When my teacher-friend asked me to babysit her infant at the start of the school year, I jumped on the chance. Please. I am an old pro. My children are 18-, 12-, and 11- years-old. Within the first week of having him, I realized I didn’t know much. This baby, someone else’s child, has changed my life.
Life lessons from a six-month-old:
Don’t wish infanthood [childhood] away.
*E’s mom has mentioned it several times. I vaguely remember it myself. All the late-night feedings, unpredictability, and most of all, the sheer amount of packing that is required to transport an infant anywhere is overwhelming. When you’re exhausted you think, “Goodness, I can’t wait until s/he can ____.”
I have literally watched E go from doing things he couldn’t do the day before to doing them like a champ. Like sit up unassisted. He is now starting to crawl. It is amazing to watch. I barely remember my own children reaching these milestones.
Now that my own children are becoming increasingly more self-sufficient, I don’t want to miss anything. I won’t say that I haven’t wished time would speed up when one of the tweens is having an attitude, but I am doing my best to enjoy the last few years of childhood we have left.
Keep a journal.
Take pictures and videos. Write in a spiral notebook. Develop a website. Whatever you can get your hands on, write down/document the things the baby has done that day. I had good intentions with each of my children, with most of the documentation starting with my oldest. I thought I would remember everything.
I started writing a blog when my boys were preschool-aged. While I now have those precious memories, a lot of things that happened prior to that are gone. I have probably taken more pictures of E in the last two months than of own children in the last year.
None of my children want to be written about online anymore, so it’s all private now, but I still do it, and grab a snapshot when I can. Clearly, relying on my memory is not an option.
Enjoy each day. Even the crappy ones.
Like most Type-A personalities, I give myself a to-do list every day. It is typically more than I can ever accomplish, but I wake up optimistic. However, E has taught me that while some things can’t be ignored – we need clean clothes, hot food, and clean dishes — other things can wait. The dusting, the ironing, or painting the laundry room can wait. Why not take an hour to giggle over the dogs? Or play with a ball?
Or make silly faces with each other?
I always thought it was important to get the work done and then play. And while my OCD tendencies keep me itching at times, I am getting better at ignoring it for the greater good. For example, this past Saturday, I had planned a full day of writing and editing. But my twelve-year-old read in the local paper that there was a Civil War battle reenactment nearby. As much as I needed to get some work done, I took them to the reenactment.
The work was waiting on me when we returned home. No one was hurt or inconvenienced. (That I am currently aware.)
“Nap when the baby naps.”
Everyone has heard this adage. Just do it. A power nap never hurt anyone. Whether there are babies in the house or not.
There are many more little life lessons that E has shown me every day that I have him. He will forever hold a special place in my heart, not only because he is absolutely adorable, but because he showed me how precious life is.
*Name withheld for personal reasons.
Heather spends her days (and many late nights) trying to meet the demands of life as a wife, mother, and writer. She blogs about nothing in particular at Cool and Hip, I am Not and is occasionally spotted on Twitter @coolandhip.