?
I am so so so so so so so so (etc) lucky to have friends have babies right before me. I have been able to learn from them about pregnancy and childbirth and now motherhood and it has been so great to have people to talk to and know what I’m going through. I didn’t know much about pregnancy and childbirth and postpartum life (breastfeeding, raising babies, healing your body, sleepless nights, etc.). I feel like we don’t talk much about it as a society and I was clueless – until I had friends going through the same thing. Yes, we’re all different and experience everything differently, but it’s nice not to feel alone or too surprised by anything!
This was so much fun! Don’t forget to head over to her blog to see my own answers to some of these questions (and if you’re still expecting, here’s a great post on unexpected essentials for new moms.)