Musings on Motherhood

 

Twenty-Five Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Mom

1. I have learned patience, because I had to teach it to myself, or else go crazy.  Sometimes, instead of praying that God will make her easier to deal with at a particular moment, I pray that He will help me better handle the situation.  Babies cry, and it’s okay if you need to give yourself a “time-out” sometimes.

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2. “Baby brain” does not go away.  Unless my child is asleep, I have never been able to focus on something like I did before.  That’s part of being a mom.

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3. I don’t always sleep when the baby sleeps.  That’s when I get things done.  My house is cleaner than it’s ever been, because once they start crawling, they will find every microscopic piece of dirt and put it in their mouth.  And if that’s all it is, don’t fret over it.

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4. I find myself looking for clues, a hint, at what my daughter may become.  We see her turning over her xylophone, spinning the wheels, trying to figure them out, and we think, “She’s going to be an engineer.”  When she inspects Brian’s teeth, it’s, “She’s going to be a dentist.”  We will nurture her talents as we nurture her (especially if it means she’ll make enough to take care of us in our old age).

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5. Though I am a creative individual, I found I’ve developed a more playful imagination.  There is a certain sort of magic about childhood that’s precious.  My daughter likes to lift up an edge of the area rug on our tile floor and I pretend there’s another world under there (like the other little girl in the mirror).  Children are filled with wonder and curiosity.  Nurture that as well.

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6. Sitting on the floor and playing with my child is quite cathartic and relaxing after a long day at work or a heavy study session.  It refreshes me and helps me focus even better when I have to return to adult matters.

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7. I now have a reason for swinging on the swings at the park.  (I have to show her how, after all.)  I’ve been sillier than I’ve ever been in my life.  Blowing bubbles is fun, and jumping on the trampoline will be fun–all over again.  One of my favorite things to do when I was little was to line up all my dolls and stuffed animals and yell at them (I guess that’s what I thought being an adult was all about).  I find that I am living a second childhood (not reliving), and that is not a bad thing.

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8. I’ve developed a new appreciation for Dr. Seuss.  I didn’t grow up with him (my parents preferred Mother Goose) and I always thought his illustrations were ugly.  But, a preschool teacher friend of mine was big on him, so I gave him a chance and, like “Green Eggs and Ham”, I tried him and now love him (and his drawings).  It is never too early to read to your child, and you can never have too many books.  And, if you manage to acquire some board books that aren’t in the best condition (or, if not, just go to the dollar store), let them have at them, so they can learn how to turn the pages, and just have the experience holding a book.  I read at least a novel a week, and I make sure she sees me reading.

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9. Songs hold their attention more when you use sign language.  I made up sign language for all twelve stanzas of “London Bridge is Falling Down”.

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10. My selfies have diminished and Hannah is now the darling of my camera.  My interest in photography has increased.  When buying a camera, get a good one.  It’s worth the investment.

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11. I’ve found myself wanting to learn more, for the more I know, the more I can teach her.

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12. 90% of my daughter’s time is unstructured, but 10% is learning through play (or just plain playing), the Montessori way.   I’ve learned that when kids are bored, they are forced to use their imagination.

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13. Baby talk.  I’d always said I’d never do it, but I do.  (Hey, Shakespeare made up words, too.)

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14. There is no such thing as too many paccies (or batteries).

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15. If you think you’re selfish when you’re single, that naturally diminishes when you become a mom.  As much as I want a new wardrobe, I want her to have the preschool experience more.

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16. It’s okay to not jump up and comfort them every time they fall.  Sometimes distracting them is enough to ward off a crying jag.

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17. It’s okay to let them get messy.  It’s good for sensory development to let them play with their food. (Mine loves to smash avocado all over her face and hair.)  If they’re hungry, they’ll eat it.  And putting them in the bath afterwards to play is a snap.

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18. Everything takes longer with a baby.  I have found that I’ve had to prioritize my time more.  Do I really need to see that episode of “Law and Order” again?  Children also aren’t made to be quiet and still all the time.  That’s what the DVR is for.

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19. I have received a lot of unsolicited advice about child-rearing.  None of it has been useful.

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20. It’s okay if you can’t breast-feed.  It doesn’t mean you’re lazy.  Sometimes it just doesn’t happen, no matter how much you want it to.

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21. I know I will never be able to protect my children from all “bad” foods.  There will be parties, there might even be McDonald’s.  That doesn’t mean I ever have to take her there.

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22. They’ll walk when they’re ready.  My daughter’s pediatrician, every single appointment, would mention about her being “developmentally delayed”.  My husband would bristle at the less than tactful terminology, but we’re putting her through all the tests (as much for her well-being as for our peace of mind), and at twenty months, she is walking (and isn’t stopping).

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23. I think back about my own parents and appreciate them more than I ever have in my life.  I never really knew how much my parents loved me till I had my own child.  All the pain, even the “indignity” of childbirth, the weight gain, the stretch marks, the lack of sleep, not being able to just pick up and go, the sense of being overwhelmed when you’re first alone with them, has all been worth it.

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24. I never think I’m a good enough mom, but I’ve found that if you’re trying to be, you are.

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25. Most of all, I make sure to make Hannah laugh.  A child’s smile is a light in a sometimes dark world, and their laughter is the music.

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Ten Study Habits for College Students

  1. Search for ways to make the studying fun (i.e. by turning it into a game.  Teach yourself the Montessori way).  I love crosswords.  Unlike word searches, you actually “learn by doing”.  This is great for building vocabulary (most subjects have a lingo of their own, be it computers, engineering, medicine, etc.), because you learn as you create the puzzle, and then learn a second time as you complete it.  It also helps to use the word in a sentence.
  2. Come up with catchy ways to remember things.  I like rhymes and acronyms.  They may seem silly, but no one else will have to know how you remember but you.  It does help to have a creative mind when it comes to studying, as you are essentially becoming your own teacher.  Learning P.E.M.D.A.S. (“Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally”) was extremely helpful to me with solving mathematical equations in high school.
  3. Repetition, repetition, repetition.  It takes me about five times of waiting on a customer before I can remember the name that goes with the face.  It also helps to write something down in a notebook, rather than just typing it into a computer.  Illustrative objects, like charts and graphs, are also helpful.
  4. Write!  Learn how to write creative nonfiction, and write on the subject you’re studying, even if you don’t plan on submitting it anywhere.  You will be able to think critically about the subject, rather than just memorize, which will (ironically) help you remember better.  Apply what you know, and study what you don’t.  I learned more (and retained more of what I learned) about Ayn Rand when writing a paper on her, rather than just reading a bio.
  5. Read!  Not just your textbook, but the “For Dummies” books are helping me pass my Computer Concepts class.  Sometimes just reading about the same subject (with the information presented in a different way) will help that light bulb go off.  We all process things differently.  That’s why good teachers are so important.  I took the same subject in high school with two different teachers, which yielded vastly different results.
  6. Be organized.  Keep notes of what exactly you’re having trouble with.  Do what you can, and what you can’t, make a date with your professor to help you.  The more organized you are, the more time they’ll be able to spend helping you, rather than going through things you already know.  Sometimes, all it takes is the answer to one question, as you can’t build a house without first building the foundation.  Also, seek to connect with some of your classmates.  I found a very cheap tutor through e-mailing my entire class.
  7. YouTube.  It’s a great resource for learning just about anything.  Best of all, it’s free.
  8. Ask questions.  Use social media.  I learned how to “age-grade” my work on a Microsoft Word program through a Facebook friend.  This friend, who teaches how to blog on WordPress, taught me how to calculate what age group I was writing for.
  9. Caffeine.  Sometimes, it just helps you focus more.  I was able to knock out several computer projects in one night with the help of one Starbucks espresso.
  10. When the weather is nice, take advantage of it.  We need nutrition (which means lots of water), sunshine, fresh air, adequate and good quality sleep, etc.  Exercise is a bonus.  There is nothing like the natural high after exercise that makes you feel like you can conquer the world.