Happy Birthday to us.

I found this list from a year ago, when my son turned one: Things I Learned in the First Year, Feb. 5, 2014

  1. No matter how many gazillions of mothers have come before me, our story is as unique as me and my son. No matter how many books I read, research I’ve done or advice I receive, it still comes down to just us — figuring it out day by day, what works for this baby, this mom and this family.
  2. Whatever the moment, it will always change. The times when I start to feel like “hey, I GOT this!” will surely shift if not in the next instant, then the next hour or the next humbling day –inevitably I will revisit the feeling that I truly know not what the hell I am doing.
  3. Babies cry. Some babies cry a lot. I am not sure if one ever learns to temper the whole body response to this sound. Some babies sleep. Some babies don’t sleep as much. I have learned, however, that you do in fact acclimate to prolonged lack of rest.
  4. I reserve the highest respect, awe and reverence for single parents (and difficult split-parent households.)
  5. Cultivating good communication skills with my partner has never been more important. Neither has expressing gratitude for each other. And the process of learning and growing through this can be really awesome.
  7. You can break into a sweat multiple times a day just trying to wrangle a protesting toddler out of a poop-filled diaper and into a clean one. Why this does not count as “cardio” I do not understand.
  8. There is no limit to the ridiculous tactics I may succumb to just to eek out a smile or a laugh. There also seems no limit to the desperation I can feel when my child cannot be consoled.
  9. “This too shall pass.” All of it. The first precious “mama!”’s, the drooly kisses, the teething, the fever, the tantrum, the baby chub, the marathon nights, the first steps. Be here now.
  10. The issues and insecurities that I thought subconsciously would miraculously vanish at the onset of motherhood, spring anew taking different and starker forms and forcing me to pull from reserves I did not know existed. But I have also learned –
  11. ….I am far, far stronger and more capable than I ever thought was possible.
  12. My most basic human needs will come head to head with my child’s needs on a daily basis. Achieving a harmonious balance of happy baby and happy mom is an art that requires practice. And what my child needs more than anything else is a sane, healthy mom.
  13. Motherhood is an endless opportunity to feel guilty. There will always, always be something I could be doing better or more of. I am the only person who can say, “That is enough. I have done my best today.” (This one has taken 12 months and counting…)
  14. No matter how many times a seasoned parent says, “It goes by so fast, enjoy it while you can!” It is just not possible to understand until you get farther ahead. Time loses its linear quality. There is only this moment and the next moment and all the crazy moments rolled together – the ones that seem undoable and the ones so magical you think you might burst, and the ones when you are simultaneously overwhelmed by 20 conflicting emotions at once and wonder how that is possible; the ones when you are so tired you are not sure if you are really in your body. Whatever month or day it is loses meaning as you are caught up in the cyclone that has picked up life as you knew it and has left you without a chance to catch your breath. Perhaps there is one day when it will set you back down again and maybe that is when you take a deep breath and look around at your world and at your kid and think, “Wow, it all went so fast.” But it’s really hard to get it when you’re in the middle of it.
  15. Love has a new definition. It is a force that exists in every moment and something that is lived hour by hour; in every small task and deep breath; a force that lends super human endurance for the longest nights and days and offers boundless delight in the tiniest things that one else is there to see. Love is not always a feeling. It is a pathological devotion that resides in the bones and blood and that just will never ever ever ever quit.
  16. I simply cannot imagine a day when it will feel any less miraculous, any less profound or any less surreal the possibility that this noisy, messy, vibrant, heartbreakingly beautiful little being came to land in our lives and start living his; barreling his way through this wild and strange universe every day like it holds nothing to at all to fear, nothing to give him but love.

Today my son turned two. Addendum, Feb. 5th, 2015: 

1. NothingMost of 98-99% of what I am freaking out about today is not going to matter in a month’s time much less a year from now.

2. The memory does fade. 365 days separates infant from toddler, toddler from preschooler and eventually my preschooler from a gradeschooler. In a blink, you are learning a brand new set of foreign language instructions and have forgotten all about being thigh-deep in sleep advice books, teething remedies and baby food recipes. But trying really hard to remember those early hazy days, could make me an indispensable support to newer moms. And maybe eventually, a really helpful grandmother and/or mother-in-law.

3. I would not be half the mother I am if it were not for the man I wake up to every morning.

4. When in doubt or despair, go outside and play. Even if it’s raining.

5. Most of your battles are the ones you create between the story you wish were true and the one that is.

6. Show Up for Yourself.

7. Doing your best looks different from one day to the next. Gauge yourself on the ways you are succeeding today.

8. Finally and mostly and always and above all and every day and in all ways:

“Practice acceptance on yourself so you can be kinder with your child. Practice nonjudgmental awareness of your life so you can save your loved ones from the cruelty of your own impossible standards and your hard-hearted disappointment. Practice greater faith and lesser blame. Take this blink of time when you are still stumbling at the gate, still awkward at the tasks, to turn down the sound and tumble freely in a state of grace.” ~Karen Maezen Miller, Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood



One thought on “Happy Birthday to us.

  1. Lovely 🙂 these so closely resemble things that learned (or am learning) from motherhood. You must be a faster learner than me – it took me about 6 years to learn about a happy mum equals a happy child 🙂 One of my favourite sayings about motherhood is that the days are long but the years are short. And that quote at the end…!


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