Eight months into this experience of motherhood, I’ve learned a fair amount. I now know, for example, that forgetting to clean out the diaper bag after a bottle has spilled inside and festered for a week is a mildewy, wretch-inducing mistake. Or that expressing breast milk in an airport bathroom during a short layover leaves behind a CSI-worthy milk crime scene.
I’ve also learned that holding my little boy close and whispering against his cheek often calms him from a tough spell of squalling. And that I have energy reserves I was unaware of before they were required to respond to him around the clock.
But as I watch my son grow, develop and gain his own experiences, I also learn from his approach to this new adventure, for him, of life.
He hasn’t had an easy run of it. He arrived early and stayed a day in the neonatal intensive care unit. He spent his first few days at home wrapped in an electric phototherapy device to combat jaundice. He developed a cow’s milk allergy that sent him to the emergency room and poses continuing challenges. He has trouble keeping food down, so he hovered at the bottom of the growth chart for months and requires one-on-one child care.
This is in addition to the typical infant travails of sitting in poop, waiting for someone to feed you and not understanding why your arms, legs, mouth or digestive system don’t seem to function quite well just yet.
Still, he greets every morning with a sweet and ready smile. His grievances are quickly forgotten. He tackles new tasks with pursed-lipped determination. He makes friends wherever he goes. His responses and experiences remind me of a few lessons to embrace in my own life:
10 Things I Learned From My 8-Month-Old
1. When you meet someone for the first time, smile at them with your whole face.
2. The dark is less scary when you know you’re not alone.
3. At some point in life we will all puke, pee or poop on ourselves or others. The people who love us will still love us.
5. Be excited when someone you love comes home or enters the room.
6. There’s no shame in wearing pajamas all day, especially if you’re not going anywhere – but sometimes even if you are.
7. Engage in uncontrollable fits of giggling, even if no one else understands what’s funny.
8. Feel proud of yourself when you’ve done something new or achieved an accomplishment.
9. In an uncertain world, it’s wise to learn how to feed yourself.
10. If you’re having a meltdown, take a walk, distract yourself or spend a few minutes looking out the window. You’ll feel better, or at least forget why you were upset for a while.