Have you ever wished you could go back and have another go at doing something really important again?
I’m sure every parent feels that way at some stage, where they wish they could go back and do things differently. “I wish I had known this when I was younger.” Common words spoken! Well, I got to do parenting again when I had James. He is the youngest of my four sons.
My first three sons, I had within 4 years. What a ride. Half the time I was just keeping my head above water, let alone thinking too deeply about how my actions were moulding these young souls who were so reliant on me and my husband. I remember feeling the pressure almost daily to get it right, and yet feeling like a failure half the time. Eventually I just remember bringing it down to this, “just love them Tracey and keep them alive!” That’s it. Keep it simple. It did take the pressure off, and yes, they are still alive. Phew!
At thirty-nine, I looked at the expired pregnancy test, found in the depths of my bathroom drawer, and the two lines told me there was going to be a fourth child. After the initial shock and breaking the news to my now 47-year-old husband – I was on for another ride. This time I had experience on my side and the knowledge of how fleeting this time truly is.
When James was born, I remember thinking – “I’d forgotten how intense it is to have a newborn.”. I mistakenly thought that after 3, I’d be a real pro at this. I had to adapt – yet again to the timelessness and unpredictable nature of having a newborn, complete with all the activities that come with three other children. It wasn’t too long though that I found my stride and before I knew it – I was thriving in the joy of James and what he brought to my partner and other children. I guess it’s like a new puppy – they are fascinating creatures and bring out the best in people.
Here are 7 things becoming a parent again and the joy of James taught me;
- Life is full of mystery, just trust that ultimately everything works out and some things are just meant to happen. Don’t fight it.
- Sleep is overrated, and I chose to appreciate the bed sharing, sweet smelling heads in the middle of the night, hugs and wet sloppy kisses because it really is fleeting. Don’t fight it.
- Get a really good baby carrier. I used a Hug a bub, and that meant I could take James anywhere, anytime and he would sleep happily nestled to my chest. It was a life-saver.
- When you don’t know why they are crying, and you’ve addressed every possible obvious need – just be ok with the crying. I started using it as a practice in being calm. I would return my attention to my breath, breathe gently and slowly, and imagine my body as a vessel of love for my baby.
- Don’t be so precious about my baby. Other people could comfort him, like his dad and, and even when he wanted mum, I would tell him that it is ok for others to love you too. I didn’t feel like I needed to be the answer to all his needs.
- The art of presence. Children have these radars that identify when no one’s home. James would grab my face and point it in his direction if he sensed I wasn’t listening when he was speaking. He was like a little master – teaching me to focus. He demanded my presence and I was smart enough not to fight it. It meant that I noticed things and could hold precious moments.
- Don’t worry about big emotional moments with a baby and young child, even in public. People will think what they will think. My baby’s feelings were more important to me than other people’s opinions about what I should be doing with my child. When you have parented for a while, you realise that most people don’t know what they are talking about when offering opinions about your child – but that they don’t know, what they don’t know. It’s funny really. Don’t take it on as your problem.
Thrive in the chaos of your baby
I ultimately came back to the fact that I won’t always respond in the best way, in the moment, but mostly I do ok. I went back to my early mantra, “Just love them and keep them alive.” I can do that. The rest is details. Parenting got a whole lot easier and much more enjoyable after this. I learnt to thrive in the chaos and joy of life with children.
Feel free to steal my mantra or come up with your own as a little reminder to stay calm, be present and not to sweat the small stuff as the parent of a new baby.