And what a year it has been.
I’ve watched her go from this:
Right now she’s napping in the very same place she was born, on a pile of blankets, where just twelve months ago I clutched a newborn to my breast on a borrowed futon. (I wrote about her home birth last year, if you’re interested).
It has been, without question, the most incredible year of my life so far.
At the same time, it has also been terrifying for the very same reason. I can’t help thinking that there have to be consequences to being granted a year of heaven on earth.
How can it be possible for one human to experience so much bliss and beauty and love in the span of a single year? When the rest of the world is filled with hatred and death and ugliness?
It doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t seem right.
What can I possibly do or give to the world to make up for all this goodness I’ve received?
But these are melancholy reflections for a birthday.
* * *
I never could have imagined that having this child in my life could be so utterly and completely delightful. I wanted a child, and badly; but before I was a parent, I was always hearing about how parenting is full of sacrifice. It’s rewarding, but you have to make all kinds of sacrifices. That’s what everyone told me.
I’m still waiting for the need to make those sacrifices. Maybe the time will come yet; but so far, I haven’t been conscious of having to make a single sacrifice for my child.
I mean, certainly there were times when I found myself awake when I’d rather be sleeping. And two or three times, I had to say no to a really attractive invitation, because I didn’t feel ready to be separated from my baby. Caring for her needs has, at times, been inconvenient. Occasionally, annoying. But a sacrifice? Hardly.
What could possibly be more enjoyable than spending time with this darling? It doesn’t count as a sacrifice if the alternative is better than the thing I’m turning down.
* * *
[Confessional side note: I wrote the first draft of this post two days ago. Yesterday, I must confess, was ridiculous.
Lydia didn’t sleep until three hours past her usual nap time; she peed on the floor three times; she ripped a page out of a library book and she dropped my magazine in the toilet. I had two temper tantrums. That’s right: I did, not her. When I saw the magazine in the toilet I grabbed it out and whipped it at the vanity mirror yelling, “FRIG!!” And when I took off her diaper to potty her and felt that she had just soaked her diaper for the third time that morning, I threw myself dramatically into her pile of blankets going, “RRRRRRRRRRRRR!”
She, thankfully, kept her cool, and looked at me like, “Are you OK, Mom? Do you need to take a chill pill?”
So we definitely still have our moments.]
* * *
So. One year old. My baby.
In the span of one year, she has more than tripled in weight. (From 6 and a half pounds to 22 and a half). An incredible feat. She has gone from being a pink, squirming, half-blind, wailing little creature to a dancing, laughing, willful little person with tastes and preferences and a sense of humour.
She passionately loves her stuffed kangaroo, yogurt, watermelon, and all creatures on four legs (but especially dogs). She loves drinking water, looking at books, playing on the keyboard, grabbing pens out of hands and pockets, fiddling with my glasses, and steam-rolling my face with her body. She gets excited and screams every time she sees another little person: You’re just like me!
Most nights, as soon as she’s fallen asleep next to me, drowsy with milk, I lay her in the three-sided crib against my bed. And most nights, she wakes up at some point, moaning sadly, and comes and crawls back to me, half-asleep, her little blanket trailing behind her on her back, and nestles once more against my breast. I’m always happy to have the extra warmth and cuddles.
She’s still not walking, talking, or signing, which I confess I take as personal failures since I’ve read at least two books on each subject. It seems that just because you read about something, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re any good at applying any of it to your real life. I worry that I spend so much time in my own head, even when we’re together, that I’m failing to teach her the important things. You know, like how to talk to one another.
She’s also not out of diapers yet, like I’d hoped; but at least we’re back to using the potty a couple of times a day, after a terrible two-month potty strike. (I now know she was getting molars – that might have had something to do with it. For several weeks she was sleeping awfully and eating sporadically, and needed constant cuddling and nursing. Now that she’s back to normal we’re getting back on track).
* * *
Thank you, Lydia, for making my life more glorious than I ever could have imagined.
Thank you, God, for hearing my prayers and answering them.
And thanks to my awesome husband and parents and in-laws for making mothering so much easier for me.
It’s been one heck of a year.