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Big March Post #2: A Mama’s Evolution

Some big things are going on at 9 Years Later this month! The first big post was all about our new beds and all the research and self-education we went through to get to our amazing sleeps. With this post, I’m talking about a subject that’s a bit closer to why this blog got started in the first place.

The announcement this time is that we’re expecting our third baby here in the 9YL family! (Which is another reason why I insisted on new beds – I’m not going through another pregnancy on a lumpy mattress!)

This baby is expected to arrive sometime in September and everything is going really well so far. We’ve had two appointments with our midwife and everything is looking good. Baby has a nice heartbeat, I’ve got good protein levels, etc, etc.

As far as the blog goes, I won’t be going back to doing weekly pregnancy posts or lots of pregnancy book reviews like I did last time. While every pregnancy is different and I’m sure there could be a bunch of new things to post about, I’m kind of feeling like I’ve been there and don’t want to repeat myself. I do love having my old posts to look back on now, though. It’s nice to have the record of what was happening – so much better than relying on my memory!

Something that has been big on my mind for this particular post, though, is how much Mr. Handsome and my – and especially my – parenting has changed in the 12 years that we’ve been parents. I say “especially my” parenting not because Mr. Handsome hasn’t evolved in much the same ways as me, but because it is just easier to reflect on my own thoughts and actions than trying to over-analyze him or read his mind. My mind-reading skills have not at all evolved.

As many similarities as there are between Kiddo1 and Baby2, they were also very different babies. So I tend to wonder if my parenting style has changed due to my thoughts on parenting evolving over time or is it just my babies needing different things? I don’t know for sure what the catalyst for all this is. But I do know that some things that worked great with Kiddo1 just didn’t translate to Baby2. One is quick to adjust her practices if the existing ones are not working anymore!

Take scheduling, for example: Kiddo1 was a Babywise baby, and he rocked it. He loved a schedule. He got up every day at 5:30 AM on the dot (and we quickly became morning people because of it). For the most part, we knew what he needed before he was hungry, before he was tired. Honestly, he still thrives on a solid schedule. Give this kid too much free time and you’re asking for trouble (although that’s probably a common pre-teen thing too).

Fast forward 9 years to a Baby2 that doesn’t do schedules. She has a loose routine but it is harder to predict her needs. She is not at all Babywise (in fact I’m sure she would not thrive with that method at all), and she has opened my eyes to why so many people hate Babywise because you really have to have a baby with the right disposition in order for it to be successful. Baby2 is an “Attachment Parenting” baby all the way – she loved co-sleeping, loved nursing on demand, loved the breastmilk SO MUCH (we were going to wean at a year because of my work schedule but that didn’t happen until she was almost two), she loved being worn (although lately she’s not that into it – she’s way too independent), and I found myself loving to do all that stuff too.

I never envisioned myself to be the consistent co-sleeper that I was with Baby2 (she’s been sleeping in her own bed since we weaned). When Kiddo1 was a baby, he was pretty much banned from our bed because I didn’t want him getting in the habit of coming in our room in the middle of the night. Of course he did that anyway – I should have learned that no amount of effort can really stop what most consider to be normal child behaviors. 

Something that I think has influenced my parenting evolution is also just me being more mature now. Kiddo1 was born when I was in a much different place in my mindset. I was 22 and thought I knew everything. I basically followed the parenting model that I saw around me, and it was fairly strict and rigid, which is mostly counter to my personality but I didn’t know there were other choices. I guess my desire for confidence blinded me to wanting to know if there was another way to do things.

Back then I also didn’t understand (or chose to recognize?) the impermanence of babyhood. I wasn’t excited for the dependence of a baby. I was excited to play with a kid but babies scared me. I wanted my baby to be less helpless, less likely to “break,” less dependent on me and Mr. Handsome, more of his own person. I cherished his baby time, don’t get me wrong. I have 1000 photos to prove it, boxes full of mementos, memories that only a senile elderly brain could wash away. I held him, I “spoiled” him, I loved him then every bit as much as I love Baby2 now. But today my mindset is different.

With my second attempt, I understand and appreciate the brief time that is infancy. I know firsthand that dependency, helplessness, “breakiness” (the constant feeling you’ll break your fragile little human), only lasts so long. Shoot, blink and you missed it, right? I mean, when did Kiddo1 stop being a baby?? When did he become so independent? These things don’t happen overnight – they evolve over time until one day you give him a goodbye kiss in the morning and realize you didn’t have to bend down as far… or at all. Or you’re out getting new school shoes and realize his shoes fit on my feet. I have watched my firstborn grow SO FAST over the last 12 years that I now cling to every second of whatever baby time is left with Baby2, and even that is fading fast.

So perhaps it is this awareness of all things impermanent that has made me love attachment parenting traits like co-sleeping, which gives me extra time with my baby, while she’s a cuddly, snuggly baby. Add to that the fact that when she was a baby I worked full time outside the home (read: no time with my baby during the waking hours!) and co-sleeping/baby-wearing/extended breastfeeding/EXTRA SNUGGLE TIME becomes even more appealing. Now I work from home, thank goodness, so I have a feeling things will be a little more relaxed with this third baby.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: every baby is different. Every family is different! And, apparently, every mama is different with every baby! We adjust, we evolve with every child, every experience, every mistake, every success. We become the mothers, the parents, the families, that we need to be.

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