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 when it came to parenthood and babies. But the lessons I learned in my daughter’s first year surpass 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 the meaning behind it until I had my first baby. Your child will test all of your limits daily. Through those tests, I’ve learned to keep calm and handle situations with more ease. In addition to practicing patience in everyday life, I learned to be patient with my daughter’s milestones too. After a full year of her growing and changing, I’ve learned that she will do things on her own time, and me 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. During the first few months, I spent so much time worrying about my child’s development. I’d see other babies her age sitting up or pointing and fret 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 that kids do things at their own pace. While some kids may walk before their first birthday, some may still prefer to crawl well into their second year. Comparison may always be in the back of my mind, but in my baby’s first year, I’ve learned that it doesn’t do any good to compare.
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. 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 kid life being hectic and crazy. But what people don’t tell you is 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 weeks. In the past year, I’ve learned that it’s okay to have no plans for an entire weekend. It’s okay to spend the day playing on the floor of your living room and cuddling on the couch. 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 just 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. Now, when my daughter learned how to take off her diaper and beamed at me with pride after she did so, we both laughed together because, truly, it was hilarious. My baby’s first year taught me not to take myself, or these little situations, so seriously.
6. I learned to really trust my own 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 how to trust myself with making 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, have learned 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. Life is never going to be perfect. But having a child makes it seem like it’s possible, even on the hardest of 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. 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 become 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 to only 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 totally disappeared. I learned that it’s okay if your room doesn’t always look perfect, or you eat fast food, or your hair is a mess. None of that will affect who you are as a person, and with every mistake, we have both learned from each other how to make things better.
10. In my baby’s first year I learned that, even when I’m not perfect, I am perfect for my baby.
Even after the hardest 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 on her face, as happy as ever to see me. Knowing that no matter what happens throughout the day, what mistakes are made, how many times a voice is raised, or a tantrum occurs, I am still the perfect mother for my child—and always will be.