And just like that, my baby is one year old.
We had a little gathering on the weekend. Family came into town, some friends came over, furniture was moved, decorations were hung, a kiddie pool was bought, inflated and filled, champagne was popped, gifts were opened, cake was smashed.
Later that evening, we sat around, relieved a few balloons of their helium and rehashed some of Donald Trump’s best (worst) lines in chipmunk voices. The whole day was a riot and it felt like we marked the occasion well with our little group of guests, our crazy decorations, our inappropriately (and dangerously) over-sized kiddie pool and our multiple desserts.
But today, three days later, the floor has been swept (by someone else, clearly) and the remaining balloons bob awkwardly at shoulder height. And I’m at work, shoving kale salad into my mouth while hunched over my iphone, jotting this down in the Notes app, wondering if I will have time later to copy and paste and post it or if I will be too sleepy from trying not to feel like I’m missing out by not being with my kid on his first birthday.
And let me tell you, I’m feeling lots of feels. So either close your browser now or humour me by continuing to read, cause this right here… this is gonna be a sappy one.
Here are some of the feelings I’m a-feeling:
I’m feeling reflective about the experience of my son’s birth.
Childbirth is a wild ride, no matter how it unfolds. His was not exactly as hoped for in that we didn’t get to go to the hippie birthing centre. I was induced at a hospital but it felt safe, it was not a prolonged process, and we felt well cared for.
The experience of meeting my baby was beyond what my mind had been capable of imagining.
And the experience of leaving the hospital 3 hours after giving birth, driving home on the slowest possible streets in the middle of the night, and spending the remaining hours before sunrise staring at him are memories I hold tightly in my heart.
Another highlight of that day was later eating an entire pizza by myself. It was a great day for many reasons.
I’m feeling some relief that the first year is over.
For me, the conclusion of Year One is not like that feeling after a vacation where you cast your mind back and think, “I wish today were the first day and it was all ahead of me.” I don’t feel that way. Probably the only thing I’m not feeling today.
The first year was a bit of a mindf*ck. Everything is so foreign. Doing anything for the first time is exponentially more difficult than doing anything for the second/third/etc time. Swaddles and SIDS risk and soothers, oh my! Stumbling blindly through “gentle” sleep training, fretting about weigh-ins (our guy is on the slim side… against all odds), worrying about choking on solid foods, and on and on.
We chose to cart our tiny human to far-flung ports of call. His first plane ride at 3 months and going cross-country at 5 months were pretty chill. Begging my mom to drive 45 minutes in rush-hour to spend a million dollars on zinc-based baby sunscreen the night before we flew to South America was less chill. Six weeks in Spain was glorious but at times required a level of planning and mental effort that I’m pretty sure pre-qualifies me for a job at NASA.
Obviously, there will be a great many firsts ahead of us as parents. And some are probably going to be a lot harder. But will any given year include so many damn firsts? I doubt it. Firsts are exciting. They can also feel exhausting. I’m glad we’ve got the first year under our belts.
A few days ago, a family friend asked to borrow my copy of the Baby-Led Weaning book and asked for some tips on getting her 6-month old started with solid foods. And you know what? Giving her that advice made me feel like f*cking Gandalf. Cause I’ve lived through that first year of parenting and I know some shit and that feels good.
I’m feeling loved and supported by my mom-fia.
I don’t like to be exclusionary, and I am eager to note that I have felt supported by people from all walks of life over the past year. But… other moms have given me a special brand of support that requires no request or explanation. These other moms are my mom-fia. My theory goes that each mother is the Don Corleone of her own mom-fia.
Dads get it… 95%. But it’s that last 5% that is the kicker. It’s the last 5% of understanding that makes you feel less alone when you are crying in a glider at 4am, trying to cast a sleep spell on your teething little one because you’ve just realized he’s too old to be soothed by nursing. Dads will understand that this is the loss of a convenient trick. But moms will understand in their bones that this also marks a change in your bond as mother and child. And that maybe you need to mourn that loss a little.
I’m feeling lucky to get to be the mother of my son.
My guy is a wild one, and I cherish that about him. Every morning, after lying in bed with me to nurse, he crawls to the end of the bed, turns around so his feet are over the edge and he’s on his tummy facing me. Then he repels down the side of the bed, making gleeful shrieks along the way. Upon landing, he often reaches up over his head and claps his hands, ever his own biggest fan. #hegetsitfromhismama
He also has a sense of humour. He pretends to chase us and then laughs so hard that he has to stop and be still while he catches his breath. He takes dance breaks (whether or not there is music playing) while he’s crawling around the house. I feel lucky to get to spend so much time with this funny, quirky, fearless little man.
So, to my boy: Happy birthday!
You are a spirited little maniac and I’m thrilled to be your “ma-ma-ma,” as you call me. You are loved immensely, deeply, and oh so fiercely.
But back to me.
I heard somewhere that being a mother is like wearing your heart on the outside of your body. I have felt that to be true during each one of the past 365 days. And living one year, moderately successfully, with your heart wandering around outside of your body like a f*cking medical miracle warrants some celebration. And maybe some tears for various reasons that I declare to be valid.
Gonna go eat an entire pizza. Cause it’s my effing birthing day.