Tag Archives: parenting

Today: What a difference a year makes.

Oops.  This post is longer than anticipated. 

This time last year, I was wearing a very unattractive, very orthopedic boot thing, having tripped over Grace’s bouncy chair and subsequently broken a toe… just an hour and a half before my family showed up for Mother’s Day brunch at our condo. (Also: My parents were trapped at an airport somewhere, so the guest of honor wasn’t there to be showered with praise and gifts and affection… and to listen to me moan about my toe.)

Ready to party. Or something.

In addition to being temporarily physically crippled, I can’t say I was in the best shape mentally, or whatever, either.  I had been back at work (after a not-so-work-free maternity leave) for a few weeks, was getting up to nurse Grace every couple of hours, couldn’t find anything that fit (nor that matched the boot), and sort of had no idea what I was doing at any given moment.  Having people over to a mostly-clean home, serving mostly-edible food, and not having an entirely unexpected crying episode provoked by a diaper ad, or a cheesy song, or a faint, passing breeze felt like a major, major accomplishment.  

This time last year, I was second-guessing every decision I made, and agonizing over the longterm effects those decisions would have on Grace.  Was she eating too little?  Was she eating too much?  You’ll notice I wasn’t asking myself if she was sleeping too much, because… well… neither of us were sleeping.

I worried I was falling down (no pun intended… but sort of yes, pun intended because I really still can’t believe I tripped over that darn chair) as a wife.  I had no idea how I would manage my work responsibilities and my family responsibilities.  And how, on God’s green earth, was I ever going to get all the laundry done?  Would my body always feel so foreign (and lumpy)?  What would my first work trip away from Grace be like (Fortunately, I didn’t have the capacity at the time to imagine myself using a breast pump in a bathroom stall at the Detroit airport… but now I do.  And you do, too.  Sorry.)?  Would I ever see my friends again (this would likely require staying up past 7 PM)?  Would I ever have anything to talk about besides diaper pails?  Would every single drop-off at daycare feel so heartbreaking?  

It’s taken some time (and I don’t think my toe will ever be the same), but my goodness… What a difference a year makes.  I’m not perfect (you should see what I’m wearing) and life’s not perfect, but so much has changed for the better.  It’s amazing what a little time and confidence (and SLEEP!) can do.

Last weekend I had the chance to celebrate Mother’s Day with my parents and family on Saturday, and with Nick, Grace and Clark on Sunday.  And I felt calm.  And relaxed.  And happy.  And grateful.  And I couldn’t help but notice that life is sort of following the seasons this time around.  Not only is it actually (finally!) Spring, but I’m in the middle of my own transition of sorts.  And it’s full of (I almost said “blooming with”… but I stopped myself) promise and excitement and optimism and a “who knows what might happen?” sort of thing.

At the end of this week (though it’s been in the works for months… aren’t I a good secret keeper? Tell me everything!), I’ll be stepping down from my role at an organization I’ve been with for eight years to be home with Grace.  

I sort of always thought I would work (in the capacity I’ve been used to working, like, in an office).  And I am realizing now, as I make this transition, how much of my ego and self-worth have been tangled up in being busy.  And important.  And in charge.  I’ve also come to see, though, how much of my last eleven or so years have been spent moving from one mini-crisis to the next,  closing out the day with just barely enough energy to be a semi-normal, non-awful person. The good has far outweighed the bad (truly), though, I have loved my work.  I have loved the people I have worked with.  I have loved the people I’ve had the privilege of serving.  I have loved the challenges and the lessons and the surprises.

I know there will be pieces of all this that are not easy, but I also know how lucky I am to have options.  It took a lot of confidence and courage to make this choice, but I wouldn’t be able to make the choice if I didn’t have options.  I know this is not always the case.  Meanwhile, that new boss of mine?  She’s pretty cute.

Also On Tap for Today:

Looking back, what has changed most for you this year?

Today: One year of Grace.

Technically, it’s been a year and five days, but hey.  

Grace turned one last week.  And what a fast, happy, wonderful, challenging, beautiful year it has been.  I snuck into her room at 12:16 last Thursday (she was sound asleep, a rare occurrence) just to see her and watch her and think about that first time we met her at that very same time, on that very same night.

Happy Birthday, Grace!

Yes, that barrette is for real.

 

Becoming and being a mother has been overwhelming in the best possible way.  It has made me tougher and it has made me softer.  It has made me infinitely more in love with the Universe, and it has made me infinitely more worried about things I never paid attention to before.  Like electrical outlets.  And the measles (don’t get me started).  Being Grace’s mother has made me so proud of myself, but it has also put my ego firmly in check.  

Being a parent has made me appreciate my own parents in a way I wish I could have before.  Because I would have been a more grateful, more delightful, better behaved (maybe) child.  I am hopeful that whole “better late than never” thing applies here.  My parents are just the best.  

I used to wonder why people called their children 13-month-olds and 17-month-olds and whatever.  Mostly, I have no idea how people keep track (so math challenged).  But when I think about how much Grace changes each day, let alone each week or month, I kind of get it.  When you’re nearly 33, you really shouldn’t give your age in months.  Because whether you just turned 32, or you almost 33, you’re pretty much the same person developmentally.  In my case: still bad at small talk, still pretty great at color coding, still hate most pants and cooked vegetables, still love checking the mail and taking naps on my yoga mat.

Our 1 year old/12 month old, on the other hand, has become such a person since being the born.   All the changes are both amazing and a tiny bit bittersweet.  

She started talking a few months ago and seems to know new words every few days.  Right now the b-words (not the b-word,  not ever I hope) are her favorites: bath, bubbles, books, baby, and bye.  We’ve practiced some baby sign language (this book has been a great resource) — Grace has mastered the signs for more, eat, milk, all done, and book.  

She has 3 teeth (and 4 on the way), 900% more hair than even two months ago and the teeniest, cutest feet that fit in precisely zero pairs of shoes.  The only thing more confusing than women’s jeans sizing is baby’s shoe sizing.

Grace is starting to let go of our hands and the furniture when standing up, but hasn’t started walking yet.  She likes to dance, climb, crawl, and sneak her way over to the printer and cable box.  She can point to people when we say their names, turn pages in her books, nod when she says “yes,” and wag her finger when someone says “no” (I still don’t know where she learned this — it’s both hilarious and kind of strange). 

She is obsessed with Clark and recently started feeding and kissing and hugging him… and trying to take naps on top of him.  He likes the first three, and tolerates the fourth. 

Grace loves to eat.  She likes being fed, and really enjoys feeding herself.  She has mastered drinking water through a straw, and will soon stop taking a bottle at daycare. I am still breastfeeding her in the morning, evenings, at 2 AM or 3 AM or 4 AM (or whenever Grace feels like it) and on the weekends, but I’ve stopped pumping at work (hallelujah).  I never imagined we’d make it this long (and it hasn’t been easy), but I am grateful.    

We chose to name our baby Grace because we loved the name, but she really is such a grace in our lives.  What a year it has been.

Oh and P.S.: If you’re in the early part of the first year of parenting (or really any time, but especially in the beginning), be gentle and kind with yourself.  You are doing a great job. 

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s changed for your this year?  How many months old are you (just kidding… unless you know…)?