Lessons Learned From One Month Of Having My Own Family

Today my son is one month old and over these 30 days of his life I have changed over 300 poopy diapers, I have had a small fraction of the 240 hours of sleep most others enjoyed, and yet, somehow, I have never been happier.  I have never felt a love so perfect, as when I look into his blue eyes.

In fact, my heart is overflowing with love these days, and sure, a lot of these happy mushy feelings probably come from the love hormone oxytocin racing through my bloodstream in unparalleled volumes following every breastfeed, but its more than that.  Its also more than the love I feel for the small human who has entered into my life.

For starters, there is a new appreciation for my husband, for the man who started this family with me.  For the man who held my hand through 24 gruelling hours of labour, and managed to rally me in the final moments of trying to push this kid out by exclaiming “I can see him!  I can see our son, and he has hair!”

I have also found that nothing brings a family closer, than the addition to its ranks of a tiny new member.  The bonds between relatives near and far have been strengthened, deepened, and revitalised, over the shared celebrations of my son’s birth.

The learning curve in parenting is steep.  My cerebral cortex has been hard at work over the last 30 days, learning, mostly through trial and error, more lessons than I can count. From how to tactically avoid getting peed on at every diaper change to how to tackle the intricate workings of the stroller/car seat docking system.  But more importantly I have learned some critical life lessons, with a more universal appeal.

Enjoy the Now

This moment right now, is unlike any other you will ever experience in this lifetime, it is one of a kind.  Savour it.  Revel in it.  Your children will never be this small again, your parents will never be this young and healthy again, enjoy them, enjoy the now.  Easier said than done, right?

Instead, we spend the vast majority of our time looking ahead.  Focusing on the next goal, the next benchmark.  Over the past month, my son has doubled in size, he has learned to use his little hands, and hold up his little head.  He is developing at rapid speed, and if I blink I will miss it.  I remind myself everyday, not to look ahead, not to dream of the days when he sleeps through the night or says his first words, but instead to plant myself in this moment.  To fully appreciate how small he is, and like all moments in life, how fleeting, how truly magically unique this one is.

By living lives which are entirely goal oriented, the magic of moments passes us by.  During my last visit to California my two year old niece was deep into potty training.  An incredibly tedious process, and I found the every 30 minute bathroom breaks particularly annoying during our trip to the San Diego Zoo.  I caught myself thinking, I cannot wait until this is over, as I kneeled down beside the tenth toilet we had visited at the zoo, in fact we had seen more porcelain than animals at that stage.  Then she looked at me, hands outstretched for help down, and exclaimed “I did it”  with a grin from ear to ear.  We then did a happy dance there in the bathroom stall together, and ran out to tell her Uncle Alty all about her triumph.

Every moment is stunning, if we choose to see the beauty in it.  If we are determined to bask in life’s simple pleasures, even poo can be spectacular.

We Take Our Family For Granted

Exhausted from the battle of childbirth, laying in the hospital bed in the early hours of the morning while a drip pumped into my arm, I watched my husband and my newborn son snore away; and in this moment I started to fully fathom my parent’s love.  Awake in the middle of the night, every night, just to feed my little guy, this love has become even clearer.  Cleaning explosive poos that manage to seep through diapers, two layers of clothing, and all the bedding, its pretty dang clear; a parents love is immeasurable.

Yet, how many times have I avoided retuning my mom’s phone call in the last year?  How many times have I flagged an email from my brother, to reply to later, only to ultimately leave it unanswered?  We take our family for granted.  Subconsciously, we assume, they have always been there, so they always will.  Sadly, these most important of relationships, are the ones most neglected, even the ones most abused.  Who do we show our worst sides to?  Not our friends, but our family.  We live with the belief that family bonds can take a beating, family bonds can wait for their turn for nurturing.

Family; Your First, Your Last, Your Everything

Our family is our first set of allies on this planet.  They are the foundation of all that we are.  We need to make them a priority.  We need to remember that we cannot live up to our true potential without a helping hand, and family are there, willing, waiting, and eager to provide it.

Return your mom’s phone calls, reply to those emails.  When you are holding your baby, or at your kid’s soccer game, don’t pretend to be in the moment, actually embed yourself in that reality.  Put away the distraction of your phone, your kindle, or your laptop, choose the light in their faces over the light of a screen.

Invest in your family, nurture your relationships and treasure all of your moments, not only because your parents have clearly invested in you, but selfishly because its a good investment!  It will pay back in immeasurable rewards for years and years to come.