Six months ago, I wrote a letter to myself. Six months later, I'm going revisit that letter and grade myself on how I am keeping my advice to myself.
(This feels terrible navel-gazing-ish. More so than usual. But, a few people mentioned they'd like to read an update on that whole parenthood thing and the letter. And so, here I am. Looking at my belly button.)
Spend time with Mike: A-
Well, we spend LOTS and LOTS of time together, since we're so, so blessed to both work outside of the home for only 20 hours a week. (His assistantship is teaching, so he gets to work from home quite a bit.) For the first three months, we spent almost all of our time with Gabe. Now that he has a (fairly) strict 7 pm bedtime and several long naps a day, we have afternoons and evenings to ourselves to hang out, chat, eat popcorn, watch movies, and snuggle. It's wonderful. Of course, we often spend these evenings doing our own thing - me on my computer designing and
wasting my time doing important things on the internet while Mike does schoolwork. We've done a good job of not only talking about Gabe during our alone time, but our conversations are always peppered with a good bit of non sequitur gushing about how darn cute he is. We will be talking about foreign policy or religion or crazy customers at Starbucks, and sigh out of nowhere, "Gabe is so freaking cute!" We discuss Gabe's personality and our parenting philosophies. I show him photos I'm editing of Gabe and Mike imitates Gabe's funny movements (lately, shoving his hands in our mouth). We are a couple that cares about other Important Things, but we are also parents that absolutely, deeply, and unwaveringly adore our son.
Though we have less time that we spend alone as a couple, Gabe feels like an extension of us (which he totally is, I suppose) and I actually love being all together and don't crave date nights alone (yet!).
Don’t worry so much: B
During pregnancy, I tended to worry less instead of worry more. I didn't want to be the pregnant lady who went to the hospital twelve times in false labor while nurses rolled their eyes. Even though there is an emphasis on all that can be WRONG (with good reason, it's important to catch the True Bad Things early), I knew that odds were I wasn't going to experience the Bad Things, so I didn't worry. (Except, oh, that time there was the possibility Gabe the Fetus had Down syndrome. Yeah, I worried. A lot.)
Parenting has been largely the same, but lately, I've felt that annoying sense of worry creep up. Should he be sleeping longer at night? Will breaking him of his swaddling habit be torturous? Is it okay that he's doing X? Not doing Y? Normal parent stuff, I'm sure. But, still, I hate worrying. Down with the worrying! (I've also had to ban myself from reading about sick or dying babies. It's just bad for my soul. Why didn't anyone tell me being a parent was this vulnerable?)
Talk about things other than your baby: B-
Something as monumental and life-changing as becoming a parent obviously changes things. I underestimated (here's where all the moms in the audience nod and a knowing smile spreads across their face) the extent to which I would want to talk about being a parent with others. To process it. To learn about myself and my child and my husband from it. Although I often talk about other, non-Gabe things to Mike and my co-workers, I know I am all Gabe/pregnancy/babies/parenting, all the time for many people. Namely, the Internets.
(Hi, Internet. I do care about other stuff. I promise I'll talk about it soon. Like, when Gabe is three.)
Learn about things other than your baby: B+
So, we've watched approximately 3 million documentaries since Gabe was born. Or, okay, maybe two dozen. Either way, I'm a learning machine. I still listen to some podcasts, but not nearly the rate I was before, with two hours of driving a day. *shudder* I'm not really reading as much as I'd like to...or at all, really. Aside from silly parenting magazines and far too many tweets. Let's work on that, self.
Record it all, but don’t spend so much time capturing that you forget to experience it: A
I find myself torn when Gabe is being absolutely adorable (all the time, natch) - I want to soak it all up and remember everything. I want to remember the way his eyelashes stick together and the water beads on his red little cheeks after he gets out of the bath. I want to remember how he giggles excitedly to himself before he starts to eat. I want to remember his little shark wiggle when he latches on. I want to remember the way he looks in his little puffy vest. I want to remember the way it feels when his soft, chubby little fingers wrap around mine. I want to remember how he laughs when I pretend to eat those little fingers.
I want to remember it all. And I get a bit weepy when I start to think about him not being so, well, little. Sometimes, I grab my camera or my phone and snap a photo, hoping that will etch it in my memory forever. Mostly, though, I try to just savor it.
(I know I spend too much time on my iPod while I'm rocking him to sleep; hanging out on my computer while he's playing. I don't want to forget anything and I don't want to regret anything.)
Spend time with you: A-
Yeah. Not so much with the time alone, but I'm definitely spending time doing what I want to do. (Like, this. Hi, blog. I love you.) I've gone out to lunch with friends alone a few times, I'm taking on all kinds of design jobs (new website!), I'm currently completing the Joy Equation, and I've signed up for Indie Business 3.0, which starts next month. These are all about me as a person, not just me as a mother (though, the two are beautifully, inextricably intertwined, of course).
I'm happy to find that I still am me, despite how much my world has been shaken and I have been changed by the arrival of this tiny little person we call Gabe.