He’s one. I can’t help but find myself looking back over this last year and thinking about how much has changed – us, Dylan, everything. It’s truly amazing to think about all that goes into keeping these tiny humans alive – stuff you could never have known until…you do.
…And in no particular order, here’s some of what I’ve learned so far:
1. All the cliches are true. The sleep deprivation is the stuff of legends. You will fall head over heels in love with this tiny stranger. You will talk about poop over dinner. You’ll forget what your life was like…before… There’s a reason they’re cliches.
2. The best word for how I feel when I’m around anyone but Dylan is: scattered. Call it mommy-brain, what have you, but it’s true. I feel (most of the time) fairly capable when the only thing I have to do is be Dylan’s mom. As soon as I have to do that and something else, like hold an adult conversation, or even answer a question that requires more than a yes or a no, the neurons start spazzing out. I later reflect on conversations with friends and wonder if I made any sense at all, and did I remember to ask about them, and their lives? If I didn’t, I’m sorry. It’s not that I don’t care, my brain just doesn’t have the bandwidth to remember that I do care.
3. The hard things keep changing. Everyone talks about how just when you think you’ve discovered your baby’s schedule, it changes. Well, it’s not just their schedules. It’s everything. Just when you get used to the thing that was hard – breastfeeding, solid foods, massive-blowout-diaper-changes – something else comes along to kick your ass again – now he tries to nurse from acrobatic positions, now he won’t be spoonfed (how do you make oatmeal as a finger-food?), now he flips over with poop on his butt, or reaches down to get his hands in it…while I’m changing him on the couch. The sooner you lose your expectations about how things “should” be, the easier it gets.
4. Baby development is not linear. Be it sleep, or “milestones,” it often feels like a case of 2 steps forward, 10 steps…to the left. I wish someone had told me about sleep regressions. It would have saved me at least a few weeks of despair and feeling like a complete and utter failure as a parent. And it seems you often don’t know what they’re going through, until they’re done going through it. Why is he fussy/whiny/clingy/waking up all night? Oh, he was getting a new tooth. Oh, he was learning to crawl. Oh, he just needed to burp. Or fart.
5. My mom was right. I knew this already, but with so many things, I just tell her, “I get it now.” I’m proud to be this little guy’s mom. He’s absolutely the best thing I’ve ever done. No question. Nothing changes your life as profoundly as having a child. Nothing else is quite the watershed moment of …before him, and after him. I miss him when he actually sleeps well and long, which is rare. We end up looking at slideshows of his photos after we’ve put him to bed (I’m a big sap, I know, but it’s my husband, too!). I get teary-eyed thinking about the boy, teenager, young man he’ll become; the day he’ll be taller than me. So I try really hard, even at 3 am, not to wish away these days just to get to a future where he might be sleeping through the night. I already know I will miss those middle of the night snuggles, so I just kiss the top of his warm, sweet head, and take a deep breath, and enjoy the moment.
A dear friend told me that the first birthday is not so much for the child, but a celebration for the parents, for making it through the first year. If so, hurray for all of us!