Now that I have become a parent, and parenting decisions are no longer a thought exercise but a daily reality, there are many things I've renegotiated. And thank god.
The most important lesson I've learned as a parent so far is flexibility (not something I've ever been good at). You just can't plan out parenthood. Babies are tiny humans with individual needs. And I'm also a unique individual with my own needs and preferences as a parent.
With all that in mind, I've been able to look back at all the things I was certain I'd never think/do/say, and laugh at my utter cluelessness.
I swore I'd never....
Co-sleep. One of the most horrifying discoveries of parenthood was that babies are not born knowing how to sleep soundly in a crib. I did not know this. I really, really didn't know this. So Nathan and I took turns sleeping only half the night and holding the baby the other half the night. For our first two months as parents, we didn't sleep in the bed together. We were certain we shouldn't co-sleep, but our "alternative" was actually pretty stupid and potentially unsafe, in retrospect. Eventually we naturally ended up co sleeping, and it was miraculous. We all slept soundly, I nursed lying down and barely woke in the night, and we woke up to sweet baby cuddles!! 9 months in and I'm still convinced it was one of the best decisions we made for our family. Gresham needs touch and closeness, and I need sleep; so this was a really great way to meet everyone's needs. Now that I know how great safe cosleeping can be, I'm a bit bummed I didn't know this from the start!
Question vaccination. What a touchy subject. I have always been very pro-vaccination and thought that anyone who chose to forego vaccinations had to be irresponsible and uninformed. While i still believe vaccinating is a very important public health issue and have chosen to get Gresham vaccinated on schedule, I've developed a bit more understanding toward the "anti-vaxxers". Rather than being angry at parents who choose not to vaccinate, my anger has been redirected at the pharmaceutical industry which has given parents so many reasons to feel fear and distrust. It's hard to watch your perfect little baby be poked and injected with a concoction of chemicals; it's easy to question that decision when you see your baby's legs swell and have to soothe his crying all night after his shots. I still vaccinate and wish everyone did, but I've softened a bit.
Use my phone or watch TV around my kid. Listen, sometimes you need a minute to remind yourself that life exists outside the messy house in which you are currently kinda trapped.
Take a billion photos of my kid. He really is so cute that I physically cannot stop myself from taking pictures of him every day.
Post a billion photos of my kid to social media. First of all, my social media (Uhh except this blog) are private and I don't accept friend requests from people I don't know, so I'm not totally irresponsible. Second of all, I've learned that the people who I'm actually friends with want to see photos of my kid; they actually ask me to post photos of him. The people who matter most to me don't seem to tire of seeing pictures of what is happening in our lives. And honestly, the people who do mind have probably unfollowed me anyways. Plus, as stated above, I'm physically unable to refrain because he's too damn cute.
Own toys that make obnoxious noises. Umm now I know why they sell all those loud plinky toys - kids love them. Gresham is obsessed with his tiny piano and basically anything he can bang on that will in turn make noises. I'll admit we have taken the batteries out of one particularly annoying toy, though.
Become a stay-at-home mom. I was certain I wanted to be a working mom. I loved my job; it was the perfect job for me. I was a part of something bigger than myself when I was at work, and was part of the most wonderful community. I couldn't imagine myself ever leaving my job. And then all of a sudden I could. The more Gresham grew and developed his personality, the more my heart ached being away from him. The more I longed to be near my child, the less dedicated I became to my work. I felt torn between two identities, and it was exhausting. Leaving my job was the hardest decision I've ever had to make, but I know it was the right one. All I have to do is look at my precious boy and I'm reminded that I am where I'm supposed to be.
Know love like this. Well here's one I was right about, even if I couldn't fully grasp what it would look like. I'm overwhelmed every day by my love for this kid. At night I get in bed and just watch him sleep, longing to slow down the time. My love for him is more intense than anything I could've imagined. It has changed me in ways I couldn't have imagined and for which I am so grateful.