What can you learn from a tiny baby who is only just beginning to grasp the world around them? Turns out, quite a bit!
My son may not be able to talk, walk, or even blow his nose; but man, has that little nugget taught me a lot in these first eight months of his life. I suppose these are all things I knew at one point too, but over the course of our lives, we tend to forget a few simple, yet critical, concepts that are the basis for happiness (in my humble opinion).
Put simply, we grow up and lose sight of what’s really important in life. Put more elaborately, I believe that society’s expectations coupled with our budding intellect and innate desires to be productive, accepted, and successful tend to skew our view of the world. We also concentrate our efforts on “adulting” tasks; like scheduling doctors’ appointments, doing copious amounts of laundry, and making sure our kids only eat things that are edible; that we become, dare I say, too focused for our own good. While my son has certainly kept me busy with said tasks, he has simultaneously taught me to zoom out and look at the big picture.
Here are eight things I’ve learned from him in just these short eight months. I can only imagine what the next 600 or so will bring!
#1: Good sleep is crucial.
It’s so simple, but so easy to forget throughout the hustle and bustle of everyday life. If my son doesn’t get enough sleep within a 24-hour period, he is a completely different baby, and it’s completely explainable. Why do we so often disregard this as adults? If you are snapping more easily than normal, or the sound of your partner’s breathing is getting especially innerving, take a second to think about your sleep. Sure, we may need less sleep than an infant, but we are still human. And if your sleep is struggling, it might explain why your waking self is too.
#2: Sometimes you just need a hug.
Maybe it’s just me, but I definitely tend to neglect the important of physical touch as a source of comfort. Somewhere along the line, it felt unnatural to me. Did I feel like I was too old? Too mature? Too undeserving? I can’t say for sure, but I can say that I’m not the only one. If you are reading this, here is your sign to give hugging a try. Really lean into it, though. Don’t overanalyze it, and don’t allow judgement to take over. Just give someone you love a good, long hug, and see how you feel.
#3: Just because you can’t do something today, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do it tomorrow.
Infants grow so rapidly at the beginning that it can feel like a whirlwind. Granted, we never develop quite at fast as we do during the first few years of life, but even as adults we are constantly changing, learning and growing. Personally, a great example in my own life would be taking my dog for a walk while pushing my baby in his stroller. Seven months ago? An obscene suggestion! But now? A lovely weekend routine! Just like my son suddenly was able to roll over one day, at some point it all just clicked and we were sauntering down the sidewalk like the world was our oyster. And if this seems like a silly example of an achievement, see number 4.
#4: Celebrate every little win.
Life is not about mastering everything all at once. It’s about continuously taking small steps to eventually get wherever it is you want to go. The other day we literally jumped and cheered as my son learned he was able to pick up and put a baby puff in his mouth on his own. Is this something I would pat myself on the back for? Well, some days yes, but most days no. This was an exciting development for him because it meant he was one tiny step closer to be able to feed himself. But we don’t expect him to be making his own spaghetti dinner or cutting his own steak next week. No, there will be many, many baby steps before he gets to that point. And what is life if we don’t celebrate each one?
#5: Eating is simple.
On the topic of food, my son has really opened my eyes to the simplicity of feeding our bodies. I could write a host post on this topic alone, but to sum it up, eating doesn’t need to be complicated. Eat something nutritious when you are hungry, enjoy it, then stop when you are full. The end.
#6: When you look at someone, really look at them.
Have you ever had an infant stare into your eyes? It’s like they are stripping back your outer shell and gazing into your soul. When my son studies my eyes, it feels like the rest of the world just falls away. I feel like the most interesting person on the planet. Of course, we are all interesting, so why not remind each other of that fact? When I talk to people now, I make more of an effort to really focus on what they are saying, and to make eye contact. Does it creep some people out? Perhaps. But more often than not, I think it shows that I am giving that person my full attention, they are worth my time, and I care about what they are saying.
#7: A clean house is nice, but a fun and comfy home is better.
There’s not much to elaborate on with this one. I love a nice clean house as much as the next person, but I’ve come to realize two things. First, it will always get messy again. And second, it’s just not that important when all’s said and done. Sure, make sure the house is clean enough to be healthy and manageable. But don’t stress if there are a few toys on the floor, dishes on the counter, or curtains out of place. At the end of the day, your home should not be a dustless place with rigid rules and pristine surfaces. It is the place where your family lives, learns, thrives, and loves. And just like life, it will get messy sometimes.
#8: Everything is temporary.
Circling back to number 4, change is constant, and nothing lasts forever. For me personally, the newborn stage was a difficult time. While I was in the thick of it, it was hard for me to see past each individual day. It felt like life with my newborn son was my new and permanent reality, and that thought was extremely overwhelming (see more on this topic here). But what I didn’t realize at the time was just how quickly it would go by in the grand scheme of things. Already, at eight months, the newborn stage feels like a lifetime ago. Not only in terms of my son’s development, but it feels this way in terms of my own mindset and growth as a mother. And there have been so many other stages since then that have gone by just as quickly. My point here is, time keeps ticking and life keeps moving. It doesn’t stop. So, in good times, savor it. And in difficult times, find comfort in knowing that change will come soon enough.
What are your thoughts on these life lessons? Are there others you would add to the list?
Let me know!
Article originally published on Medium 2022