It’s been said more than a few times that hindsight is 20/20. Most of us probably don’t realize that our parents are perfect representations of that hindsight when it comes to helping us. You see, they have already been where we are in many ways. They have been young and naive. They’ve also been new parents before too. The wisdom that is more often than not a byproduct of age is a tremendous help to the younger generation. This gentle wisdom has surpassed the wiles of passion and out of control emotions and instead been replaced by a solid knowledge that can only come from life and experience.
Before I had Madelyn, I had all the answers in terms of how I’d make money and parent single-handedly. With one hand I’d change the diapers, while I transcribe part time with the other. After she arrived, I was overwhelmed and shocked by how difficult it was just to find time to shower or fix a sandwich. Where did superwoman go?
I finally worked up the nerve to call my mom and ask for help as my maternity leave was nearing its end. It was clear to me that I would not be able to do it all. I needed help. Surprisingly, the help I was looking for was mostly focused on diaper changes and someone to watch the baby while I slept. What I got was so much more. I got wisdom and insight that I couldn’t find in a book as well as history to bring many of these wise pieces of advice to life in my thoughts and imagination.
The first obvious truth was that my mom was in a clear position to help because she was not in the throws of post baby hormones and she’d been where I was many times. This prior experience gave her a peace and calm that I didn’t have.
On difficult days she’s simply walk over to me and take Madelyn from my arms. Madelyn would stop crying in mere seconds. I saw that my upset was frustrating to the baby. My mom knew this and would give me the time I needed to relax and regain my calm. It was truly a win-win. I walked away with a beautiful understanding of how precious and uplifting a calm spirit can be for everyone, not just babies.
My mom’s gentle calmness made me feel better as well. I calmed down watching my mother deal with my newborn. It was in these precious moments that I learned the power of calm. Learning to ask for help became something that I embraced as well. If I ever needed home care packages or any other help, I knew how to ask.
I learned to be patient with Madelyn and take breaks when I needed them. I learned all this by watching my mother model this behavior. More than anything I saw how utterly effective it was. It was almost like casting a spell. My breathing even changed as my mother led me from frazzled to mindful.
I was becoming a better mom because I had someone to model myself after, my own mother. The months stretched into a year and Madelyn was walking. My mom quickly taught me how to navigate the toddler years by controlling activities and creating a good schedule so that the baby slept when she was supposed to. She explained that a schedule would ensure that I’d have time for myself to do everything from sleep and enjoy a few quiet moments, to get much-needed tasks done.
She expertly showed me which activities were best for the baby according to a sleep schedule and everything else. I quietly watched in awe as she played with Madelyn an hour before her bedtime and was able to easily lay her down for the night without protest after that playtime. This was nothing short of magic to me. I received more than help for diaper changes and sleep. I become a better more mindful individual. This change in my demeanor had a positive effect on the baby too. I’d learned how to take high-stress situations and handle them with a calm spirit. This was so much more than what I bargained for.