It’s easy to think that the first year of parenting is to become the SAHM or working mom you want to be.
As Julia’s first birthday approaches I’ve decided that must be what the second year is for, or possibly the third.
The first year is to bring the baby into the world in a warm, safe, loving way and that takes time. When baby is going thru purple hours for days or weeks, parenting success is not necessarily soothing the baby, but just holding her. Keeping her clean, fed, dry, snuggled.
It’s not that baby snuggles are precious and the dishes can wait. It’s that the dishes should wait. The laundry must be done later.
I’ve spent this year wanting to be the rockstar mom my mother and grandmother were. But the truth is when I remember my mom “doing it all” with grace, it was at an age where I was old enough to remember. So over one or two. And the same goes for my mom’s memories of her mother being a superhero.
The first year isn’t hard. It is focused. It is the most special time and my only regret (and it’s very mild) is worrying about not doing more than two things at once.
I got a lot accomplished in the first year. I did really well. The house was generally tidy. The cat had food most days. My husband came home to a cheery wife and child.
But there’s dust on the floorboards. The refrigerator was cleaned over a year ago. And my husband asked me this morning if we still had a mop, indicating it wasn’t super obvious by looking at the state of our floor.
And it’s not that “that’s okay”. It is stupendous. It means I was doing other things, like holding a sleeping baby in the early months, and later videoing her pulling out every kitchen accessory we have from the cabinets and examining them one by one.
A messy house really does equal a happier baby. And not because mothers should “give themselves a break” or “enjoy every minute”. No. The house should be imperfect because we are busy and important and someone who can bill at the new motherhood rate should not spend her time magic erasing scuff marks in the hallway. That’s what the second year is for, or maybe the third.