On July 14, 2015, at 12:34 am, I gave birth to a baby boy named Brayden.
When I type those words, it’s still so hard to believe! It’s so real, but it’s so surreal on many levels.
My dad always laughs when I say, “I can’t believe I have a kid!” It’s a statement that comes out of my mouth a few times a week these days.
I was super scared of giving birth, even though a few people in the world have come through it quite successfully. Ya know, a few billion. But that didn’t make the unknown any more comfortable! I was excited, but pretty terrified.
Well, thanks to this guy below (my husband, Ryan) as well as my own mama – and some unbelievable doctors and nurses – I made it through that life changing experience.
But I still can’t believe it. 🙂
So, now that I’ve had my coffee, I’d love to share 5 lessons my son Brayden has taught me over the last 8 1/2 months.
1. Some of the best experiences of your life will feel completely, totally and utterly overwhelming when you start.
I’ll never forget the first shower I took after having “little B.”
At the hospital, it was my first moment to myself. I was so excited to freshen up and start day 2 in my new role as a “mom.” My husband Ryan was chillin on the little sofa in my room, little B was with a nurse having some tests done and I was so excited to get my zen on with a nice, hot shower.
I headed into my private bathroom and about 10 seconds into my zen-time, I completely lost it. Like full-on bawling. The thoughts quickly raced through my head:
“OH. MY. GOD. Can I do this?”
“I love this little kid so much. What if something happens to him?”
“How will I know what to do?”
“I’ve babysat my nieces before, but I’m TOTALLY responsible for this baby’s LIFE, like 24/7. AHHH!”
“Is this real? No really, can I do this? What if I fail?”
For a few minutes in that hot shower, I felt totally lost and overwhelmed. It was crazy! I was filled with so much love, amazement and wonder at what I had just experienced, but I was completely and utterly fear-stricken.
Well, 8 1/2 months later, it turns out that voice of fear was just that – a voice.
It wasn’t real.
Being with my son over these past 8 1/2 months has taught me that having fear before you do something means it’s probably going to be AMAZING. I’m learning as I go and I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I don’t have to have them all.
With family, friends and a community of new moms to reach out to via the phone, text and Facebook groups, I’m reminded that fear is common and fear is actually awesome. And everyone deals with it in one way or another. It means you care about whatever adventure you’re about to go on.
I’m sure my son feels afraid when he’s trying to crawl. But that doesn’t stop him from attempting it, over and over and over every single day.
2. “Failing” is awesome. And means you’re on the right track.
So the crawling. My son is trying, but it’s not really happening. And he’s totally cool with that. He tries on the daily, and he fails.
Then he cries a little cuz he’s frustrated. Then he smiles. Then he laughs. Then he’s like ok, I’ll try again in a little bit. On to the next moment. What else can I smile about?
My son Brayden fails all the time and it doesn’t ruin his day, so why should any perceived failure in my life ruin my day? It shouldn’t.
Don’t get that promotion? It’s all good – you’re still worthy. Didn’t make the right decision? You’re not a bad person – learn from it. Food all over your face? Ain’t no thing, chicken wing.
If you’re failing, you’re trying. And if you’re trying, you’re awesome. Do you know how many people never even try? I’ve learned to give myself kudos for the attempt itself.
Whether it’s taking on a new freelance client (“will they like the work I produce?”), writing a new blog post (“what if it sucks? What if no one reads it?”), doing something for the first time as a rookie mom (“Am I doing this right? Am I keeping little B safe? AHHH!”), going back to yoga after many, many months of not practicing (“What if I can’t do any of the poses like I used to be able to?”) – little B has taught me that the outcome doesn’t really matter.
Just do it, man.
And if you “fail”, just find a toy and keep playing.
This kid has shown me that it’s really not as serious as my mind makes it out to be. His ability to move on to the next joyful moment reminds me that my reaction to any perceived “failure” is 100 percent my choice.
3. A genuine smile can awaken a person’s heart. So smile at people as often as you can.
This kid smiles like it’s nobody’s business. Like for real.
And every time he does, it rips through my heart in the best way ever.
He has taught me to share this gift of a smile with as many people as possible, as often as I can. It’s a gift that costs nothing and literally takes 1-2 seconds out of your day.
So instead of pretending to check my phone or looking off in the distance when I see someone in line at Starbucks or next to me in traffic, I now try to hold their gaze for a few seconds and give them a smile. As uncomfortable as it is sometimes. It may change the course of their day.
We have no idea what other people are going through, so little B’s smile reminds me to share the love whenever I get the chance. And regardless of whether they smile back, it always makes me feel better.
4. The present moment is the best moment. Ever.
I would say 98% of the time, Brayden is totally in the moment. He’s totally smiling, he’s totally sleeping, he’s totally playing, he’s totally laughing or he’s totally reminding me it’s time to eat.
I give this kid mad props for being “totally” into whatever he’s doing.
He doesn’t multi-task (ok, he can’t really multi-task yet, but it counts!), he is super into exploring his hands, he is into apple sauce in a way that I never thought humanly possible….he constantly reminds me to be mindful – to be in the moment.
He does even the smallest things with great intensity. Maybe because his brain can only handle one thing at a time. Or maybe because his existence on this earth is designed to remind me to sink my teeth into whatever I’m doing and be PRESENT.
It’s so easy to think about the past, to ruminate about the future – but how wonderful is it to get lost in a moment? To get lost in a delicious sandwich, to really appreciate the fresh water you’re so lucky to be drinking, to savor the hot shower you’re taking, to really listen to your best friend or mother or brother or sister share their lives with you – without doing anything else in that moment.
In our fast-paced, multi-tasking, productivity seeking, technology-infused world, it’s very difficult to be present. I struggle with it daily. But this little dude reminds me that at any moment I can stop, breathe and take a look around me and really get into the moment.
And when I do it, it’s AWESOME.
5. It’s ok to just CHILL sometimes, man.
As someone who’s addicted to productivity, crossing off to-do lists and feeling in control of my responsibilities, this little dude’s ability to relax is so good for me.
He reminds me to JUST CHILL sometimes!
I took this photo yesterday and it’s probably one of my favorites.
He’s like “Mom, it’s cool. You don’t have to always be DOING something. Look at me – I was playing, I was eating – now I’m straight chillin. I’m not trying to get anything done. I can’t crawl and I can’t walk and I’m still learning to talk, but it’s cool, dude. I have time to do that stuff after I spend a few lovely minutes RELAXING.”
He has taught me the power of relaxation.
Sometimes you just gotta leave the to-do list undone. The email unanswered. The text un-replied. That’s not a word but just go with it.
As busy as I feel sometimes between motherhood, working, trying to keep the house together, maintaining social connections, taking care of my mental and physical health, blah blah blah (we’re all busy, whether or not you have a kid, you feel me) – little B’s ability to relax and drool and not care reminds me to STOP and CHILL every once in a while.
It helps me refuel, it helps me lighten up and it helps me enjoy life.
So thanks, my little man, for teaching me a handful of valuable lessons over these past 8 1/2 months. I know I have so much more to learn about being your mom.
And one day when you read this, I hope you’re proud of me and I hope you know how loved you truly are.