Here's What I Regret From My First Year of Motherhood
My baby is going to reach a big milestone this week – her first birthday. That means that she'll no longer be classified as an infant . . . and that I am going to have to give up my title as a "new mom," a description that's given me more comfort than I ever could have expected. Whenever I was unsure, whenever I second-guessed a decision, I reminded myself that I was still a new mom, learning as I went. Now, after a solid year on duty, I am ready to meet my own developmental milestone, but not without a few regrets about my first year as a parent.
Refusing a Babysitter
I would often weigh the costs against each other and then, without fail, opt out: Is it really worth spending $15 an hour on a babysitter to get a $12 manicure? I wish I'd told myself what a great deal that really was — a worthwhile fee so that I could recharge my batteries and feel like a human. Do my husband and I really need to fork over cash and cab fare for a babysitter so we can go to dinner in a restaurant, instead of eating for free in our own kitchen? Turns out, we did really need to. (And here's why . . .)
Putting My Marriage Last
For a good portion of our baby’s first year, my husband and I were like ships in the night. While I was on maternity leave, I’d be home alone all day with our newborn, he’d return from work, and I’d barely make eye contact with him as I put our bundle of joy in his arms so I could go take a nap until it was his turn to sleep. And when we did get back on a normal routine, our time together mainly involved arguments about who was doing more, who was doing it wrong, and who was being a martyr (nine times out of 10, me). If I'd handled my relationship with my partner as tenderly as I did the care of my infant, we would have been a lot happier.
Being Too Committed to Breastfeeding
I was so determined to breastfeed exclusively for the first year of my baby’s life that I made a lot of unnecessary sacrifices. Because of a weeklong work trip, I would wake myself up in the middle of the night to pump so that my baby would have ample breast milk while I was gone. When my freezer inventory was low, I’d cancel plans for fear that she’d go hungry. I foolishly never once considered supplementing with formula. I’m proud as hell for how long I’ve been able to nurse, but I would have been a calmer mom with a little less all-or-nothing pressure.
Not Thinking Those Monthly Photo Shoots Through
We got those cute little belly stickers as a baby shower gift and set out to do as Facebook-ascribing parents do and take monthly photos of our baby. I decided, in addition to the stickers, to set her on a chair, so you could see how she grew over time. All was fine the first six months. Then, she discovered that the sticker I placed on her belly could come off and be crumpled and licked. And that the chair she was sitting on could be jumped off of head first.
Being So Distracted
I once caught myself watching an adorable Facebook video of my baby on repeat while my baby was playing at my feet. The fact that this infant gets positively giddy when she sees my iPhone makes me realize how often she must watch me staring at its glowing screen, enthralled. I can already tell that, as a parent, this will be my Everest.
Overthinking Every Sleep Decision
One month, I was kicking myself for being callous and letting my baby cry herself to sleep. The next month, I was kicking myself for being weak and rocking her back to dreamland at 3 a.m. The truth is, I’ll always cherish those extra cuddle sessions . . . even though I know I’ll live to regret it later.
Neglecting the Baby Book
I was so on top of it while on maternity leave, but the minute I went back to work, I completely forgot to keep up. As a second child, my own memory book is severely lacking in details, and considering I still bring it up to my parents, I’m frustrated I didn’t set more reminders to tackle a page or two now and then.
Not Taking More Photos of Other People
Anyone with 20,000 JPEG files on their laptop can’t regret not taking enough pictures, but when only about 10 of those photos include people other than the baby, it’s a problem. I should have made a point to learn about my new camera’s self-timer feature to take more photos with the whole family, and I really missed some unforgettable moments by not panning out of videos of my baby’s first crawl or first bite of avocado to capture my husband’s reaction, too.
Hating My Body
I can’t recall a single time this year when I looked in the mirror and felt genuinely happy with what I saw in the reflection. I still hate getting out of the shower and zeroing in on my flabby stomach. I hate trying on the same pair of too-tight jeans every week with the same depressing result. I hate retreating to yoga pants and slouchy cardigans because nothing else is comfortable. But mostly, I hate how much time I wasted being upset about a body that’s really had one hell of a rough year and could use a little break.
Feeling Too Embarrassed to Snap a Brelfie
Sure, it’s cool to see the rise of the #NormalizeBreastfeeding campaign on Instagram, but I certainly have no desire to contribute with a posted selfie of me breastfeeding. Still, I do wish I threw on some mascara and took a semidecent shot of myself nursing . . . for my eyes only. It’s such a short, intimate time that I’m going to want to remember vividly.
Believing I'm Perfect One Minute and a Failure the Next
I've too often volleyed from feeling like a better parent than every parent — "I would never do (insert thing I'll do a week from now here)" — to wondering if someone should just take my child out of my inept hands. From here on out, I am striving to be sufficient.