The Best Thing Happened to You
Not the conventional stories and advice you hear about motherhood
My baby is turning 15 months old. This past 15 months have been probably the most remarkable of my life so far. There were so many ups and downs, so much learning and growth, and of course unprecedented joy. Naturally, I would turn to my journal to write down the bits and pieces of new discoveries, emotions and feelings. However, I am often unable to remember doing so. And some thoughts just flew by.
Using this space, I would like to record a few little things (or maybe big things) that made me appreciate motherhood, the experience that I would never trade anything for — truly the best thing that has ever happened. This is a non-exhaustive list of things I have learned or things have transformed me during the first 14 months of being a mom. I will also update the list on a spontaneous basis.
- Baby sign languages are so adorable. Every time my baby signing “more”, “please” melts my heart. It’s amazing how they try to find ways to communicate without verbal expressions. It also makes you cannot resistance of offering him more and more treats — that’s the only negative effect.
- You will experience overwhelming love. Even before my baby was born, we were flooded by advice, gifts and wishes from people around including those we barely knew. Love also eased the transformation of my role to a mom. Also your heart becomes much bigger, for example you will never complain how clingy the kid is, or you just forgot how exactly you felt when postpartum lows hit.
- My baby inspires me everyday. He’s fearless, curious and quick to learn regardless of the risk that may be involved. I wish he can carry these qualities as he grows up through his life. And I want to be a good example that he will want to emulate — the thought prompt me to make a change. When he turned 1, I gave some rethinking on my career and decided to be proactive in pursuit of my goal, left a very comfortable work environment and return to the corporate world.
- A good daycare makes life so much easier. By “good” I mean many things —management and teachers who care, routine and frequent communication with parents, and happy kids around. We visited many daycares and decided to choose the one where kids looked happiest. The best benefit of daycare is the social aspects. I enjoy seeing my baby interacting with others — he sometimes gives surprise hugs to his friends and helps the kids younger than him.
- I don’t see my husband the same way I did any more. My husband and I are an army together. Seriously, the active, growing and adventurous boy needs undivided attention. We have to work as a team — no matter one of us is doing laundry, cooking or using the bathroom, the other must be watching and playing with the boy. And all these troubles we’ve been through have made us stronger. We have become a better couple and have a better understanding of marriage, family and love.
- Chinese vs. American parenting style. I found the cultural difference in Chinese and American families (where me and my husband grew up respectively) fascinating. Like anything else in life, the mingle brings diverse perspectives to our life. There are some things Chinese parents value, such as grit, academic competence and result-driven course of actions. Others Americans are known for, such as openness, growth mindset and chasing your dream, etc. My husband and I get the chance to see things through different lenses, select or weed out the things that we agree or not to incorporate in our parenting philosophy. And we wish the baby will embrace multicultural, diversity, equality and be able to empathize and understand the uniqueness of each individual.
- Baby’s smile and laugh are the cutest. But sometimes his cry is cute, too. (Saying this from a mom’s loving heart.) He uses cry to express his frustration or throw fits. Sometimes I secretly enjoy watching his sudden emotion switch.
- Finally I can resonate with the books, movies, TV shows that talks about parenthood. They often bring me to tears for no specific reason. Kids reside in the softest part in your heart. And you are only able to discover the broad spectrum of sentiments when you experience it yourself. It’s like you’ve discover another aspect of life. What an amazing feeling!
- Motherhood makes me realize the concept of TIME. The growth of my baby is incredible. It has happened so fast that sometimes make me want to slow down. At the same time, it also made me more conscious of the use of my time: I want to seize every minute when I’m with my baby. I want to manage my time more efficiently and make sure it’s well spent. I want to make a difference in the things I do as opposed to just do it. I have started to pick up my reading routine — a habit I lost over the years. I use free time to work out for better health and energy, although most of my exercises are seven-minute workouts. I am more eager to learn more about life and other people — and hope I will get some wisdom to be integrated into my parenting and the legacy for my baby.
- Babies have their own personal traits. There are things that you can not change or control, and the only thing you can do is to influence, (try to) appreciate and respect. That’s probably the lesson you have learned after a few bad relationships or other kinds of hardship. But really, it applies to parent-child relationship too. My one-year-old is an independent explorer. He loves leading his own way, enjoys reading by himself (gets very impatient when I read. We usually can hardly get through few pages.), picky at eating and dances with music. None of these things are nurtured by either my husband or me. This helps me relax and free me from unnecessary helicopter parenting anxiety: He will find his own way. And I will always be there.
- First words are “tutu” (for cars) and “uh-oh”. Things don’t always go your way. When we thought he almost learned “daddy” by greeting my husband with “dada” in the morning, we also realized he was actually calling other guys in the restaurant the same.
- I really, really, love being a mom. And I’m grateful for this little miracle every minute. Parenthood is an incredible gift.