2020 has been a year of unknowns, of finding “new normals,” for all of us. For those of us entering parenthood in 2020, adjusting to a new normal may seem like too much to handle along with adjusting to life as a new mom. Looking back, I can see the challenges that we’ve had to face this year as parents, and now that the year is ending I can finally see the rewards.
But they do say hindsight is 20/20 (no pun intended) and this year isn’t any different. So here are five lessons becoming a parent in a pandemic taught me:
#5) Enjoy the little things
The first lesson that 2020 taught me about becoming a parent was to enjoy the little things. After all, it’s the little things that make our world go round. Say, for example, toilet paper. Who would have thought that toilet paper would be such a hot commodity in 2020? Not me! So imagine my surprise being seven months pregnant and hearing from my husband that the toilet paper AISLE was empty. No one needs toilet paper more than a very pregnant lady – if you know, you know!
#4) Don’t sweat the small stuff
While we’re talking about the little things, let’s just remember not to sweat the small stuff. I’m talking dirty dishes in the sink or the second load of laundry small stuff. Didn’t get all you had planned done for the day? It’s okay! Just because you’re spending more time at home doesn’t mean the house has to be spotless. (In my case, it means the total opposite!) When you’ve done all you can do, and it’s time to sit back and enjoy the things that truly matter, then don’t let the small stuff preoccupy your mind. Throw that mom-guilt out the window and enjoy your well-earned time with the family (or some well-earned me-time, if that’s what you need!)
#3) Hold healthy boundaries
Becoming a parent can be a hair-raising transition in the best of times. Becoming a parent in a pandemic can be downright terrifying – because these are unprecedented times. This is true for first-time mamas and veteran moms all the same. We have “a new normal” now and it’s changing every day. Ever-evolving best practices for our health and safety seem strange and unusual; social distancing has many of us feeling isolated and down. But at the end of the day, we have to make the best decision for the well-being of our family; sometimes that means creating boundaries. So, if you find yourself in a position needing to say “no” to an outing or gathering, that’s okay. Hold healthy boundaries and do it unapologetically because you’re doing your best for your family and what’s right for you.
#2) Stop saving the best for last
I’m sure this is a lesson learned by all parents, but I especially learned it the hard way by becoming a parent during a pandemic. Mamas, I can’t stress this enough: please, stop saving the best for last! I wanted to wait till the last minute to have my baby shower when my pregnant belly would be bigger and rounder for all my guests to see. Well, I waited so long to schedule my shower that my only guest to RSVP was Ms. Quarantina herself. In the hospital after delivery, I waited to eat my first meal. That was my first parenting fail. Quarantine protocols and limited staff meant that was my only meal.. till breakfast the next day. These days I like to start dinner with dessert and I always have the first bite!
#1) Stop and smell the babies
This is a lesson that my husband taught me, and I wish I would have caught on sooner. From the moment we found out we were expecting, he would ask me to stop for a moment and breathe. Breathe and take it all in; life may be crazy right now but it’s beautiful. He was right, but I didn’t see it then. It didn’t hit me until after our son was born. The moment my husband first held the baby he exclaimed, “He smells like roses!” He was right; it was the world’s sweetest scent and I missed it. Over the next few days, my husband shared more new and exciting news about our little one: he has dimples, his eyes are blue, there’s a birthmark here and there. I was delighted with each new discovery but I also was left wondering why I didn’t notice these things first. The simple answer is because I hadn’t learned to slow down, stop, and smell the babies as he had.
There you go. It’s been a whirlwind of a year, but it’s taught me some pretty valuable lessons. So, if you’re looking for me in 2021 I’ll be enjoying the little things with my baby, who occasionally still smells like roses.