As long as I had it with me, I knew I could figure it out.
"I'll figure it out"—that's been my unofficial motto for as long as I can remember.
When I was 18 and stopped going to college after a single semester, I figured it out.
When I was 21 and moved by myself to a brand new state with a couple thousand dollars and only a part-time job lined up, I figured it out.
When I was 23, living with my love and roommates and found out I was going to be a mom, I had no choice but to figure it out.
I suppose I thrive in uncertainty. Having the best-laid plans derailed feels like more of a setback than never planning in the first place, so why waste the energy? Besides, there's a certain degree of self-satisfaction that comes from turning lemons into lemonade.
And for as much as I love shopping, pulling together a baby registry more or less gave me hives. How could I possibly know what I would need? We didn't have room for a crib, stroller choices overwhelmed me, and since I had no plans of finding out whether I was having a boy or a girl, the clothing options were limited. In the end, I chose a co-sleeper, a car seat, a baby carrier and a variety of onesies and swaddle blankets. That seemed to suffice.
From the moment my son was born on the bed of our tiny apartment, I knew I was made for this mom gig. That no matter what, like everything else, I'd always figure it out.
For the first 24 hours, he laid on my chest, skin-to-skin, draped in one of the muslin swaddles I'd received. The soft, white blanket, covered with red elephants kept both of us cocooned in this new little world as our breathing became synchronized and steady.
I can still picture his tiny chicken arms poking out the top, marveling at each of his fingernails and tripping out at the fact I somehow grew an entire person who was going to continue growing outside my body. We spent much of the first week parked right there with warm, late September air flowing through the open windows.
On day eight, I worked up the nerve to venture out for the first time. Sure, I was only gearing up for a simple walk around the block, but the world seemed so much bigger, scarier and unpredictable.
I had no idea what to bring along. Moms carried diaper bags, right? Even for walks around the block? Sure. So I tossed a couple diapers, some wipes and that swaddle into a tote bag, wiggled him into the baby carrier and off we went. (Where I planned to change a diaper is beyond me.)
In the months that followed, I don't think I ever left the house without that swaddle. As long as I had it with me, I knew I could figure things out.
It kept him warm as the leaves changed and the weather got chillier.
It gave him privacy as I fumbled through nursing, trying to find the line between "empowered mama who can whip out my boob wherever my baby needs" and "no thank you, I want nothing to do with flashing everyone these totally out of control milk blasters."
It cleaned up spit-up, spilled coffee and diaper malfunctions.
It served as a picnic blanket, a scarf, and a pillow. Once, I even wrapped him in it toga-style because I neglected to refresh the back-up clothes in the diaper bag while on vacation.
Like most moms, I often felt judged when my son was a baby. As a young, unmarried woman raising a biracial kiddo, there seemed to be plenty of openings for others to question my choices and abilities. From the receptionist at the pediatrician's office who chided me for not having warm enough socks to the old ladies in the grocery store who wondered if perhaps he could stop screeching, I was constantly on the lookout for side-eye and unsolicited advice.
But the truth is, I never questioned my choices or abilities. No matter what, with that swaddle blanket I could figure it.
He's 15 now. He's a foot taller than me and sometimes when I hear his voice across the house I mistake it for my partner's. I might have to ask him to hang out with me, but generally, he obliges.
Just this past summer, I found the swaddle, elephants long since faded, in a bin of old clothes. I pulled it out and dropped it in a bin in the mudroom—the one we store things in that we might need for a last-minute adventure.
"Hey, kiddo! Want to take a bike ride with me?" I asked as I tossed the swaddle and some snacks into a backpack.
"Sure. Where to?" he responded.
"Eh, we'll figure it out." And we did. Like always.
A swaddle blanket will come in handy more often than you realize. Find your favorite in the Motherly Shop.
Bebe au Lait Swaddle Blankets are ultra soft, ultra breathable, and perfectly sized for a snug and secure swaddle. The colorful, modern patterns are so stylish that you'll want to use it everywhere and for as long as possible, mama.
Bonus points for being machine-washable and coming in gorgeous patterns.
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