Everything new comes with a learning curve. But having your first baby feels more like navigating an entire mountain range. No matter how many books you read or how many friends you have with kids, there is always something new to learn when it comes to your own. I knew, of course, that I would learn a lot about parenthood and babies. But the lessons I learned in my daughter’s first year surpassed anything I could have imagined.
10 Lessons Learned in Baby’s First Year
1. I learned to be patient.
“Patience is a virtue” is something we are told from a young age. But I truly don’t think I grasped its meaning until I had my first baby. Your child will test all of your limits daily. I’ve learned to keep calm and handle situations more easily through those tests. In addition to practicing patience in everyday life, I learned to be patient with my daughter’s milestones. After a full year of her growing and changing, I’ve learned that she will do things on her own time, and my pushing milestones to happen faster won’t make a difference.
2. I learned that every kid is different.
Comparison is an evil side effect of parenthood. It’s hard not to look at other kids in a similar age group and not compare them to your own. I spent so much time worrying about my child’s development during the first few months. I’d see other babies her age sitting up or pointing and fretting over the fact that she had yet to master that skill. A year later, as you run around me in circles and babble my ear off, I know kids do things at their own pace. While some kids may learn to walk before their first birthday, some may still prefer to crawl well into their second year. The comparison may always be in my mind, but in my baby’s first year, I’ve learned that comparing doesn’t do any good.
3. I learned to accept and even ask for help.
Before I had my daughter, I was keen on being independent. Even during my pregnancy, I rarely asked for so much as a spot on the couch when others were sitting down. However, after a year of being a mother, I’ve learned how important help is to your well-being. The first time I had my mom watch my daughter, I was overcome with guilt and rushed home. But after a while, it became much easier to leave her. I learned that my loved ones want to care for me and help me out, and when they do, the effect it has on me is massive. I’ve been able to continue my career and focus on myself while remaining an involved parent with the help of my family.
4. I learned the importance of doing nothing.
You hear about how kid life is hectic and crazy. But people don’t tell you that a lot of time spent during parenthood is simply doing nothing. Before I had kids, I was keen on planning out every second of my week. In the past year, I’ve learned that having no plans for an entire weekend is okay. Spending the day playing on your living room floor and cuddling on the couch is okay. There will come a time when life is hectic, and weekends are spent lugging your kids from activity to activity. In my baby’s first year, I have truly learned to appreciate the slow moments and not take “boring” days for granted.
5. I learned how to laugh things off.
That first poop explosion may send you into a tailspin. After the tenth one, you may find yourself laughing at the situation. In the first year, I found myself laughing way more, especially at situations that may have caused a lot of stress in the beginning. When my daughter learned how to take off her diaper and beamed at me with pride after she did so, we laughed together because it was truly hilarious. My baby’s first year taught me not to take myself or these little situations so seriously.
6. I learned to trust my gut.
You can Google anything and find a multitude of different responses. In the past year, I’ve learned my gut is the best place to find the right answer. When my daughter hurts herself or something seems off, I’ve learned to trust myself to make the right move. When my daughter got her first cold, I was Googling every little symptom. A year later, it’s unlikely a cold would set off alarm bells in my head. I’ve learned what to look for and what is dangerous and, in turn, to trust myself better.
7. I learned how to be thankful for what I have.
So many of us spend our lives wishing for things we don’t have. I was guilty of this as well. But after a year of having a healthy, thriving little girl, I’ve learned how important it is to appreciate the things we do have. Of course, life is never going to be perfect. But having a child makes it seem possible, even on the most challenging days.
8. I learned how strong I am, emotionally and physically.
Giving birth taught me how physically strong I am. Postpartum taught me how emotionally strong I am. And motherhood taught me how I would continue to be strong in both sectors throughout my motherhood journey and beyond. Being a parent not only takes a toll on your physical well-being (carrying a 20-pound child up and down the stairs, multiple times a day is sure to do a number on your joints), but it can also wreck you emotionally. But, in my baby’s first year, I’ve learned that I can truly overcome anything. Knowing that I have to be strong for my child has made me a stronger person overall.
9. I learned that I don’t have to be perfect.
Perfection is something all mothers strive for. Before we have our first babies, we try to create the perfect nursery, vow only to serve organic meals, and have the best intentions to do everything the “right” way. After a year of motherhood, that drive has lessened, if not disappeared. I learned that it’s okay if your room doesn’t always look perfect, you eat fast food, or your hair is messy. None of that will affect who you are as a person, and with every mistake, we have learned how to make things better.
10. In my baby’s first year, I learned that I am perfect for my baby even when I’m not perfect.
Even after the most challenging days, I still watch my daughter sleep and feel a deep-rooted fondness and affection for her. No matter what happened the day before, she always wakes up with a huge smile, as happy as ever to see me. Knowing that no matter what happens throughout the day, what mistakes are made, how often a voice is raised, or a tantrum occurs, I am still the perfect mother for my child—and always will be.