There's a learning curve to this mama-ing thing.
It's been almost nine years since my first little one was born, and in the time since it's been nothing but a journey. Your first child is the test run- honestly and truly. By number three it's old hat, but there are still bumps, potholes and wipe outs along the way. Probably it is safe to say that we never really hit expert credentials. It's interesting to think how in life there are many many jobs that are learned and perfected. Being a mama is a constantly changing, constantly moving, constantly constant endeavour.
In the first year of my daughter's life, eight/nine years ago, I learned many things. I had just graduated from college, moved back east from LA, gotten married, turned 23... And here she was. They simply handed her to me and wished me luck. My brand new husband and I stared at her in wonder. Who was this little handful? And she was going to be the life lesson neither of us had ever counted on. Her little eyes and tuft of black hair was our very own undoing. She taught us about baby fevers, teething, cloth diaper washing/using/experiencing, co-sleeping, intuitive parenting, attachment parenting, breastfeeding... You name it. At 23 I looked at this little creature with a mix of awe and amazement. She hurdled me out of my own childhood and into hers with a grace of an atom bomb.
Nine years later, she is still teaching me lesson after lesson. But I count my blessings with her. She is amazing with her sisters (I've had two more daughters since!). She is a best friend, mentor, idol, teacher, baby sitter, and more to the two little ones who follow her around with love in their eyes. I look at her and see all that I've learned along the way. Not only with learning how to be a mother, but with learning about MYSELF as a mother. These little girls teach me every day... what they need me to know on a practical note, but also what is flat out essential to living. They are wiser then I've ever been.
The most essential thing I've learned thus far about being a parent is to trust myself. That little voice that hounds away at you at three am? Yes. That one. The one that takes one look at your child and knows when they have a fever, when they have to use the bathroom, the source of the tantrum being currently thrown. I fear for the years ahead. Parenting teenagers will likely turn every hair on my head a distinct shade of white, just like it did for my own mother. Diapering and spit up, sure, got it. Maybe.