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The Hardest Lesson I Had to Learn as a New Mom

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Photograph by Twenty20

I remember it clearly, my husband and I driving to a restaurant on a Friday evening, a five-week-old baby in tow in the back seat. I had been out with my mom all day with a nine-pound dream angel while we ran errands and stopped for lunch at a coffee shop. I convinced my husband to go out to eat that night because I really wanted a date with him, some quality time we could share, where one of us wasn’t eating a plate of food on the couch holding the baby.

About halfway to the restaurant, my sleeping daughter decided to wake up and scream bloody murder. We continued on, asking each other every few minutes, “What do you want to do?” over the wails coming from the back seat. Finally, as she started gagging and choking in her hysteria, I snapped at my husband to just take us home.

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I was mad. I was mad because dinner was spent on the couch holding a plate of reheated food over a screaming infant for the next two hours. I was mad because I really wanted that BBQ bacon burger and fries. I was mad because suddenly everything was different, and it was a wonderful different, but now all my carefully arranged plans were being dictated by the baby and what kind of mood she was in.

One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn as a new mom is this: Things aren’t going to go my way.

I hate not being in control. I hate when my careful planning backfires.

Sure, of course I knew having a baby would change everything. But it’s not until you're waist-deep in spit-up and going on three hours of sleep for the fourth week in a row, or having to turn around from a restaurant where they serve your favorite burger because your child is losing her shit that you realize: Having a baby changes everything.

No matter how well I plan out my morning to arrive on time to the doctor, my daughter will barf on her outfit as we’re walking out the door. Decide to put her in that new super cute and super expensive white outfit? Three words: Blowout at Target. That popular sleep guide I just bought that claims to help your child sleep through the night? That’s cute.

I hate not being in control. I hate when my careful planning backfires. As a new mom, things are not going to go my way. Many times, I'm left feeling helpless—or worse, resentful. How can you resent a baby?

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Here’s the thing: I’m growing. Every day, I’m growing. I’m learning to roll with the punches, even through the hard days. Just recently, I have learned to laugh when I hear a rumble coming from the car seat and know once again, I will be late because my child pooped at an inopportune time.

If parenting teaches you anything, it’s to be flexible. It’s to accept the fact that your life is no longer just your own. I’m amazed at how far I’ve come from that evening drive. I’m not perfect—not even close—and battle with frustration and anger when all the best planning goes to hell. But I’m becoming a better mother—and wife, for that matter—by learning to let certain things go, and give myself grace amidst the chaos.

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