Monday, June 5, 2017

The SECOND Second 9 Months

As I sat down to write this I found myself rereading my blog post from when Lydia turned 9 months and the things I had learned in those first months of motherhood.

When Lydia turned 9 months old, I wrote a post about 9 things I had learned since she was born. They were heart-felt and resonated deep within me as a new mom. Then life went on and I continued to learn new life lessons with my ever growing child and family and in some ways I forgot and pushed away what had been so important to me those first 9 months of motherhood.

I sat down to write about my second 9 months with my second baby and found myself rereading that first post "9 months in and 9 months out" and I wish I would have reflected sooner. I needed to hear it all again and again.. and it has got me thinking about what I've learned (and relearned) this second time around.

1- I have learned to take off the I-DO-EVERYTHING-AND-ASK-FOR-NOTHING badge and realize that sometimes I need to do a little bit for myself to keep the peace in the house. 

A mother is a giver. She gives of her body, her time, her heart, her sleep and energy, and some give up careers to be a mother. There are times when I sneak into the other room to eat a Popsicle because I don't want to share with my kids or I slide the iPad with Super Why playing to my toddler because the baby is still sleeping and I want to catch a few more minutes of shut-eye myself while only one is awake.

But most of the time I can't do things for myself immediately. If we are all hungry, the kids get fed first. Most of the time the girls walk around dressed and clean while I stay in yoga pants that I've been wearing for 4 days straight and a pony tail and Sunday's make-up still on my face.. and it's Wednesday. 

And while I wanted to throw a pity party for myself at times, I had to learn to be an advocate for myself and not feel guilty about going to the gym and having my kids in the daycare for an hour. Or the fact that I turned on the tv so I could get that shower in before naptime so that I could also take a nap with the girls. 

If I take care of myself too, I am a happier and nicer mom.

It's okay to ask for time to take care of you.

2- Change and adaption is the new normal. Each time I thought I had something down or I thought because I had done this 'baby thing' before that I knew what I was doing.. I was proven wrong.

I still felt much much more confident this time around, but there were things about this baby that was different just because these kids are different people. Adeline didn't thrive on routine the way Lydia did and she is pickier with her milk feedings and prefers solid foods. Small things that have just thrown little holes and changes in my normal. 

And I've learned (and continue to learn) to adapt.. and roll with it the best I can.

3- I am learning more and more that I can't control everything. When it is just you.. you have more control about what goes on in your life. And then you get married and you lose some of the control. The more people you add, the less control you hold. 

When it was just me and Lydia, I had much more control over what was going on each day.. I thrived on routine and my baby followed suit because it was something I could control most of the time. My perfectionist personality showed through with a lot of things. I was in charge of bedtimes and naptimes and feeding and play. I knew my baby and our day like clockwork and it was easier to plan things.

In my second, second 9 months, I have learned I can't control each day and all that happens. That means that sometimes play dates get cancelled because the whole house of Larson's need a nap, or that the kitchen that was sparkly clean before the kids woke up is now in shambles and they've only been awake for 5 minutes. I can't control all that because that is life with two kids.

I can't control that we got all ready for church and drove through the snow only to leave during the first hour because the baby had a fever that I didn't notice before. I can't control that.

What I can control, is my response to it.

And that is everything. So maybe this just goes with learning to adapt with the change and responding the best I can. 

4- I can do hard things. That has been my motto this year. I have been out of my comfort zone in different ways, especially as we have tried to fix up this house while having a new baby and new job. I remind myself when something I need to do overwhelms me that I can do hard things. I can do it. 

When I wanted to paint the kitchen cupboards and that moment hit when things have to get worse before they get better and you wonder what the heck you just did to yourself (Add on the mom guilt of having your kids watch more tv to keep them out of the kitchen and also having a tired husband who wants to be supportive but doesn't love all your DIY projects and lets you know it).. I told myself I can do hard things and pushed through it.

I can do hard things when we stayed up late watching The Last Decent with your husband and you haven't watched a movie together forever so you keep watching even when you know you need to sleep. Then you end up dreaming about it when you do go to sleep and toss and turn. Then the baby is up because her teething gums hurt and your toddler has a bad dream about a boat (at least I think she was telling me that?) and you check your fitbit to find out you only slept for 2 hours the whole night and now you need to go to church but you can't even keep your eyes open.. etc.. I can do hard things.

5- Parenting is different for everyone and... each kid requires different parenting. 

I have been that judgmental person of the parent in the Walmart.. and the one at the park and everywhere in between. And then I became a parent and realized how hard and unique it is. I remember coming home from the hospital with my first thinking "People are just letting me come home with a human being that I am in charge of and they trust me to take care of it?" It's a huge responsibility.. and it is HARD!

My parenting is different than that of my sister's parenting.. and it is different than my mom's. My parenting is even different than my husbands and it most certainly is different for each of my children. And I suspect it will only get more different with each child as well. 

The key to parenting is that you do your best. AND you don't judge.

6- Don't be afraid to ask for help. I could cry as I write about this one because in the past 9 months I have had to ask for help more than I secretly want to admit. 

Most Sundays I go to church by myself because Brian has to work. While I realize so many people do this all the time, it has been new for me. And while some Sundays are smoother than others, it is so much better when I ask for help. 

On Mother's Day this year, Brian was working and I spent the morning cleaning up splattered urine and spit up. I got the kids in the car to realize I had left the lights on and the car was dead. We were already late for church, but I got the kids in the stroller and we walked.

I arrived hot and sweaty and we missed the sacrament but at least we were there. The family we normally sit by (and who are my church angels) weren't there that day so we looked for any open seat. The only seats available without disrupting more were on the back row with the aisle in front. We squished in and pretty much immediately the circus started.

Addie spit up and Lydia was throwing a fit as well as the goldfish crackers all over. I found myself going back and forth between the two to entertain them and get them to be quiet.

I was feel flushed and stressed (and still sweaty from walking) and finally the couple next to me took Addie so I could clean myself up from spit up and try to calm my toddler down all while faintly hearing a talk about how wonderful mother's are and their patience and realizing I was quickly losing mine. The sweet lady on my other side leaned over to me and said, "You are doing great."

They were just the words I needed to hear but they also got the waterworks going and I quickly grabbed my ornery Lydia and ran out of the chapel to find an empty classroom to cry in.. which only made Lydia freak out more ("Mommy cry?! Why Mommy sad?") in which she did a loud sympathetic cry for me. I wiped my tears quickly, calmed her down, took a huge breath and returned to sacrament meeting.

The rest of church I had people helping me right and left. And I told myself to let them help. I can't always be the helper and I need to learn to let others serve and help me. I needed it that day and many days since.

7- Write things down. You think you will always remember. But you don't.  While pictures are a great way of journaling these days, words can still go farther in our memories. 

Our awesome phones have these cool things called "apps" and you can find some sweet note taking and journalling apps. What I do is tell myself I can't get on Instagram or Pinterest or something until I have written in my note app about our day. And I am always so happy that I do because you just forget the day to day things. And sometimes what felt huge then isn't and what felt too small to mention turns out to be so special.

It's moments like what is pictured below. I think I would have only remembered that we had lunch with Brian while he was working a long shift. But thankfully I wrote down how excited both girls were when they saw him and how even my heart jumped. I also wrote about how Lydia insisted on wearing her little Doc McStuffin's backpack when she has no idea who the character is, she just likes being like daddy.

Write things down.

8- Nurture your husband as well as your kids. He needs some love and attention too. Teaching my kids that daddy and mommy's relationship comes first is hard and I am not the best teacher in this subject while these kids are so little. But it is something I want to learn more and get better at as they get older and can understand. 

We are striving to make date night more of a priority and that paying for a babysitter is indeed worth it.

This was our first date night (that wasn't the temple) in months. And I was giddy with excitement that it was actually happening because it had been so long.

Sometimes I let the kids completely take over my time with him and my energy for him. This and many many more dates and nurturing is needed.

9- It will all turn out okay

We recently watched the NBC series of This is Us and we loved it. At first it made us all worried that all our mistakes as parents will come out in our kids as they get older even though we are trying our very best. But then as the show went on things turn out okay just like I know they will in real life.

It's learning to have faith and continue to develop it. Isaiah 8:17 speaks "I will wait upon the Lord..and look for him." This has spoken deeply to me and taught me that when frustrations and trials come I must draw nearer to my Savior and I will be strengthened and healed. By doing so, my faith with increase and I will see the positive outcomes and feel the joy that accompanies them. 

We will be helped in this parenting journey and I am so grateful for that because I only know what I am doing 5% of the time. But in doing my best, I know that things will work out as they should. 

With posts like these I find myself worrying about offending others... to those who struggle to create their families I worry about sounding like I am complaining when I have these two babes in my arms. And to those of my friends who don't want to be a mother because they feel their life will only be diapers and laundry, I worry that my life reflects that worry.

But to both kinds of people I truly hope my life is real. Not perfect or staged or negative. 

I love this life and I write these things down for my own sake as well as in hopes someone will feel more normal and know they aren't alone. 

Satan would have us feel isolated and alone in our struggles, destined to compare ourselves with the lives of others and constantly fall short. It is my small hope that by being vulnerable and honest with what I struggle with and learn that someone else can be uplifted. 

9 months is a long time in so many ways, but I really do feel like this hasn't been long enough. 

I want more. More time to soak in the happiness I feel right now. 

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