This post has been sitting in my drafts for far too long. You see, the amazing Eleanor tagged me in her #RockingMotherhood post, and I’ve been meaning to write mine. As a way to remind myself, I added the title to my drafts folder, and it’s been sitting there, waiting to be written for weeks now. What is it about bragging about the ways I’m rocking this motherhood thing that’s making me totally unable to write? Why can’t I sit and list what’s going well – it’s not that I think I’m bad at motherhood or something, but it’s just been a post that’s sat there, totally refusing to write itself in my head.
Now that school holidays are underway, I’m spending pretty much all day, every day with the kid. And while it’s wonderful in many ways, it’s also really hard to get anything done. But she’s napping now, so why not appreciate the moment. Allow me to pause, breathe and tell you all the ways that I think I’m rocking this motherhood thing.
1 – I let her be free
Obviously, I do everything necessary to keep her safe and protected. I don’t let her stick her fingers in outlets, eat poison, ride in a car without a car seat or go without vaccines. But otherwise, I try to just let her do her own thing. It’s hard when she wants to do stuff I don’t like, but unless it’s dangerous, I pretty much let her explore the world in her own way. This can mean opening and closing a door for an hour or taking what feels like ages to finish her food because she really wants to feed it to herself. I try to encourage her to be herself and not rein in her sense of adventure and discovery.
2 – I love her. A lot.
All parents love their kids in their own way, I’m sure. So I’m not sure how this would count on a list of ways that I’m rocking motherhood, but I love Harley. Intensely.
3 – I show my love with lots of affection
Hugs, kisses, cuddles, tickles, or even just my undivided attention. I try to make sure I show Harley how much I care throughout the day. Obviously, I also need to work or get things done, but I try to make time for her as much as possible.
4 – I don’t push gendered stuff
Harley can do or be anything. So I make it a point to not push her into a gendered pigeon hole. It’s not to say that I avoid gendered things at all costs. I love putting her in little dresses and skirts, but I make sure the colors aren’t overly pink, and I never worry if she gets those pretty clothes dirty. I buy her a range of toys, although she really does seem to like the peg workbench, shape sorting and puzzles the most at this particular moment. So far, she shows little interest in dolls, although she does baby her stuffed animals.
5 – I make time for myself
Okay, I’m not always great with this one, but I do try to make time for myself, to focus on my needs too. I know you can’t pour from an empty cup and all that, and while I do give her a lot of my energy and attention, I also try to make time for myself every day.
I’m not letting Harley get in the way of my career, my goals. I bring her along for the ride, and role model that behavior. I never want her to think that in order to have a successful career she will have to give up on a family or motherhood if that’s what she wants. It’s hard, but it’s all doable, and I try to show her that every day in how I build my work and family around each other.
7 – I let Dean father her in his way
Whether it’s by playing “drop the baby”, or flipping her upside down, or helping her walk all over the place, Dean has his own way of relating to Harley. I keep out of their relationship, letting them grow their bond with activities that they enjoy together. It’s not my job to micromanage his parenting, and I let him have fun with his kid and father her as only he can.
8 – I encourage alternative interests
I’m a gamer and a geek. Now, those are cool things, but when I was growing up they were most definitely alternative. Dean and I are both clearly “different” looking, and we are happy with that. We don’t try to fit the mold, and we role model that for Harley. She can be into gymnastics and drama or gaming and making robots. Whatever strikes her fancy, I encourage. Of course at this age, that includes a lot of pushing of buttons on controllers and opening and closing lip balms.
9 – I am protecting her future opportunities through dual citizenship and emigration
It was really hard to get Harley’s birth certificate from SA Home Affairs, but once I got her first bit of paperwork, I worked hard and ensured she also has documents from her other country. She is a South African AND an American. Now, we are preparing to move overseas to ensure she truly has the most opportunities available. It’s hard work and means totally changing our lives, but it’s part of being a parent to do what’s best for your little one.
10 – Breastfeeding is pure #RockingMotherhood
What could be a greater sign of rocking motherhood than literally giving my life forces for her? If you’ve never breastfed, you can’t imagine what it does to you – it makes you permanently hungry, thirsty, rules out taking real headache pills and can be absolutely exhausting. But it’s so worthwhile to give our littles ones the best start to life. Not every mom can, and this is in no way a judgment against those moms who rock motherhood in their own ways, but for me, breastfeeding is the epitome of #RockingMotherhood. It’s hard work, and gratifying, and so filled with love… and frustration. A year and a half later, and we are still at it. And I think it’s made all the difference in helping my tiny preemie princess grow into a thriving, busy, healthy toddler.