As parents, we are our babies’ first teachers, that’s a huge responsibility to hold, but also a great opportunity to shape someone’s life and to value our input so much, as for our babies, we are their everything. It is true we teach babies with our example, with our care and love, but it is also true that they teach us important life lessons.
These are a few of my reflections after being a mum for nearly one year and a half, I know I am still a newbie in this, but in this short amount of time I feel amazed by the growth one can reach when embracing a parenting role.
- Being present is a gift
With technology and this hectic world, our minds are full of to-do-lists, we are often jumping from one activity to the next, multi-tasking as the main goal. Our society seems to value quantity over quality. How much of our day are we truly aware of what we are doing? No wonder why mindfulness is such a needed practice these days.
With Oliver’s arrival, so much of my busy world changed, so many ‘tasks’ needed to be left unfinished, as simply my hands were too full looking after a little person, so dependent at first, and now so mobile and curious, still needing my attention and guidance. This adjustment is tricky to grasp, especially if you are a perfectionist like me and want to achieve so much in all aspects of your life…
I am grateful though, that he slows me down, that he allows me to see the extraordinary in the ordinary and little things in life we often take for granted. That being fully present for him is a gift I give to myself and my loved ones to enjoy life.
- Simple is simply the best
I tend to complicate things, and my husband will be the first to confirm this, but with lack of sleep and loads of energy drained looking after someone else, I just became much more practical and solution focused. You can’t plan too much; babies teach you to be flexible in the whole extent of the word! And there we are worrying if things don’t go according to plan, babies, in the other hand, couldn’t care less if their top (and/or yours) got mucky with a bit of porridge or if they have just a cardboard box to play with. Being simple is simply ok in the eyes of babies, and that suits me well now!
- Take baby steps
This learning point relates to the first one, highlighting the fact that we are often in do-do-do mode. And then baby arrives… and all your timeframes are stretched (or non-existent!). My baby has taught me that is ok not to get it all right the first time around, that it is ok to gradually learn how to parent him. Baby’s first steps are, after all, a huge milestone, I take my ‘small’ wins as huge achievements too and that satisfaction is so needed when you are exhausted and always trying your best.
- Mess is part of the ride
I have worked in early years’ education for a few years now, so I know the importance of learning through the senses for babies and loved a bit of messy play! But the mess I mean here is different, it is not only chaos in the house when a basket full of clothes needs washing (again!) and you can’t find the keys or the latest bill you know is overdue to be paid… I also refer to the mess of emotions!! to the mess in your mind as you forget what you did yesterday and what you are meant to do in the next few days. The responsibility of caring for a baby is so big that suddenly other responsibilities can feel so out of control! My baby has taught me to identify what really (really) needs doing and what can wait and nobody (nobody really) will die. Mess is part of the ride I have come to understand, so I better be more gentle with myself!
- Love myself
I don’t think I value my existence so much as I do now… excuse me if this sounds arrogant, let me explain. With this, I mean how my baby has taught me how essential I am in his life. I remember when I had mastitis and I worried I wouldn’t be able to feed him anymore, I tried loads of milk formulas and he would spit all of them out. I felt so crucial for his survival, I knew there will be a solution, more so in this advanced modern medical world, but that realisation of being his source of food was in a way, a revelation, a way of being amazed of what the human body can do. Luckily all turned out to be ok in the end, now he wouldn’t starve as he eats so much spaghetti and cheese! I am less important for his nutrition, but I feel much more important for his nurturing, his continuous growth as a person, not in size but in soul. So, he has taught me to value and love myself in ways I didn’t before, to see qualities that I didn’t realise I had.
I was reading a book by a neuropsychologist called Alvaro Bilbao, and he was suggesting that instead of asking our children as soon as we fetch them from school the typical question of ‘how was your day?’, we instead try to start the dialogue by telling them something about our day, they will then learn to have a real conversation, to be interested in who you are too, and to share more of who they are. I hope I remember this when I fetch Oliver from school.
I think that my biggest learning so far, from the early days when I held him in my arms… is that this journey is all about getting to know each other, to establish a reciprocal relationship, to teach and learn along the way, both of us.
For Sandra’s Baby Massage Classes for Parents in South East London: www.kin2skin.com or Sandra’s Blossom and Berry Spanish website page for Baby Massage Instructors is www.blossomandberry.com/spanish Sandra’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/kin2skin/ or https://www.facebook.com/blossomandberrymasajeinfantilyyoga/