I know I don’t often write you letters on random days of the month, but usually gather up all the little things I want to say to you into your monthly letter. Today is different though, because today, I don’t want to tell you about you. I want, instead, to tell you about me.
Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
The things I have learned about me are more than I ever knew possible.
I have learned that there are some things that you can never know until you have experienced them. Holding your first born is one of them.
I have learned that there is an unused, previously unknown portion of your heart that suddenly comes alive once there is this kind of love to fill it. I never missed it before you were born, because I didn’t know that it was there.
I have learned that I actually do possess perseverance skills. Laughable as it sounds now, I was dreadfully worried that I’d become bored of being a mother. Sure, I’m only about 1/18th through the influential part of motherhood, but still: so far, so good.
I have learned that I am exceptionally capable. Things that may have seemed daunting two years ago are now common place. Like surviving on day after day of broken sleep. Of having quiet ‘me-times’ be far and few between, and yet finding new ways of achieving inner peace and quiet. Of utilising and maximising the shortest times to the greatest effect.
I have learned that my mind is inquisitive â€“ something I have always known, yet now I have the time to explore things â€“ like how breast milk is made, ingredients in commonly accepted child medications and so on. I have the time to discover and the intelligence to understand.
I have learned that I am fiercely passionate. Which amuses me, because the things I am passionate about are things I never knew existed just a few years ago. I don’t do anything because I think it looks good. I do it because I believe that it is.
I have learned that I am worthy. I am worthy to be loved, just as I love. I am worthy of being respected, just as I respect you. I am allowed, no, required to care for myself, so that I can care for you.
I have learned that I can look in the mirror and not despise what I see â€“ not because it is beautiful, but because I do not want you to mimic self-loathing. I have learned that I will love myself, and accept myself as I am, so that you will do the same for yourself.
And I guess the most important thing that I have learned, that you have taught me, is that I am strong. ClichÃ© as that may sound, there have been days when I’ve not wanted to get out of bed. Yet I get up, and I carry on, and I do the best I can on those days. Even when I feel my tank is empty. Those days I realise that I am strong.
As much as some people like jumping up and down with statements of being ‘sick to death’ of those in the â€œnatural birth campâ€ or â€œthe breastfeeding campâ€ or â€œthe natural parenting campâ€ for making them feel inadequate, I cannot help, nor apologise, for what you have taught me. And I am proud.
That I can endure 48 hours of labour with focus and willpower to birth a child â€“ just as a marathon runner or mountain climber feels pride â€“ so do I. That I can go through the ups and downs of breastfeeding, pumping, nipple pain, mastitis, and still nurse you â€“ I feel pride that I persevered. That I hold you close, keep you near, sleep by you, attach you to my heart, my head and my body, I feel pride that I can dedicate these years to you, knowing that these days will come back to me many fold.
I feel pride, because it is my achievement. It is what I have worked for. It is what I have learned from this experience of motherhood, thus far. I feel pride when I look at where I have come from and where I have been and how I have grown. And when I look at you, I know that my sense of pride is not an exaltation of myself above any other woman.
No, it is an exaltation of myself above my old self. It is the betterment of me.
And it is all because of you.
How will I ever thank you?
With all my love.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 11 with all the carnival links.)
I know I say this often, little girl, but seriously, how much you can grow in one month just blows my mind. We have watched you, these last few weeks shed off the last of your ‘baby-ness’ and really take on the mantle of little girl. Daddy and I have both commented at times in these last two weeks how much you’ve changed in just fourteen days.
The biggest thing is comprehension. You understand what we’re saying to you, even if you can’t answer in words, and don’t yet have all the right words either, but you definitely understand. For example, I gave you some Ashton and Parson’s for your teeth, then scrunched up the wrapper and you took it from me. I said, for no other reason than to say it, certainly not expecting you to do anything, â€œpop it in the bin when you’re done.â€ And lo and behold, you rolled off the sofa we were sitting on, toddled over to the bin, lifted the lid, and dropped it inside. I was so surprised, I started clapping and you beamed your beautiful smile at me. I tried it again the next day, and you did it again. I couldn’t believe it.
Your vocabulary is growing by the day. Sometimes you say words you don’t understand at first, but you quickly get it. You call a cat a cat, but most other animals you’ll point at and make a ‘woof’ sound. You know and recognise bubbles, and call any round object, such as a ball, a circle and so on ‘bubble’. You’ve taken a strong fancy to your Aunty Deshaine’s old doll, and will carry it around calling it ‘baby’. Anything to drink is â€œdhwhaterâ€, but you do know actual water when you see it. Anything to eat is â€œhmmm-mmmhhâ€ and usually followed by an open mouth, waiting to be filled. Although we’ve always signed â€œmilkâ€ you’ve now learned to put a word with it – â€œdwhooooâ€ with a rising accent on the â€œooooâ€. We figure it sounds like â€œboooooobsâ€ to you.
You know Nana, Oupa, Daddy, Mummy, and Desh by name, and you recognise each of us in pictures. The sound of a motorbike is always met with wide eyes and â€œOupaâ€. The sound of someone at the door is usually met with the same expression, but â€œNanaâ€ on your lips.
There are some words you use but don’t really understand yet. Like when you sign â€œpooâ€ by holding your nose, and say the word â€œpooâ€, but you don’t seem to really know what it means yet.
You adore your aunty and the days she stays over are probably your favourite. She is so patient with you and allows you to lead her around the house as you wish. Her room is a magical playground. Last week you practically dragged me up the stairs to her room and stood banging at the door. I opened it to show you she wasn’t there, so you lay down on the floor and cried. It broke my heart.
New Year’s Eve Daddy and I went out, and you stayed with Oupa and Nana. You were so well behaved, I was very proud of you. When we got to their house around 2am and decided to crash there, you curled up in my arms and went to sleep as per usual. You weren’t even clingly the next day.
You have the most incredible, infectious laugh, it makes everyone stop to see what you’re doing, and you’re as friendly as you’ve always been. You’re also so content. Earlier this month we went to a restaurant with a group of friends. You have been out with us so often, that it really doesn’t phase you, but everyone commented on how you were peaceful, calm, and largely self entertaining for the entire afternoon. Again, I was proud to be your mama.
This is an adventure, beautiful girl, and you’re fully at the helm. Thank you for who you’ve turned us into. We love you eternally.