I was hanging out with a new friend yesterday who’s a first-time mom of a 2-month-old. She seemed to be coping as well as could be expected, but it reminded me of how overwhelmed I felt when I was a new mom. I thought of all the mama skills I’ve gained that have helped make my life easier.
Not easy mind you. But easier – today I was able to accomplish taking my four-month-old and three-year-old with me to the grocery store. And I also did laundry. And applied for a job. And tonight we took the little ones out for pizza and dancing. So it was a productive day.
My friend Catherine writes a blog called The Ten Thousand Hour Mama. There’s a theory that if you spend ten thousand hours practicing something you will become an expert at it. So, ten thousand hours of violin practice, and hopefully you’re ready for a career as a professional musician.
After 3 and 1/4 years as a full-time mom, I think I’ve easily surpassed the ten thousand hour mark. A conservative estimate of ten hours of mama time per day for 3 years puts the total at 10,950 hours as of my daughter’s April birthday. So even subtracting the hours my mom has watched my daughter or that she’s been at preschool, we can call it good.
Skills that I’ve gained? Breastfeeding has been much easier this time around. In part because of my baby, but in part because I knew what to do. I also used to be really uncomfortable breastfeeding in public because I was worried about offending people. But I don’t care anymore. My baby’s need to eat comes first.
I’ve also mastered the skill of getting out of the house. This is incredibly hard as a new mom. Packing the diaper bag with enough wipes, diapers and outfit changes. Getting the baby strapped into the carseat without too much screaming. Or just maintaining your calm throughout the screaming. Now also getting the three-year-old ready and in the car. This is actually one of the most important skills I’ve mastered – I try to have an outing every day in order to maintain my sanity.
I’ve managed to get my 3-year-old potty trained while taking care of my newborn. Or rather, she accepted the bribe of going to ballet camp if she would start pooping on the potty. Ballerinas use the potty.
The things is, you can’t ever be an expert mama because every child is different and every stage is different. I feel like taking care of the baby is easier this time because I’ve done it before and perhaps because of the baby’s personality. But age 3 is new territory and it’s hard.
Maybe once both of my children have graduated from college, then I can consider myself an expert mama. Until then, I’m still learning.