Photo by Sarah Beth Photography
Maternity leave is quickly coming to a close.
Much as I assumed would happen, the time has flown!
And stood still.
And then flown again!
New parenthood is something for which you can't truly prepare. Sure you can prepare for the baby, and prepare I did! But there is nothing else in the world quite like parenthood. There are ways in which puppy parenthood leant itself to the real thing, but you can't shut the baby in his crate and leave for the day.
Sometimes you'll want to though!!
Motherhood is undoubtedly the biggest challenge I've faced so far. There are plenty of parenting books out there, but not one of them was written specifically for the wriggly little alien they yank out of you and then send you home with. This means you can read each one and still not be any closer to answers for why YOUR baby won't stop crying/pooping/barfing/seems to hate you. "The baby will stop crying" is a fun little ditty I was told while pregnant and the slow repetition of this phrase has gotten me through many a long cry sesh. Not entirely sure if I was trying to convince myself or Gavin of this, but the screams do always end.
Like any new endeavor, it can take a while to establish your sea legs. I'm learning something new each day (if not each hour/minute) and it's so cool to be taught lessons from a being who can't even control their own bowel movements. Gavin is almost 10 weeks old and he's finally starting to coo and smile and even giggle on occasion, but he's very selective about handing those favors out. Guess what else he does?
He notices my phone.
I have tried (and failed) so many times to capture said elusive smiles on camera (phone camera), to no avail. As soon as my phone replaces my face in his line of vision, his expression goes blank and he stares at the phone. Not to go all Aristotle on your ass, but that spoke to me on a much larger scale than failing to capture a smile. I know that I don't want him to be on social media, but what I hadn't considered was that I don't want him to equate happiness/smiles/laughter with a phone either. Sure, that can seem like quite a leap. But if every time he smiles at me I shove a phone in his face, what else am I teaching him? I want him to come to the conclusion he naturally did, which was to smile at the face of a person who loves and cares for him. We learn so early to smile for the camera (not just us millennials screwing up the next generation, even I learned that as a lil tot) but when did that replace smiling in our actual lives/circumstances?
I feel like this is where Instagram comes in to play. We're all too happy to capture a perfect moment and post it for the world to see but by doing so, so often miss out on the real-time moments in the lives we actually live. I am a lover of photographs and that won't change, but already my little guy is teaching me the big lessons. I love so much more that moment when he locks his eyes on me and smiles, and it doesn't matter at all that I'll probably never catch it on camera. It matters that I've stopped trying and am instead soaking it all in while I can.
I know that I will fail him time and time again, but I also know perfection is not what loving him requires. He has lots of earthly needs and diapers are unfortunately not free, but as for emotionally, his needs are few and simple. (PS-same goes for adults!)
I need to be there for him -- fully there, without a screen between us and nothing else either (except a diaper, truly they need those things!). I want him to equate my face with smiles and good baby feels; obviously this should evolve as he does but for now I feel like that's a fair ask from a nine week old. He certainly doesn't need to see my iPhone whenever he sees me.
I am admittedly a novice in the parenting arena, but I'm nothing if not a willing student so cheers to my newest little teacher.
Behind the dainty days is a whole lot of planning. And coffee.