Today is just pure magic. It’s not my birthday, but it feels like it. I’ve been anticipating this day as if it were my 13th, 16th, 18th, and 21st birthdays all rolled into one. Today is Judah’s first birthday.
WE DID IT! Oh man, we did it. We made it through the first year. I’m so freaking proud.
I finally understand what people mean when they say the days go by slowly but the years go by fast. It’s the longest shortest time, indeed. In the past six months I found myself dreaming of what life might be like when we got to a year (easier, I had hoped), while simultaneously wanting to stop time so I could drink in all the magic that is his giggle, his eyelashes, his curls, and the feeling of his little arms around my neck.
There is so much I didn’t know. I’m, like, a thousand times smarter … and tougher. But really, I’m waaaaaaay smarter. Like, I didn’t know I could fit in a crib. I totally can. And when he was sick and woke up every 20 minutes, curl up in his crib I did, just so we could make it through the night a little easier.
Parenthood has made me just a little bit wiser (just a teeny, tiny bit). Here are some of the amazing lessons I’ve learned in Judah’s first year of life.
Plan for Everything and Then Just Do It
It takes me an extra 1-2 hours to get ready and get out the door now that I have a child. And that’s really no surprise. Anyone could have guessed that preparing for outings is more complicated when you have a baby.
A friend recently suggested that we meet up for an early morning hike (because, I’m up early with a baby and all). I said, “Sure. Let’s do it!”
He said, “Okay, how’s 6am?”
Are you freaking kidding me? How on Earth am I going to get out the door to meet you at Runyon Canyon by 6am? And with a baby?
Um, no. Sorry.
Each time I prepare Judah and myself for an outing, I think of every possible scenario we might encounter. We might need sunscreen if there is no shade … We might need a change of clothes if he has a poo emergency … We may need an extra (fill in the blank) …
While it’s great to be prepared, there is always a point at which you just have to make a move. We can spend a lifetime pacing the edge of the pool of life thinking about things we might need to make the jump (goggles, flippers, floaties, etc.). There will always be a what if thought that pops into your head at the last minute. Those what if thoughts can turn into excuses for not taking action. Making the most of life means being prepared (by all means, do!), but knowing when to take the plunge and just do it.
If you find you need something along the way, chances are, you’ll run into someone who can help out. If not, you’ll have a fun story to tell about the poo emergency and how you figured it out. It’s all part of the adventure.
Never Say Never
Here is a list of things I thought I’d never do:
- give my baby formula
- let my baby eat nonorganic fruits or vegetables
- walk around the house topless in front of my mom-in-law
- eat cold soup straight from fridge
- buy disposable diapers
- give my child a plastic object that I was not confident was BPA-free
- offer my baby a pacifier
- fear that SS soldiers might storm into my house in the middle of the night and take my husband and kill my child
That last one is a doozy. Don’t worry – I have a great therapist.
Needless to say, it’s been a year of surprises. And not buy disposable diapers? What a snot I was. For reals.
This is actually the short list. I continue to surprise myself.
What I learned is, there are times in our lives when we have to say, “Screw it. I just need to get through this moment [this day, this week, this year, whatever].” So, never say never because it just makes problem solving harder when you have all these arbitrary “rules” you need to adhere to. Not only that, it makes you look like a judgmental jackass. Eventually, you’ll have to eat your words and do the thing you never thought you’d do. Because that’s just how the world works. Karma, man. Karma.
Our Hearts Are Infinite
I never knew love like this. And I’m not talking about the love I have for Jude. I mean, I love him to the moon and back. He’s my little guy. I can’t imagine life without him.
What I’m talking about is the love between two people who’ve been in the trenches together, who’ve cried together, stood across from each other in disbelief, and then crossed that bridge into the shiny new, holding on for dear life. The love I have for Jeremy is shockingly intense. It’s the kind of love that grows where there is strife and joy, struggle and success. It’s the kind of love that is born at 3am when you don’t know your arm from your leg and someone takes your hand and says, “It’s going to be ok. I don’t know the way out of here either, but we’re gonna do this together.”
There are all kinds of situations that could foster this kind of love – soldiers at war, survivors of devastation, students in accelerated art programs – it just so happens that I found it through parenthood with my partner.
He has a way of pointing out my folly and putting things in perspective when I say things like, “This is the worst thing EVER,” while holding my infant son, then two minutes later looking at me with such love and support, as if to say, “I get it. No judgment. You’re doing great.” I will forever be grateful for this.
I thought I knew what deep and true love was. That was only training for the real deal – the love that grows when your heart expands to hold an ocean for your comrade in arms.
Everyone’s Just Doing the Best They Can
In addition, I think everyone has something they are doing exceedingly well. So, it’s in our best interest to take our judgy pants off and cut them a little slack. If we don’t, how can we ever learn from each other?
There is a saying, “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” This is ever, ever true for new parents. In that moment when my three-month-old was screaming while I stood in line at Trader Joe’s, trying to give him a pacifier, bounce him, and shush him, all while waiting to purchase toilet paper and the dinner I’d be eating out of a can, all I could focus on was the people I imagined judging me for being a horrible mom. Because if I was a good mom, my baby wouldn’t be crying.
But this is not true (I know this now). Couldn’t be farther from it. Being a mom is a harrowing experience. It makes you vulnerable and super-human at the same time. And life is just like that, making you think you are invincible then bringing you to your knees.
No matter what we see of another’s experience, it’s best to remind ourselves that we’re looking at them from the outside in. Sure, some of us could do better. I think, however, the kind thing to do is to assume they’re just doing the best they can. Because so are we.
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