One year and one day ago, our son came into our lives after 40 weeks and 5 days of pregnancy and 10 hours of labor. We welcomed him on Father’s Day, making space in our lives for this new little person. Yesterday, we celebrated his first birthday, looking back on a year of challenges, sleep lacking nights, learning and a lot of joy.
At his six month birthday, I said that babies distort time itself. While the changes over the first six months astonished me, the changes in the last six have been even more radical. Last weekend, our friends brought over their four-month-old. She was adorable and smiling, but so different from Sprout. In fact, he seemed to have more in common with our other friend’s two-and-half year old than her, even though they’re closer in age.
In the last six months, Sprout learned to scoot, then crawl, “cruise” with the help of furniture, walk with a helping hand, and as of yesterday, stand independently for short period of time. He was just barely starting solids then; now, he’s had nearly 50 different foods. Now, he eats well with his hands (unless he drops food on purpose) and has some skill with a fork. His spatial and social skills have evolved with his physical ones. He now hides behind me, shuffling back and forth from my left to my right shoulder, and giggling when I pretend I can’t find him.
We’ve certainly had our share of challenges over the past year. In the past week alone, I’ve been absolutely baffled at how to handle getting him to sleep (yes, again!), what to do when we have to skip naps, what to do when he spits out his food, how to put his bike helmet on without a meltdown, how to get his pajamas or diaper on without a wrestling match, and why he’s being mood swingy at any particular point in the day. I frequently think – or just say to him – “I don’t know what you want!” He insists on being the center of attention when I’m getting ready for work, which is alternatively annoying and endearing. His adventurous attitude is wonderful, except when he pulls tissues out of the garbage or literally eats dirt. He regularly amazes and confounds me.
But that’s the beauty of parenthood – it’s always full of change and opportunity. Even if one day has gone badly, there’s always another. While he’s learned so much the first year, so have I! As Sprout has developed his own personality, I’ve tried to teach myself as best how to relate to this little person with a radically different perspective in the world. As he’s developed needs beyond the basics, I’ve learned how to listen to someone who doesn’t have any language skills. (As I’m not a great listener to begin with, this has been particularly hard for me.) I’ve learned to play without expectations about what that may mean, just following his lead. Chris and I have both learned to discuss, compromise and teach each other more than ever, reaffirming our shared values.
Even though only a year has passed, it’s hard to process the memories of life before Sprout. I’ll remember doing things, wonder where he was, and then recall that it happened before he was born. He’s so woven into our lives that while some people see children as restricting them, he’s made our tapestry even bigger and more colorful. True, there are certain things I can’t participate in, like office happy hours or bar skeeball leagues and I do miss them. But there’s so much I get to experience with him.
While I was terrified before he was born – even though we planned everything – I realize now that we were as ready for him as we ever could ever be. That was the perfect moment for him to enter our lives and become part of our family. And I’m so glad he did.