10 Things I Learned in 2018
2018 was a good year for us, and in the spirit of reflection, I thought I'd share some of the things I learned this year. (Here's last year's.)
1. Big love, not sneaky love. This was a big one for me this year. After Amelia was born, I was very careful to not rock the sibling jealousy boat by making sure to be sneaky about my displays of affection with her. Don't get me wrong, the child still received tons of love and affection, but I was cautious about it when her not-even-two-year-old older sister was around.
This time around, it has been an all-out lovefest with little Georgie. That child receives soooooo much affection from all of us at all times, and I've found it has trickled down to his big sisters, who then internalize it and show him the exact same kind of big affection. We're all better for it, no sneaking necessary.
Also along the lines of George, I've learned:
2. Boys really are different than girls. When I found out I was expecting a little boy, I was resistant to the idea that he would be much different than my girls. We've always been careful to raise our girls with lots of gender-neutral toys, activities, etc. so I figured a boy would be the same as a girl. Wrong!
I could tell the difference so early on. While my girls were always fairly delicate, clean, and well-developed with their fine motor skills, this child's primary objective is to take an object and bash it down on something, repeatedly. He is loud, he is messy, and he is unapologetic about it. It's kind of amazing to me.
I also learned that I go wild over little boys' clothes. I always thought little girls' clothes were sweet, but shortalls, longalls, little boy bubbles? I am powerless over them.
3. Waterbirth really is all that it’s cracked up to be. I had the best, most empowering birth with George. It was quick, it was manageable, and there's nothing quite like catching your own baby. I would never have believed you if you had told me I would look back at childbirth and think, "You know, that wasn't too bad!" Grateful to have had the best midwives and a hospital that supports this practice.
4. Sacrificing for the common good. I'm finding that with each child, it's more necessary to sacrifice someone's personal comfort/needs for the common good of the family. With one child it was so very possible to create ideal circumstances for naps, schedules, etc. at all times.
We certainly are still a very routine-based household, but sometimes your needs are superseded by someone else's or you have to solve your own problem because it can't be addressed by a parent right that second. I'm going to tell myself it will make them more independent, considerate and flexible people, but of course I battle guilt from it too.
5. Fewer, nicer things. This has mostly always been my mentality, but I've been extra mindful of it this year. Our storage is limited in our house, and I'd rather not have something than have something that's going to take up space and not get used, or only last a short while and have to be replaced. It also is self-limiting to focus on quality goods, since they usually come with a higher price tag.
I've also become more mindful of where our money is going, and I'd rather support businesses that produce quality goods, especially small and/or local businesses, and if that means paying a little more, I'm happy to do so.
6. If you want something, you have to ask for it. Most people are not mind readers. Ask! The worst that can happen is a rejection. This can be something as little as asking for help or advice, or something as big as asking for a job.
7. I'll sleep when I’m dead. Sleep is just not happening this time around. The more children, the higher chance that I won't get a good night's sleep for one reason or another.
One of the biggest obstacles to sleep now is my complete inability to get to bed at a reasonable hour. Even though our kids go to bed super early (6:00/6:15 for the girls, 6:30/6:45 for the baby), I am still majorly adjusting to having no downtime during the day now that Mimi doesn't nap anymore, and I find I need so much time to wind down once they're all in bed.
Although I'm sure if I actually got myself in bed at 7pm and closed my eyes I'd be asleep within seconds, psychically I need time to feel like a human. I think I told Nick recently that "my humanness needs to come out at night."
8. It's possible to volunteer with young kids. Volunteering had always been a big part of my life before having kids, and I always thought I'd have to put it on pause while I raise my family and then go back to it once my kids are older.
If you followed our Project Night Night project, you know we collected comfort supplies for homeless children this Christmas season, and I was grateful for the opportunity to start to instill altruism in my children while they're young. I will be on the lookout for similar flexible, kid-friendly arrangements in the future--Grow a Row has my interest.
9. I am the household manager. I have accepted this role since leaving my job to stay home with Eloise 5+ years ago, but have still mostly deferred to Nick before making decisions--major and minor. His job has taken him away from home more than ever this year, and it has forced me to make some gametime decisions without him.
Even though I don't earn a paycheck, I am in the driver's seat when it comes to the running of the household, and this has given me a sense of agency I haven't previously felt in this stay-at-home phase of life.
And in the case that I make a decision he doesn't agree with, it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission :)
10. Body positivity starts with me. My midsection has never been close to the same since becoming a mother, and I'm not sure it ever will be. I've tried to conceal it through the years, but have grown tired of feeling frumpy and like I can only ever wear loose-fitting tunics, so this year I just embraced my little bump. It might be here to stay, and if that's the price I pay for having brought three humans into this world, I am okay with it.
And the more I learned to accept and embrace it, the more grateful I have become that I am strong, healthy, and capable of doing all that I do in a day. I am a mother of children, not a teenager, so here is my motherly body!
I want to model for my children, especially my girls, a positive body image that focuses on gratitude for what our bodies are capable of, and that begins with me.
What have you learned this year?
Wishing you health and all good things in the new year!