Some years are quite unremarkable: they go by in the blink of an eye and leave you feeling like you missed something. 2019 was exactly like that for me, a transition period when I focused on working full time, keeping my toddler alive and thriving, being a decent partner, building a new human being, and not losing my mind in the process. It wasn’t easy, so just getting to the end unshattered feels like a victory, and I’ve learned a lot in the process:
1. It’s either me, the kid or the house – we can’t all look good at the same time
I used to worry about my looks before Eli, but after he was born, it just hasn’t been possible to keep the same standards for myself or anything at home. Some days the house will be spotless, others it’ll look like a crack house; some days Eli will look like prince George, others he’ll look like a character from a Dickens’ novel; some days I’ll look good, others I’ll look like the wicked witch of the west. Each day is a battle, and over the past year, I learned and accepted the fact that I simply can’t be on top of everything at the same time.
2. The second pregnancy is harder
Who the heck said it’d be easier?! I’m over five months along right now and still throwing up daily, and I never felt as tired as now, pregnant and caring for a toddler. If you’re planning on having a second child, consider that! The one thing I think is easier is the fact that I know what to expect and actually feel pregnant, not just worried sick and possessed by a parasitic alien as I felt the first time around.
3. Things rarely go as we plan, and it’s often for the best
Many of the best things to happen in my life were unplanned or even went totally against what I expected, and this year wasn’t different. I had very different plans when 2019 started, but I learned to be patient and understand that the universe has its own timeline, and everything will work out just fine at the right time.
4. I must stop underestimating how hard it is to do things alone with a small kid
Where was my mind when I decided it was a good idea to travel alone with Eli to meet friends in San Francisco? My trip was a disaster; I was stressed out, exhausted and frustrated the whole time. That was when I realized that traveling alone with a kid is much harder and requires way more discipline and logistics than I ever imagined. I won’t do that again anytime soon, and I’ve certainly abandoned the plan to go alone to Brazil with Eli and baby #2 during my second maternity leave. Sometimes staying put and peaceful at home is simply the best decision!
5. Mothers are some competitive creatures
Before I became one, I imagined moms were a group of empathetic humans who understood and supported each other’s struggles. Gosh, was I wrong – truth be told I did meet many amazing mamas, but I was also impressed by how competitive some are, always trying to one-up each other. You know, like when you celebrate your one-year-old sleeping through the night for the first time, and they’ll brag that their munchkin has slept 12 hours straight since they were 30 minutes old, or when your little starts to crawl, and they’ll dismiss it by saying theirs do cartwheels. This weird sort of self-affirmation has got to have some psychological explanation related to how lost we feel after becoming a mother or something, jeez.
6. Having a child opens up your life to all kinds of unsolicited advice and judgment
What’s it with everyone thinking they can advise on how to care for your baby or criticize the way you parent – including people who aren’t even parents? From distant relatives to random old ladies and single young men, everyone has an opinion and is dying to let the new mom know. The last super helpful advice I got was from a woman at the bus stop who insisted I should remove the rain cover from the stroller, or Eli would suffocate. Phew…
7. It’s ok to be rude sometimes
Just as everyone feels entitled to judge the way you parent, it’s ok to be rude and put these people in their place. Now I go with this saying we have back home, “if you say whatever you want, be ready to hear what you don’t want” – just answer back, mama; it’s so satisfying!
8. Happiness in a relationship includes celebrating your partner’s successes as if they’re yours
In 2019 Thiago was involved in an important project that took many hours of dedication and hard work. I followed every step and, in the end, felt as happy for his success as I would about something I did myself. It was awesome to see everything working, and I was so proud of how proud he was with the result! It felt like a real partnership for me and made me happy for all we’ve achieved in our relationship.
9. A year of maternity leave is a way shorter period than it sounds
One day I was giving birth, the other I was getting ready to go back to work. What happened in between is a blur that went by in what feels like minutes! I’ll find ways to use my time better the next time around!
10. A good daycare is expensive but worth every penny
Daycare certainly adds to the high cost of living in BC. Still, I’m glad to pay when I see how lovingly the educators treat Eli and how happy he is at his daycare. You couldn’t pay me a million to care for a dozen little creatures pooping and getting into trouble all day, so I value and respect daycare workers immensely. And Eli’s even provides all the meals; it saves us so much work!
11. Your idea of vacation changes entirely once you become a working parent
When I was younger and single, a real vacation meant traveling far, looking for exotic adventures and stories to tell. Honestly, now, a whole day off to myself, napping with my dog and not sharing my food, while Eli is at daycare, already feels like a relaxing vacation. Things became simpler – getting older and boring has its advantages! haha
12. My parents are the best, and I’m so lucky to have them
The older and busier I get, the more thankful I am for all the support I get from my parents, and gosh, did I need help this past year! I’m grateful every day for having them in my life, and they’re my greatest parenting role models.
13. This person is pissing me off x I’m pissing myself off through this person
I came across this meme one day and liked it so much that I printed and hung it in my office. It represents one of the fundamental doctrines of Buddhism – suffering is about how you let the outside world affect you. I try to always keep it in mind, so looking at this every day is an excellent reminder.
14. 7-Eleven is THE best place to buy coffee in Canada
I need coffee to function and used to spend a lot buying lattes at Starbucks, until I found out I can get a tasty machine latte at 7-Eleven and only pay 50 cents if I use their app and bring my cup. Plus, the seventh coffee is free! It’s a win-win: save lots of money and create less trash by always using my mug.
15. I’ll become vegan someday, but now is not the time
Early in the year, I stopped eating meat and was learning how to adopt a plant-based diet. However, once I resumed commuting and working full-time while also mothering and taking care of the house, I just couldn’t handle the change anymore. I was feeling exhausted, weak and didn’t have the time nor the energy to dedicate myself to learn and apply this new diet, so I went back to my old traditional Brazilian menu, although I have many more meatless days now. Becoming vegan is still in my plans, but I understand that now is not the time and decided I won’t beat myself up because of that.
16. The Instant Pot is the best friend of the modern housewife
Just throw some meat, seasonings and veggies in there, set to pressure cook, wait 30 minutes and voilà, a delicious healthy meal is ready. BEST.THING.EVER.
17. Networking is a pain but so inspiring
I won’t lie, networking in person is draining, and I’d much rather watch Netflix on my couch with no pants on. But once I drag myself out and get to network, it’s always so inspiring and helpful! I met great people in 2019 who have influenced my paths and inspired many of my goals, and I’ll make a point to remember that every time staying home feels more attractive.
18. It’s not true that your child’s bodily fluids aren’t disgusting
To whoever said that: liar! Eli’s poops after he started eating solids are just as nasty as an adult’s, and I’m gagging every time I change him. The difference is that I love him so much that I endure that with a loving heart, but it’s still gross AF!
19. Trimming the nails and brushing a toddler’s teeth have got to be among the hardest tasks in the world
How hard can it be? It’s like we’re performing an exorcism every single day! Does it ever get easier? And I used to think that trimming my dog’s nails was hard, pff!