I Used To Be Me (part 11)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I first came across Amy Webb and her blog The Thoughtful Parent while doing research on mom/parenting blogs. That Amy had a PhD in Human Development and Family Sciences was obviously impressive. That she didn’t have “I’m DOCTOR Amy. Just call me DOCTOR, because I’m a DOCTOR.” written all over her blog was refreshing. I also liked that she was bringing some scientific principles to parenthood, which is at times the most unscientific, toss-out-the-rule-book thing known to (wo)man.

Life before baby …
My husband and I had the typical “no-child” lifestyle. We ate out quite a bit, went to happy hour with friends and saw movies almost every weekend. We wonder now what we did with all our free time!

My ideas about motherhood …
I always wanted to be a mother. I was one of those little girls who loved playing with dolls and with real babies. I had great training from my mom and grandmother for being a stay-at-home mom since they were both pretty traditional homemakers.

When I was in my early 20s I thought I was ready for marriage and motherhood, but looking back now, I see it came along at the right time. Being a little older has helped me be a more confident and calm mother.

I had some pretty romantic ideas of how motherhood would be, too. I pictured sitting and rocking my baby calmly while he quietly drifted off to sleep. Our society has an idealized view of babies and motherhood, and I bought into that, to a certain degree.

Then came Evan …
Like everyone, my husband and I had that “honeymoon” period in the hospital where the baby is still sleeping a lot. We thought, “This isn’t so hard.” Then we took him home. Ha!

I felt pretty unprepared, even though I had read a ton of books about child care, breastfeeding, etc. Life was a little chaotic at first. I felt like I barely had time to eat or go to the bathroom before the baby needed me again.

I guess that was the biggest change … I used to have so much time to myself, then here was this little person constantly needing me.

The most challenging part of motherhood …
A few months ago, I would have said it was the physical aspect: the sleep deprivation and the hormone fluctuations. I really had no idea how much those two things would affect my overall well-being and state of mind in those first months.

Now that my son has slept through the night for several months, I’d say the most challenging part is not having much time to myself. Being a stay-at-home mom with a 13-month-old, I don’t get many opportunities to spend time by myself reading, watching TV or just thinking.

Having this PhD has made parenting easier …
While completing my degree [two years ago] I realized how little of the great child development and parenting research we learned is available to the typical parent. Much of the research is gathering dust in academic journals somewhere. That motivated me to start The Thoughtful Parent, in an effort to “translate” academic research into an easy to read, parent-friendly format.

In some ways that education makes it easier for me to sort through the “good” parenting advice/books/articles from the “bad.” There is so much information out there, plus, of course, you have friends and family giving you their opinions.

First-hand advice is helpful, but having this background has taught me to look beyond just anecdotal advice and seek out research-based parenting information.

But in other ways … having the PhD hasn’t made a big difference! No matter how many books you read, much of parenting is just on-the-job training.

Best piece of advice I ever heard …
It’s actually a quote about parenthood I read that really stuck with me: “The days are long, but the years are short.” Although my son is just over a year old, I can already see it. Thinking back to how much he’s changed just over this first year is amazing. Time really has flown by. When I’m having a hard day, I really try to focus on this idea and try to remember the little details of what Evan is doing and learning.

If we could jump into a DeLorean and race back in time …
I would probably tell myself, “It really does get easier.” Other, more experienced, mom friends kept telling me this, but at week 6, I had a hard time believing it!

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