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  • Writer's pictureGenieve Hanley


Disclaimer: Narrowing down my first-time-mom lessons to just six was a major feat. So a round of applause can be given here at the start of this read. You don’t have to wait until you get to the end. Ha! :-D

Here are a few critical things out of oh, so many that I have learned fast through my parenting journey so far. Some may seem petty, but they’re really not. Believe me.

1) YOU CAN’T PREPARE FOR THIS JOB. And yes, I referred to motherhood as a job, because I feel it truly is in a lot of ways, and it’s a full-time manager-and-admin-in-one job at that. Oh, and you’re on call, on duty, 24/7/365. And there’s no clocking out. I remember when I was pregnant, I invested in so many books and apps to coach me for my huge, new upcoming role. I built a level of sheer confidence that I was going to nail this thing, hands down. I viewed them as instruction manuals that will lead me to smooth, straightforward, seamless success as a first-time mom, supported by the good examples of my own mother. This should be f***ing a breeze. The truth? I am a hot mess, on a good day. This parenting shit is hard, and I’ve learned that no playbook could inform your path ahead as a new parent. No child and no circumstances are the same, and what works for one family, may not work for yours. This is a ‘play it by ear’ role, whether you like it or not. You’ve just got to find your own rhythm, play by your own rules as you go along, and understand that ‘winging it’ doesn’t necessarily equate to inefficiency or failure. I’m now a freestyle genius!

2) THE COLOUR WHITE IS A NO-NO. Zendi’s 6th birthday happens this week, and although I feel this rule isn’t as applicable now as it used to be when she was younger (our recent grad-themed shoot was mostly white), it’s still worth noting as I reflect on the rollercoaster years gone by. Don’t use white in the early years. Don’t even think of it. Just avoid it altogether. Eliminate it as much as possible from your palette when it comes to furniture, walls, decor, bedding, linen, clothing, etc. You catch my drift. Kids are kids (also known as dirt and uh-oh magnets). They don’t consider ‘mess’ the same way we do as adults. Whites will never remain white around them, and if you’re a neat freak like I am, you’d know this can truly pain one’s soul. There are more reasons than one why black remains my favorite color.

3) YOU INHERIT ‘THE LOOK’. As a child, my parents didn’t have to do much to reprimand me and my siblings for our wrong-doings. ’The look’ would stop us dead in our tracks and make us immediately rethink and reshuffle our actions! ‘The look’ doesn’t need words or added gestures to be a cold, hard threat to kids. It’s hard to explain. If you know, you know, and I was always mystified about my parents’ ability to use this sinister superpower. Well, I am pleased to share with you all that it was auto-gifted to me. This default form of sorcery is perhaps genetic, passed down in the blood I believe, because as soon as I became the parent of a toddler, ‘the look’ became a part of my discipline tactics without much thought or effort.

4) PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE. So I’ll admit this was never one of my strongest suits. I’m a results-oriented person. I plan. I scheme. I timeline. I strategize. I calculate. It’s just what I do. My mind finds it hard to wrap around high levels of uncertainty, spontaneity, epic fails and flops, and a shitload of questions I really can’t answer most times. I’ve learned to be patient. I remind myself that life is brand new to my little one and she is constantly learning, and obviously so am I. Some things aren’t worth getting upset or losing your sanity over, once you keep the big picture in mind.

5) YOU CAN NEVER TAKE TOO MANY PHOTOS, OF THE EXACT SAME THING. Apple has made some serious money off of me with the constant extension of my storage plans. There are currently over 65,000 photos and videos in my phone and I can guarantee you that at least 3/4 of them are of Zendi. I point and click so much because I don’t want to miss a moment. I still stare at her in awe, and I want to remember the feeling, always. Your ability to capture the memories though, wears off somewhat though as the years go by, as I find my kid isn’t as willing to pose for me as much, and she now ignores and doesn’t cooperate with my snaps. “Oh my gosh. You’re so annoying!” she recently told me because of my stalk-and-shoot tactics, and I died inside.

6) TIME FLIES. Speaking of ‘moments’, cherish them. I remember when Zendi was born, so many well-versed parents blessed me with their advice including the common phrase that came in one form or a next: “It goes by fast. Enjoy it.” Zendi just graduated Montessori and is now headed to Grade 1 in a new school and I honestly don’t know what to do with myself. How did that happen? How did we move from breastfeeding, bottles, burping and diapers to stationery sets, backpacks and uniforms? As time speeds by, I’ve learned to never underestimate the value of how I spend our time together.

BONUS (Because I really couldn’t narrow this down to just 6): IT TAKES A VILLAGE. As Zendi moves on to a new, exciting chapter in her life, and I inevitably take on a new set of joys, adventures and hiccups, I take this opportunity to thank the many people in our circle who have helped me love, support and care for her thus far. Their backing has been critical during my growth as a 'momprenuer'. I love to think of myself as a totally independent, DIY, 'I got this' sort of woman, but I truly can’t imagine succeeding at this parenting thing all on my own without them. Therefore I am eternally grateful to have a solid team of family and friends that make the cogs turn, and I’ve learned there’s no shame in receiving help! Blessings to you all. You know who you are.

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