A Year in Review by Heather Bowles
It’s hard to believe the truth of it, but in barely 2 and a half weeks, I will have survived my first year of motherhood. Huzzah for Tabitha and I!
It has certainly had it’s rougher moments. Someday, when my daughter’s preteen peers are trolling the Internet looking for things with which to torment her I may regret saying this, but I did not enjoy the newborn stage of her life. I was in constant fear of dropping her, which nearly happened more than once, and in the first three or four months, I wondered many times if I would ever sleep longer than an hour or feel sated for more than twenty minutes after a meal ever again. It was perhaps the most stressful and tiresome ordeal I’ve ever willingly put myself through.
She soon began showing glimmers of a beautiful spirit in that tiny body, and I knew all my efforts were not for nothing. She is the most beautiful creature I’ve ever laid eyes upon, and the most interesting child I’ve ever had the privilege to know or care for. She has a smile that turns total strangers into goo, and a brilliant sense of humor. When she laughs, I can’t help but laugh with her, no matter how irritated I may be in the moment. She has been my greatest teacher, and she has only yet spoken four words.
So what have I learned?
1. There is no truer adage than this: This too shall pass.
And it passes all too quickly. I’m glad I’ve taken so many pictures. Someday, it will be the only way to remember that smile… so genuine… so unfettered… totally without guile.
2. No matter how many extra diapers, bottles of milk or sets of baby clothes you pack, there will come a day when it is not enough.
There I was, stranded miles from home, with 2 sets of baby clothes soaked through, one bottle of milk left, no heat in my car because I couldn’t keep it running, and the closest family member with even a rudimentary knowledge of the workings of automobiles a forty-five minute drive away. I never want to depend on the kindnesses of strangers like that again, but I sure am glad my girl is such a charmer. At the end of the day, we had survived, and she went straight to sleep within five minutes of getting indoors. It was the easiest nighttime ritual in well over a month.
3. When it comes to beautiful memories, there is no such thing as “oversharing”.
If I’ve annoyed my immediate Facebook community with the baby pictures, so be it. I want to remember it all, and if that’s oversharing, my friends and family can get over it and love me anyway. Or not. Their choice.
4. Babies will routinely surprise you.
When she rolled over, I was ecstatic. When she walked I was shocked. When she talked, I was astounded. I can’t wait to see what else she will do. Whatever it is, it’s bound to be amazing.
5. No parent is perfect. The best we can do is all we can do.
So I didn’t make it a full year of offering Tabitha breastmilk. I stopped last week, and that’s okay. My body is tired, and the amount of time expended at the breast pump was becoming lengthier with a much smaller volume in return. I didn’t always cloth diaper. I let my in-laws smoke around my child during the Christmas holiday because I was too afraid of offending them by asking them to stop in their own home. Would I take these back if I could? Sure. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some regret there. But I’m a work in progress, and if her happiness is any indication, I’m not doing so bad. These little things prepare me for the larger choices that will take place in the years to come, so I can and should forgive my occasional missteps.
6. It’s perfectly okay to be occasionally selfish.
Mommy needs a break every now and then, and that’s just human. If I’m going to be an attentive, engaged parent, my needs must be met, and sometimes that need is for a pedicure.
Cheers, my friends. Here’s to Tabitha’s first year, and the anticipation of many more. We’re going to learn so much together. It’s gonna be great!