Responsibility aside, planning is one of my superpowers. So, this new mama role is really causing a rub. Being responsible for a business is one thing, but our daughter has forever trumped work life. That means any plans I make are now subject to whatever she is experiencing in her growth and development processes. They say it’s best to go with baby’s flow. So, I’m letting go of the reigns I’ve been in control of for so long and I am learning how to embrace adaptability… and truth be told, I’m finding it freeing.
It was six whole years into our marriage when we discovered my husband’s top strength is adaptability. That ended up as one of the greatest “ah ha” moments for me, as many a frustration had previously emerged as I tried to book weekends away, vacations, or even dinner plans (responsibilitarians unite!). Most times he would shrug his shoulders and say something like, “let’s just see how we feel”. Not exactly the best solution for securing our favorite restaurant or resort for an anniversary or birthday celebration… but I digress.
Fast forward twelve years and Kevin has learned how important making plans is, for many things… and I’ve now been thrust into learning how to embrace and work with adaptability for a whole new reason – our baby girl. Even though I knew I would need to be flexible during the labor, delivery, newborn and infant stages, how can a responsibilitarian truly be prepared for the introduction of a whole new life skill that bucks against their 40+ year old system?
Here are a few ways I’m learning to be adaptable in this season:
1. Being present.
It has been miraculous, head-spinning, and eye-opening to watch this little life grow and learn. Each day brings something new. Some new sound she’s learning to make or a new skill she is developing. Not only that, but she has already sprouted into a two foot tall mini-human. How did that happen so fast?
I don’t want to miss any part of this, not one single ‘first’ or any gentle touch. I never want to forget her snuggles or the process of nap time, nor do I want to regret rushing through any tender, trust-building moments. Those are sweet minutes that have already flown by.
Some days she falls asleep for naps and bedtime immediately and other days she needs extra time. Whichever day I’m granted, she is a gift and if she is the only baby we ever have, I need to absorb this experience fully, at each moment I have the opportunity.
I never want this time to end, but I know it will. That’s why being present in each moment is something I have been aware of since the first day. Even when it forces me to flex and flow around her, it’s worth it knowing I am here, not distracted, and fully embracing each moment.
2. Knowing it will get better.
Each new stage of this journey will bring its own challenges and I will need to be nimble. I know this new pivoting skill will be flexed daily and I can count on that muscle getting strong. I’ll be able to call on it when needed and even long into the future as I build muscle memory. What a gift.
But I can also trust things will continue to get better and routines and rhythms will smooth out.
I learned, not so early on, that I can’t dictate my baby’s schedule right now. Yes, I am guiding her to learn how to put herself to sleep and not eat through the night, but sometimes she just wakes up (like last night). It’s just how it goes, but it will get better because she is learning, and she is smart!
3. Leaning on instinct and intuition.
Every baby, every family and every person is different, which is why everyone has an opinion about how to raise a baby. Heck, I had strong thoughts about what I would and wouldn’t do and I had ZERO experience. But so much of that has flown the coop and I’ve realized everyone needs to do what is best for them, their baby, and their family.
No matter what input we receive or what courses we take, we are choosing to listen to our hearts and our intuition and know that however adaptability needs to show up, it’s ok. We are doing what’s right for us. Full stop.
4. Trusting that we are learning together.
Adapting is not a recipe for smudging over the hard times. I must learn through those times, too. But we are both growing and I’m adaptable to that as well.
Yes, I tried to get her on a schedule a couple months in, believing that she, quite literally, needed to nap every two hours even when I didn’t see sleep queues (hello, new mom). I even worried when she wouldn’t eat when I thought she should. But then I listened to the voices of reason and realized she will lead me in what she needs. She is learning how to communicate and I am learning how to listen. We are learning this thing together.
5. Being humble and going with the flow.
Every day I hope and pray for a good nap day and every day is unique. No two days have ever been the same. And just when I feel confident that we’ve turned a corner it all changes again.
When each day starts at a different time, I have no way of knowing when naps are going to make the schedule for the day. Not only that, her naps (and nighttime sleep, too) aren’t consistent in lengths, so even if I knew what time she was going to sleep, I have no idea for how long it’ll be.
Talk about a humbling new way to run a business, especially when I was so organized and prompt before she arrived.
Some days my Zoom calls work out just right and I get focus time with my client. Other days she joins my calls. No matter what, I am learning to go with the flow and remember that my priority is the miracle I am called to care for. However my schedule may shift, or who or what is waiting for me while I rock her to sleep or comfort her crying, today won’t be something I wish away for a more reliable routine.
6. Being honest and believing people will understand.
The responsibilitarian in me disdains making my clients, team members, or anyone really, be flexible to whatever unknown schedule and situation I may be juggling any given day. But I have to put my own pride down and be honest with everyone these days.
I have chosen to give in to this process, her process, and be ok asking for adaptability from those I work with… and for that matter, everyone else as well. So far, everyone has been kind and even happy to oblige. Mostly because they either understand from first-hand experience, or they know it’ll mean a better call or that she’ll grace us with her presence (and any input she deems necessary to contribute to the conversation).
7. Recharging when needed.
I might like routine, but I also need variety in my work and home patterns. That’s why I really do love being an entrepreneur who can run my own kind of schedule.
That said, pivoting can be exhausting. While most nights my little dreamer sleeps long stretches and even puts herself back to sleep after waking up, some nights are just plain hard and we’re up multiple times. Those next days I’ve learned that self-care is paramount. If my oxygen mask isn’t on first, I can’t help others, right?
When this mama-preneur needs to restore her energy, we often stop together and nap side-by-side. I will always savor those sweet minutes of sleep with her tucked under my arm or listening to my heartbeat on my chest.
Suffice it to say, I have succumbed to fluidity and the nature of this ever changing, ever developing role. I have made peace with adaptability being a permanent strength I must rely on because just like her, I am also changing daily.
Structure may be important and something I’ve relied on to build my business and keep my personal life organized, but I refuse to be rigid and miss out on learning with her. There must be balance between being flexible and also consistent. So, while our daily routines aren’t yet certain and schedules may be a moving target, I am unwavering in my love and devotion, care and teaching. And that will be the foundation she grows up on.
I guess, no matter what age we are, we always need to open our arms and minds to learning new lessons and strengths.
And, I am.
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