Seven Lessons I Learned this Year

As part of the October Blogging Challenge by Girl Meets Life , the 7th was all about seven lessons I’ve learned this year. It took me several days to finish this, because it required a lot of thought!

This is an amazing year to talk about lessons as there has been so much change in my world this year! I gave birth to my darling Cupcake in March and started my year-long maternity leave from teaching. This has been a major shift in our household as I go from full-time working lady, so narrowing it down to just seven lessons may be difficult, but here we go:

1. Just because you change your mind, it does not mean you were wrong the first time.

I never knew whether I would want to become a stay at home mom or not. I worked extremely hard to become a teacher. Since essentially kindergarten, I knew I was destined to become a teacher. Most of my school choices were centered on this goal. I started assisting at a home daycare center in sixth grade. I petitioned for an independent study in high school to create a class that did not exist, so that I could further my understanding of child development and relevant theories. In college, I volunteered in the elementary school that I knew I wanted to start my career in. Every moment has been centered around this goal.

When I found out I was pregnant and due in March, I knew that I would be all set! My maternity leave would take me until the end of the year and then I would have the whole summer with my new bundle of joy. But, the thought of leaving my future 5 month old made my heart break. After a lot of discussion and prayer, my hubby and I decided it was important for me to take the next year for child leave to be with Cupcake. I would be stepping out of the classroom I had worked so hard to get into. And I couldn’t have been happier. I wasn’t wrong to imagine my life as a working mom, but I had changed my mind, and that was just fine.

2. Your child is the true love of your life. 

My mom always tried to explain to me the deep love you have for your child. I understood on the surface level, but experiencing it was much different. I did not have that moment the second she was born. I loved her like crazy, but the overwhelming, I love you so much I could break, love did not happen until we had been home a few days. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was looking at her and just realized what it would really mean being her mom. There would be not a single second of hesitation that for the rest of forever I would do whatever I could to protect her, teach her, and love her. It was the most beautiful feeling and it continues to grow each and every day. She is my perfection.

3. I could totally have a flat stomach and toned arms if I wanted to. I just don’t want it that badly.

I have always had trouble with my stomach and my arms. I realized that if I wanted to have a flat stomach and toned arms, I could! I just would have to give up almost all of my favorite foods and work out a ton. I could make all sorts of excuses about not having enough time with a new baby, or that I am nursing so I cannot limit myself too much, but the honest truth is, it’s just not worth that much to me.

I want to look good; who doesn’t? I work out, and eat right most of the time, but the amount of effort I would need to put into getting my ideal body shape is not something I am willing to put in right now. It doesn’t mean I am a failure. It doesn’t mean I am giving up. It just made me realize that those things do not mean as much to me anymore. If those goals become more important, than I can achieve them. They just aren’t right now

4. Being a mom is tough, whether you work outside or inside the home, or whether you are a stay at home mom.

I guess I always knew this fact, but it’s different now that I am living it. There are times as a SAHM that I think that I would love to be at work. I would love to get dressed in “real” clothes and not have to worry about the getting covered in spit up. As a teacher, it’s not like I would have the freedom to go to the bathroom when I wanted, and I would still have a ton of kids around me. The break outside of the home and the adult conversation during my lunch break would be awesome!

But, then I think of weeks like last week, when Cupcake came down with a fever and a rash around 8am. If I were a teacher, I’d have to find a sub, while trying to throw together a lesson plan outline, while still trying to control my class. That would be terrible! I might miss out on the tons of diapers during the day, but all of the chores I do during the day now, would have to happen at night or on the weekend.

So then I think about being a work at home mom. The best of both worlds! This may be true, but it could also be conceived of as the worst of both worlds.

On any day, any constellation of “momming” could be amazing. They all have their downfalls and difficulties. There is no one right or best option. Each family and mom is different. Some moms do not have a choice of which category they fall into. For some moms, being a SAHM would be a horrible fit. They would not be as complete of a mother without that working side of themselves. For this year, being a working mom would not fit me. During this first year of momming, I would not have been able to give my class everything that I would want to, which is why I made my decision. It was right for me, and for Cupcake, and for my family. That’s all that matters.

I wish we all could just support each other.

5. Organic foods taste different (in a really good way)

This is probably shameful to some of you out there, but I haven’t fully bought into the whole organic thing yet. I didn’t always have the money to purchase the more expensive food items and I just put the thoughts of pesticides out of my mind. I don’t want to get into an argument here on the benefits of organic foods, because nothing sold me like the time I accidentally purchased a can of organic diced tomatoes instead of my regular to make my homemade sauce (see, I really am becoming more of a chef these days!).

I saw the can and just thought, “Crap. What a waste of money.” Then, I opened it. The smell of the tomatoes was so, tomato-y. It was a beautiful smell. It smelled like the first bite into a ripe tomato on a summer day. It was utterly amazing and the smell nearly sold me itself. But, the sauce I made was perhaps the most delicious I’ve ever tasted at any restaurant, and certainly from any jar. It was glorious. My husband raved about it.

So I was born into the world of eating organic foods as often as I can. Screw health (no, not really)-but the taste is everything!

6. Real friends can handle when you change and will change with you.

Having a baby changes everything, including your friendships. Some friends welcomed Cupcake with open arms. They graciously understood when we were unavailable due to new parenthood. We missed out on the wedding of Cupcake’s godfather and other friends due to the craziness of a newborn. We did not make it to social events. We were absent for a little while. When we reemerged, we were available at different times. Gone were the days of Friday night dinners out. Started were the days of Saturday morning family fun activities. I did not return calls or texts as quickly. My real friends got it. When it was hard to adapt to the change (which is totally normal), we talked about it and moved on to a better understanding and a better friendship.

Some friends, however, have mostly disappeared. They still care, as we do, but our lives are in very different places now so it is harder to connect. Still, my true friends have been there no matter how different our lives may seem on the surface. It makes me appreciate those good friends all that much more!

7. Sometimes the things you think you are bad at, you have not given enough of a chance.

If you had asked me last year, I would have said I was an alright cook. I could make meals that were satisfactory and relatively healthy and tasted good enough. I just did not enjoy it. (Baking on the other hand, was always a favorite!)

When I decided to become a SAHM, I realized I would be taking on the lion’s share of the cooking. This scared me as I have a relatively limited repertoire of recipes. I wanted to make healthy food that tasted good. I also needed things that were quick and easy due to Cupcake. Furthermore, on a limited income, I needed recipes that would not be too expensive! I was terrified.

And then, I gave myself some time. And I found out I am a pretty good little cook! With the help of the internet, I have found a multitude of recipes that fit the bill. I have taken chances and most of the time the recipes come out quite good! I have been surprised because I literally never thought of myself as a good cook. I now feel confident that I am!

So is there something that you think you’re bad at that you’d be willing to improve?

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