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Guests and Ghosts

2016 has been a whirlwind of a year to say the least. I am a New York City native and I was certain I’d always live there until my husband and I got the pleasant news that I was pregnant and due in May 2016. All of a sudden the public transportation I relied on daily seemed too difficult to imagine navigating with a stroller and newborn. The busyness of the city, which we’d always loved, seemed perfect for us--but not for our baby. Before I knew it, we were packing boxes during my second trimester and headed to Spotsylvania. As much as I love Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg, and the businesses we’ve encountered--it’s been a big adjustment. I’ve realized I’m not the only one experiencing a big adjustment during this season which brings me to my first point.

Baby Will and Imani

1. You are not alone.

It may not seem this way as you pace back and forth rocking a crying baby. As diapers pile up, spit up lands in your hair, and you feed a seemingly insatiable little human--it can seem as though you and your baby are the only ones in this season. My saving grace has been chance meetings with moms and parents who have been there.

When we first arrived here, I was six months pregnant and we had to organize our baby registry at Babies R Us. As I was mulling over my 14 page registry (first time mom!), I got the chance to chat with a man who worked there who had a son. We were able to discuss what he and his wife thought they needed vs. what they actually needed and I was able to make purchases I could feel good about.

My husband is an amazing photographer so as soon as we moved in, he looked into businesses we were familiar with--like co-working spaces. They’re pretty popular in NYC and allow you to work within a community without running the same risks as sitting in a restaurant that has wifi. We were incredibly relieved to attend Open Coffee at the Foundry, with little William in tow. He was well received and I later learned one of the cofounders has a 6 year old who frequents the location. She told me, “It’s tough to be a working mom especially if you have to watch your little one. But it’s important that you are able to take care of your family just as freely as you are able to work. I’ve been there first hand when I brought my daughter as an infant to a boardroom meeting! “My three month old is their youngest entrepreneur yet!

There’s a beautiful sense of relief that comes as mothers recount their first few months with their child(ren). It helps to refresh my mind and help me to see the bigger picture. This newborn/infant season is temporary. I am strong enough to make it through, and every single parent has hard days. You are not the only one dealing with your experience. Finding at least one person you can relate to can bring a world of comfort.

2. The logistics will work out.

My family has seen a slew of different doctors and medical practices since we’ve arrived. This is particularly because when we moved here, I was so close to the point where we’d begin having weekly check-ups for the baby. It can seem overwhelming to look into a home, find a doctor that shares your values, switch over insurance, get a new license, figure out the best grocery store, adjust your dietary needs etc. in a new place. The weight of responsibility can wash over you, leading you to feel like you don’t know where to begin.

My advice would be: don’t look at the entire mountain of tasks-- focus on the one in front of you. Focus on today’s to-do list. Postpartum, I had no idea how to adjust the way I’d been pre-pregnancy and during my pregnancy. I was the planner in my family and I was used to being the one who gets things done around the house. I was surprised at how bad an idea it was to come straight home from the hospital and begin cleaning/lifting things. I was used to working 10+ hour days sometimes and though I worked from home I didn’t realize how much pausing I would have to do. My newborn needed cuddling, changing, swaddling, burping and feeding. Now that he’s three months old, he crawls all over me and wants to “converse” no matter what I am in the middle of. My schedule has changed from wake up, work, sleep, to trying to complete the top 5 tasks of the day. I’ve become extremely flexible and I’ve learned to give myself grace for what I can do in this season of life.

If the laundry isn’t finished, I’ve learned that doesn’t make me a bad wife or mother. It’s something I truly struggled with when we first brought the baby home. I expected to be able to do all the things I’ve always done and handle motherhood simultaneously. I’ve learned to accept help (thanks husband!), pace myself (there’s no award for being the “fastest dish washer”), and take in the moments. I’ve been able to run into moms on walks around my neighborhood, who don’t mind my talkative baby, and give me tips on how to get plugged into mom groups in the area. If you know of any near Spotsylvania, please share in the comments section! I’d love to gain friends who understand how hard it is to write a blog while rocking a baby with your other arm.

Before you know it, the huge mountain will be a small and manageable pile. Don’t lose hope; it’ll all get done eventually.

3. Have fun!

You deserve fun. You deserve to eat out, watch a movie, go for a swim, go sightseeing, play with your children or do whatever it is that brings you joy. In the midst of a busy schedule, the best thing you can do is set aside time to maintain (or regain) your sanity. Take a load off and take a day trip. The last day trip my husband and I took was to City Dock near Sophia St. in downtown Fredericksburg. It was so beautiful watching people paddle boat and kayak with their families. We also tried Benny’s Pizza in downtown Fredericksburg--it was life-changing! It reminded me of Artichoke Pizza Company in New York. As the weather cools down, we look forward to trying the Virginia Aquarium and indoor skydiving. Do you have any recommendations, by the way? I’d love to hear your thoughts on good day trips and outings for a 4 month old!

Consider exploring your new home or visiting neighboring cities. It may even feel nice to go visit back home to see friends or family. The point is to create a balance between the work that needs to get done and the memories that are waiting to be built. It is a great bonding experience to do fun things with your family. It helps remind them that no matter how long the to-do list is, family comes in first every time!

So, if as you read this your child is screaming or drooling on your shoulder, you’re not alone. Baby rashes, colds, long nights, early mornings, and the struggle to find a shirt without spit up (that will stay that way for 24 hours), can seem like never-ending process. On top of all of this you may want to work out, invest in your relationship, check on family, and it can seem laughable that you’d find a place for all of this in your schedule. Remember, you are not alone; you can find comfort that at least one other mom is in the same boat (me!).

One of my favorite quotes is: we are all figuring out this parenting thing day by day. Even the most “put together” mama faces the unexpected because kids are just that unpredictable. The logistics will work out, so take a deep breath and focus on what you can do, not what you think you should be able to do by this point. Accept help and look for resources. And finally remember to have fun! We won’t always be brand new to the area, my son certainly won’t always be an infant, and the best way I’ve found to manage the stress is to pull away and dive into fun experiences! Find a way to make life about more than the work in store for you. Make Monday your day to try a new cafe. Or make Tuesdays your day to check out a new activity in town. Whatever you choose, fun will help you and your family to enjoy this process more.

Coles Family

Imani Coles is an entrepreneur from New York City who endeavors to change the world one young person and one conference at a time. Her life’s goal is to walk alongside others, encourage them, and inspire them to push themselves towards their purpose.

Her heart is to serve others and aid them on their journey through life by connecting them with influential community members, publishing books, blogging, speaking, hosting workshops, and loving others.

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