I’m in denial. Sometimes I pick my child up and cradle him up horizontally in my arms as if he just came home from the hospital. Inevitably, this results in a series of varying and understandable whines, whimpers, and a well-executed roll to attempt to get out of this position, onto the ground, and into something life-threatening and dangerous. I’ve been told all of this is a side effect of one horrible, inevitable fact.
My baby is turning one.
Some days I feel as if I can’t remember when I wasn’t a mom. Other days I feel just as shocked as I did that first night home from the hospital with a little human to take of and nobody seemed to object or seem as aghast as I was that I was to be trusted with this newborn. Most days it’s a mixture of both.
Since my last post we decided that moving with a 6-month-old wasn’t quite enough of an adventure, so we not only moved but bought a house*. And let me tell you. Moving with an 11-month-old is not an adventure, but rather an adventure. And by adventure I mean an exercise in how many times I can say, “oh my good god no do not put that in your mouth oh lord where are you going now, no please don’t go that way it will lead to certain death oh lord how many sharp swallowable objects can one family possibly own and why are they all on the floor where the hell is the coffee maker?!” in one hour. The answer is “too many.” But we survived! And we are settled in-ish! And I have a one-year-old.
If nothing else moving afforded me a good lookback on this past year and so, without further ado, here are a few thoughts I’ve had in between my cups of coffee and my unstoppable urge to not unpack so much as to wander from room to room and ponder what needs to be done, rifle through a drawer, get overwhelmed, and then brew more coffee.
I’ve wiggled on some things and held firm on others.
Imagine, for a second, a Soviet-era Ukrainian gymnast. This encapsulates everything I can think of when it comes to parenting. Stay with me here.
Incredible flexibility. You go into parenthood with things you say you would hate or never do, but life happens. You may have a fantasy of a house full only of purely beautiful, wooden toys for your child’s imagination to grow, but then realize that maybe a light-up toy isn’t the end of the world, either. Sometimes your child is hungry outside their set meal/snack times. They grow. A lot. It happens. And sometimes a few Cheerios helps things along, despite you telling your child that in France they don’t snack ever and they are all well-behaved angels. Your child cares not one lick about beautiful organic wooden toys or the well-behaved-non-snacking children of France, and sometimes you just need to be flexible, just like those Ukrainian gymnasts.
- The ability to stand firm and be rigid when you need or want to be. On the flip side of flexibility, if there are things you truly believe in for your family, standing firm is also part of the game. I ended up making almost all of Connor’s food for him and we still don’t do screen time. The things we decided to stay firm on are not the same things you might stand firm on, as with what we decided to be flexible on. And (other than vaccinations, because that is my line I will forever draw in the sand) that’s okay! Those Ukrainian girls stuck landings and were firm as if they were trees in the forest after their routines, and having rigidity mixed with flexibility is what it’s about.
- An underlying look of fear in the eyes that at any moment you may make a mistake of varying magnitude and the repercussions thereafter. Of course, I’m totaling up therapy costs or doctors visits while they were worried about the KGB coming for their families if they didn’t nail the high bar dismount.** But, you know, same thing, right?
Babies do not get less weird with time
Something I’ve said since literally the day Connor was born is that babies are weird. For instance, some babies love swaddling and other (weird) babies like my own apparently would have rather had a hot fork stuck in his eye. As it turns out as babies develop personalities they not only don’t get less weird, they get weirder.
The latest and most easily identifiable example? My child hates ice cream.
You read that right. My child, a human being of my very own loins hates. ice. cream. If he didn’t have carbon copies of my eyes and my husband’s mouth I would swear he was switched at birth with this information.
Sometimes (often) when you ask moms of multiple children about things their answer is something along the lines of, “Well, child 1 did X, child 2 hated X, and child 3…well…um…I think by then I had just given up on even trying to fix the problem because all babies are all different and weird.” So when you see your kid eating corn on the cob like you would eat a freshly-baked chocolate chip cookie, I say let their freak flag fly. Lean into the weirdness. It’s not going away.
There is this universal noise all parents make.
I can’t tell if it’s parents with kids under 5 or all parents, but there is a noise so involuntary I don’t think we even know we do it anymore.
Whenever a baby/toddler rubs their eyes, any adult with children makes this exact same noise. As best as I can type it out, it sounds something like,
Here’s why: this is the golden time to get your child to sleep. A well timed eye-rub-to-crib/nap transition is a thing of pure beauty. Ignored and very soon you will land yourselves in “overtiredland” and life for everyone involved will be miserable. No matter what. I’ve seen a group of adults be looking at a baby, have the baby rub their eyes, the parents all make that exact same noise described above, and the parents of the baby go, “It’s nap time!” and scurry off with nay another word. Every other adult didn’t even bat an eyelash and continued on with their lives as if the other adults that were just standing there and left in a poof of dust Speedy Gonzales-style hadn’t just fled the scene.
Eye rub. “Whuuuu-ohhhh.”
Every. Single. Time.
Babies may be weird, but parents may be weirder.
There is one best birthday party theme for a 1-year-old.
I don’t know why I don’t see this more. I don’t know why I didn’t do this***. But there is one single theme that every single first birthday party should be.
Congratulations! You’re still on the island of parenthood. Go have an adult beverage or three.
The theme we had for Connor’s birthday was “random decorations I picked up at Paper Source and Target we managed to throw up.” It worked!
This motherhood thing? So, so, so worth it.
I can’t get over it. I can’t get over the fact I’m a mom. This little tiny human still seems to trust me despite all evidence pointing to the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing.
There are good days and bad days and days in between. But this motherhood thing? So worth it. Has been since day 1 and still is today.
Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s still some cake left in the fridge.
*Okay, a condo. But it comes with a parking spot, which makes us technical land owners. So…you know. Adulthood. Please see above re: nobody seeming to be shocked at us being old enough to do things like this (have a baby, buy a car, buy a house, etc.) except us.
**Perhaps an exaggeration? This was not my best researched piece and possibly a bit of hyperbole brought on by
too much too little not exactly the right amount of coffee.
***Yes I do. Because I moved this month and I am exhausted and not even close to being one of those amazing put together moms who can plan a themed birthday party for a 1-year-old anyway. You moms who do that are amazing. And the moms like me who can’t? Um, well, I’m starting a support group for that. It’s called “having a glass of wine instead.” We meet on the couch after the baby goes to sleep.