Let’s get Personal. Part 4: The New Normal
It’s amazing how quickly you forget the hard stuff once your “new normal” settles in. I had to really sit and reflect to remember the challenges we faced in the early days of parenthood… and the many moments of, “I can’t wait until we get passed this phase, then it’ll get easier.” We often referenced one of my favorite songs by Darius Rucker, and said to each other during the hard times, “It won’t be like this for long…” If you haven’t heard this song, and you’re a relatively new parent – listen to it… but grab a few tissues first because it will get you right in the feels.
We started working on a night time routine when she was 7 weeks old. We struggled through the 8 week regression and then at 9 weeks it started to get a little easier… We did what we like to call “The pacifier dance” some nights for 10 minutes, and some nights for 90 minutes… then she just stopped taking the pacifier all together. Every night isn’t perfect. Teething tends to throw a wrench in things every few days, but she bounces back so easily. We have gotten her bed time routine down to an art. She gets a bath, a story or two, then we turn on her sound machine, zip her up in her sleep sack, kiss her all over and say goodnight… then we shut off the lights and walk out… and without so much as a peep, she settles herself right to sleep. We started this so early that it never felt like we were really “sleep training” – we never let her really cry. Sometimes we’d let her fuss for a max of 5 to 10 minutes but if she ever REALLY cried, we knew something was wrong (teething) and soothed her immediately. It was a journey getting her to put herself to sleep, and her nap times aren’t quite as easy – but her bed time is perfect 99% of the time and she’s down before 7pm every night.
The best part of this is that I didn’t do any of it alone. We did, and still do, all of this as a team. Randy decided early on that he would go into work earlier so that he could be home with us in the evenings. I sincerely commend his dedication to our family because he gets up at 4:15 every morning and is out of the house before 5am so that he can be home by 4pm, take a walk with us, or just play with Brynlee, then do her entire bedtime routine with me. Becoming parents has brought us closer than ever. When I asked him one time how he felt after experiencing her birth, and how he felt it affected his thinking of me and our relationship he said, “I feel closer to you than ever.”
As much as becoming parents takes a lot of attention away from each other in order to focus on regulating your lives after such a huge disruption to your norm, doing all of these things side by side has kept us connected to each other. Navigating the early days with support for each other, and helping one another in difficult moments, i.e. seeing that one of us is frustrated while trying to handle the fussy hours, and stepping in to give that person a break, has given us each a whole new level of love and respect for the other. I thought I was the most in love that I could ever be on my wedding day… but two and a half years later, 6 months into being parents, I can honestly say I have never loved that man more. Not only do I adore watching him be a father and love on our baby, but his love, support and partnership toward me is more intense and beautiful than it has ever been. Having Brynlee has strengthened our marriage in ways I never imagined.
Going back to work has been wonderful. Randy made that easy too. Because he has always been such a part of her routine, going to photograph my first wedding back was stress free (except for the fact that I had driven all the way to Palos Verdes with out important pieces to my pump…Whoops!) For a few weeks I tried to juggle office work and mom-life but it proved to be too difficult and guilt inducing. I felt guilty if I needed to put her in a jumper so I could answer some emails, I felt guilty that I couldn’t fully focus on my work OR on her… I felt like I was not giving my work or my daughter my all. Finally I hired a sitter for two days per week so that I can really focus on work. I am totally crazy about my sitter. She is a dream. She loves Brynlee, and I get the best of both worlds… I’m here with them but I can fully focus on my work and know that Brynlee is getting the attention she needs from our sitter, she’s going on walks, being put down for her naps, and still gets fed by me. The other two days per week I have an assistant answering my emails. This may or may not prove to be “enough” but for now it’s working and everything feels GOOD!
My Mom has always said that becoming a Mom is the best thing she’s ever done. To this day she says that if she didn’t have her kids, her life would feel empty. Parenting isn’t for everyone!! I truly believe that. It is ok if you’re not feeling called to be a parent, or have never had a desire to be one. I was kind of stuck in the middle… I felt like I probably wanted to be a Mom, but wasn’t 100% sure… I was on the fence. And then I wasn’t on the fence, I was on the rollercoaster of pregnancy still unsure if motherhood was for me… I guess I clearly leaned more toward motherhood than away from it, because I went for it. When I think back about those days of uncertainty prior to getting pregnant I laugh. I had no idea how sweet motherhood would be. I had no idea how insanely precious my days would be as a Mom… how perfect it would all feel… if I knew then, what I know now… I would have jumped into the idea of motherhood with gusto. If I could give my former self a message in a moment of doubt about being a mother, I’d look her right in the eyes with the most pure smile, heart beaming and tears of joy and say “DO IT!!!!!!!!!! It is THE. best. thing. ever.”
I love my life more than I have ever loved it before. I love being a wife and a Mom AND a business owner 🙂 …I just wish I could slow it all down a bit so it didn’t all go by so quickly.
Part of being a Mom for me definitely includes lots of adorable photo shoots as you can tell. God knew what he was doing when he gave me a very happy and photogenic child! I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams to be her Mama. It’s my greatest and most treasured job in life.
Next week I’ll get back to talking about my clients and my work…. 🙂