This month’s cover is an extra special one, as we introduce the newest member of the Peekaboo family: Gwendolyn. In February of 2010, our first born, Ava, introduced her brother, Holden, on the cover, and then together they shared the first picture of Grant in March of 2013. Now the three together are on the cover with their newest baby sister! We are officially a “big” family, and, even though I never expected to have four kids, I can’t imagine our family any other way.
There are so many things I have learned over my years as a mom that have actually made the fourth baby easier than the first or second.
Aging might not be desireable in terms of energy levels or added wrinkles, but when it comes to having kids, added maturity makes being a parent so much easier. Being 11 years older than when we had our first baby brings with it a lot of life experience and an overall “calm” that I could have really used in my early 20’s when I first brought Ava home in full panic mode.
For example, I used to be so stressed when I would drive with a crying baby in the car seat! I was so worried that I was ruining Ava for life, and that she was just sitting there, building resentment for me that she would carry into her own adulthood. In reality, as soon as you get to your destination and take the baby out and give him or her a kiss and wipe their tears, they love you just as much as they did when you put them in their car seat. Focusing on the road and getting to the destination safely is much more important than getting distracted with worry, and–even more dangerous–reaching around trying to comfort them.
With additional kids, you also fully understand how fast time really does fly by, so it makes it much easier to savor it a little more. If it seems hard in the phase you are in, just take a few extra deep breaths, because the current phase will be over in the blink of an eye, and you will find yourself looking back on it and actually missing it.
I have also learned that no matter how capable of being perfect you are, or how hard you try to achieve that super-mom status, pushing yourself (especially in those first few weeks) will have the opposite effect, and you will eventually burn out. With our firstborn, I was going to be the mom who didn’t need to nap when the baby did, and I pushed myself to keep a clean house, keep up with work, and do everything for Ava without help. Two weeks in, and I found myself trying to take a nap on the sidewalk while taking Ava for a walk around the neighborhood. Not putting pressure on yourself to make everything perfect will in turn help things to go so much more smoothly, and actually feel more “perfect.”
The most important thing I have learned this time through is to put way more emphasis on the good moments than the tough ones. Hold on to every moment, or feeling, or accomplishment that makes you feel good and empowers you, and if it makes you feel weak or guilty then let it go without giving it any power. For instance, last week I took all the kids to the Amazeum by myself and we had the best time. Everyone was showcasing their best behavior and truly enjoying their time together. I felt like super woman until…. I realized I had no idea how to get the car seat out of the stroller, and, after YouTubing it with no success, found myself in the parking lot, sweating, while baby was crying and the big kids were begging for the candy I had just bought them inside (when things were still in “ah-mazing” mode). I hold on to the time inside when things were great and I shake off the tears in the parking lot, because, in the end (and after crying on the phone to my husband) I figured it out, and we all got back home where we could continue making more positive memories–including a very, very long nap for this momma and her crew.