Nocturnal Admissions

I’m making assumptions, but most parents I know *love* bedtime. Some enjoy reading stories and cuddling, others not-so-much. But everyone I’ve ever spoken to loves their children more when they’re asleep. It’s time for grown-ups to do everything associated with the remains of the day: empty and re-load the dishwasher, sort and fold laundry (and in our case, never put it away and live out of baskets for another week), open mail, toot around on the internet. It’s hallowed, sacred time, time when as a parent of a younger child you wondered what exactly you *did* all night before you had kids.

I write these words wistfully, because my daughter does not go to bed easily. In fact, each night my husband and I trade who puts her to bed because, frankly, there is nothing more tiring at the end of the day than dealing with the not-wanting-to-go-to-bed dance. I’ve read every article possible on bedtime routines. I pepper my friends with thoughts on how to get Miss Red to go to bed, but it is a mighty battle. Every. Single. Night.

How mighty? We are lucky – actually happy – if she falls asleep by 9:30 p.m. A few times she’s made it to 11:30, and once until midnight. During those later adventures I myself was already asleep, my husband patiently dealing with her tears and frustration. I might add that while I don’t think there should be medals in parenting, he deserves one for never raising his voice during those nighttime battles.

“Some people don’t need as much sleep,” our family physician shared with us when we bemoaned the small hours of sleep Miss Red clocked each night. And it’s true. My mother-in-law is from a long line of people who get by – and do quite well – on a small amount of sleep. Really, it’s a skill that could help her out in adulthood.

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When I was a child, and until recently, I had troubles falling asleep. I think my natural clock would have me going to bed around midnight and waking up around nine. Yes, I would love nine hours of sleep. Alas, the Midwestern clock has different standards of when work starts. What kept me awake as a child? Lots of anxious thoughts. Too boring to go into, but so many “what ifs” and memories of small injustices or silly things said, done or not done. Typical stuff. It wasn’t until I started practicing yoga regularly and learned some simple breathing techniques that sleep hasn’t been a constant struggle.

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So my daughter, this huge bag of recessive genes – red, curly hair, flat feet, dimples – also got my not-wanting-to-fall-asleep gene. Or maybe it’s the doesn’t-need-as-much-sleep gene she got from her dimpled grandmother.

Image

I do my best to see the positives in the bedtime battles – I get to see her for many hours at night, versus many of my friends who see their kids for a sliver of time before bedtime. With four hours or so together each night, there’s plenty of time to eat dinner as a family, play games, read, hang out and watch a show. No rush. No feeling that we aren’t seeing enough of one another.

I only find myself rushing to have that sacred alone time. That unknown quiet, where magical things such as crafts, hobbies and general house keeping can happen. It’s at times like these, which means every night, that my husband and I often remark that we have no idea how we would in fact have had another child given the demands of this one. But I know we would have been just fine.

My husband, an artist, steals time for himself until late each night, staying up until midnight or later making art. I often head to bed with an awake four-year-old, her talking or playing heard over the baby monitor as I read for a few minutes before I tackle my own sleep demons.

Tit for Tat

My husband and I, while sedentary bookworms at heart, like to do stuff. In fact, one of us likes to leave the house each night – to exercise, go to the library, a coffee shop, or even run errands. When Miss Red was an infant and we were both home with her, we gave one another an hour or two each day to leave the house – a necessity to prevent insanity.

Art by Colin Holden

Our schedules are pretty standard these days – one day a week CH has choir, I hit a yoga class one night a week, we both exercise one additional night each, and he goes out each Thursday night with other friends.

What has always been important to us is equality in parenting. Nothing can ever be equal, but we each do our best to spend equal amounts of time with Miss Red and give one another equal amounts of time away. Thus, we take turns bathing her and putting her to sleep, getting up in the middle of the night, and sleeping in on the weekends. We like it, and it works for us. But what can sometimes emerge is a “tit for tat” mentality that we are both guilty of – the “I gave her a bath last time, so it’s your turn,” or “you were gone all day, so I’m going to check out tonight.” Again, it mostly works and there are no hard feelings, but I know at some point that will disappear – as Miss Red becomes more independent and there isn’t so much management of her needs.

For now, even with hiccups, it works. Does something like this work for you?

– MD

New Year

The New Year. I love it. I love the deep breath at the end of the holidays. I love making resolutions. I love the vast stretch of time ahead, the (mostly) blank calendar. I love that the days are getting longer.

I love looking back at the past year, figuring out what went right and thinking through the things I’d like to change and improve upon. 2010 was far and away the best year I’ve ever had. So many things I set out to do at the start of the year was realized. Nope, I didn’t lose 50 pounds, but what I gained was infinitely more valuable:

I made new friends. I had some of the best times of my life.

I took a family vacation to a lake shaped like a heart….

…and played in the snow.

I hosted three parties, after years and years of lacking the confidence.

I made new connections. I stood up for myself when it really mattered.

I watched my baby turn one…

…and into a happy, strong-willed, smart, and delightfully goofy little big girl.

I quite literally went from the couch to running a 5k.

I celebrated my 10 year dating and 5 year wedding anniversaries with my husband.

At my December birthday party, I was presented with a donut tree. Yeah.

The truth is, I still have a long way to go. My holiday running hiatus was a bad idea and poorly timed. I wasted too much time doing stupid stuff on my addictive phone. That baby in the bar? Mine. I said some things I wish I hadn’t because I have no filter. Yeah, I probably drank too much. But you know what? I don’t care. I had FUN.

No regrets.

Happy New Year, to you and yours.

– ALW

The Question

It started when we got married.  Before, really, since we’d been together so long.  That age old question: “When are you going to have kids?”

It’s a delicate question, especially when a couple doesn’t have any kids.  Maybe they’re trying and haven’t been successful, maybe there have been losses, maybe they don’t want kids at all.  The curious, in general, are easily placated.  

The frequency and persistence of The Question have picked up considerably since our first.  Now that we have one, and people are sure that not only do we want kids but that we’re able to have them, it seems as if everyone wants to know when – and if – we’ll have another.  

Good question.  

Not Unlike The Situation, The Question.

I guess I always thought that if I had one, I’d want another, but the secret and honest truth is that I don’t know if I do.  I’m happy.  I’m comfortable.  My house is too small, our budget is too tight.  We have no family in town to help us out, to give us a night off or be there quickly in a pinch.

Training my daughter to sleep took months and months and MONTHS, and now?  Everyone in my house is sleeping through the night.  We are out of the infancy stage, which frankly – please don’t judge me – I found boring.  My 20-month daughter’s vocabulary is exploding, and being able to have a conversation with her is a relief.  Our days at home together have become a joy – actually fun, instead of hours of long, hard work that drains me.  I hated the crawling stage, I couldn’t wait for my daughter to hold her own bottle.  

I feel like I hit the jackpot.  My daughter is (in my humble opinion) sweet, beautiful, smart, and well-behaved.  She is happy to hang out and color while we have drinks with our friends.  She’s flexible and hilarious.  

I know it sounds selfish to say this, but after three pregnancies and struggling to find our footing in the first year, I feel like I finally have my life back.  It feels magical.  We have friends from all walks of our life – with kids and without – and it’s working!  My sweet girl isn’t cramping our style, she’s enhancing and expanding the great life we had before she came along.  It feels like the best of all worlds.  And for the first time in a really long time, I feel surrounded by a really great and diverse group of friends.  Life is fun again.  My daughter is thriving, and so am I.  

I am really, truly happy.

But I can’t help but feel that I’m being selfish.  Maybe when life settles down after a second baby – or at least once we’re out of that first year – I could have this magic back.  I’m frankly not getting any younger – and in a few more years (good god, probably less than that) it might be really hard to have another.  What if I’m squandering my chance for the family I’ve always wanted?  What if that family IS what I really want and I’m just blinded by the easy fun I’m having right now?

I can’t help but think about the worst case scenario.  I’ve lived a worst-case scenario.  What if something happens to my only baby, my precious girl, and I’m left alone and it’s too late?  The thought of something horrible happening to my beloved daughter makes me want to irrationally fill my tiny house with babies.

What if only children just aren’t as happy?  New research shows that they are, but who knows? If all my hopes and dreams rest on my daughter, is that too much pressure?  Is the love/hate of a sibling one of life’s quintessential experiences?

What about that second baby that I know I’ll fall madly in love with – am I letting him or her down?  If I have that baby, I know I won’t regret it.  Yes, I’ll find my new kid just as smart and beautiful and irresistible as my daughter and maybe I’ll even wonder how I ever got along before.  Poor example I KNOW, but I got a second dog once.  I won’t take him back now that he’s here, but damn sometimes I wish I had a do-over (anyone interested in a terrier that just. Will. Not. Stop. Ever?).  No, I won’t offer my second baby up on this blog if it’s hard (and it will be), but haven’t you ever wished you had just taken the other road?  Deep down?  Can any of us really admit that we didn’t have at least have one tiny moment with that first baby when we whispered to ourselves, “Oh my god, what have I done??”

The truth is, when I picture my family in 10 or 20 or 30 years, I picture us with more than one child.  The picture in my head is lovely and we’re all happy and I weigh 20 pounds less.  Is that really what I want?  And to what extent do I set aside my happiness now for the fantasy?  We never really get the fantasy…right?  What if right now is the fantasy?  

One day over coffee, MD told me that there is no right or wrong – the right decision is whatever works for me and for my family.  But what works for us?  I just don’t know.

Here’s what I do know: I want to be happy.  I want my family to be happy.  I want to look back and have no regrets.  I want to have fun!  I want to be comfortable.  I want to be a good person.  I don’t want to be selfish.  I don’t want to let anyone down.  

My answer to The Question?  I just don’t have one.  

– ALW

Entitled

I wrote last week that I’ve been traveling and working long hours at my job. It’s OK, because I’m still in love with my work, and most importantly (to me, at least), am passionate about what I’m working for.

In the middle of my travels I was able to spend two nights at my parents’ house in Milwaukee. The same ranch house I lived in for six years before I left for college and never moved back to. One night when I got back around 9 p.m. from a long day of production, I sat in the living room as my mother made me a lovely necklace. In her empty-nesting years she has thrown herself back into crafting – sewing, quilting, jewelry making, flower arranging – and it’s nice to see her enjoying her evenings. I was talking about my day, sharing stories and more. At one point, I said that while I was so happy at work, I wondered if it was an issue that I didn’t have a great title, like “Manager” or “Director.” I have plenty of friends who reached these titles in their late 20s or early 30s, and now 32 and happily nestled into a job I love, know that I won’t get that title. At my organization there is no stepping into a larger title or role. I can grow my skill set and expand what I’m doing, but I won’t get “Sr.” or anything other higher designation now that I’m in a union. It doesn’t work like that.

In the middle of stringing the necklace, not even looking up, my mom said, “Honey, you are 32, have a toddler and work full time. You can’t have that title.” And while I know it’s true, I have been gnashing over the truth of that. Why do titles matter? Why do they matter to me? As someone who has been fairly career-oriented, I was always striving for next-next-next. Pushing, pushing, pushing. I clearly remember sitting in a job interview 7 years ago and when asked the dubious, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” question, answering quite clearly, “As the Marketing Director of a non-profit.” Somewhat gutsy, given that the current Marketing Director of the non-profit I was interviewing at was sitting in the same room and she was new to the job herself. But that’s fine ‘cause we’re friends now.

This hangs in my office. By These Are Things.

So here I am, 32, and not a director. When RBVH and I finally met up this last weekend (I was the one who fell asleep and missed our coffee date – yeesh), she and I shared the same concerns. Should we be pushing, pushing, pushing for more?

But maybe what I’m not ready to say aloud – but guess what world? – I can say it on the internet! – is that I’m OK with not having the title. It’s not that I don’t think I could handle what came along with it, it’s that I like the other titles I (sometimes) come with: mother, wife, friend, partner, creator, (fledging) runner. Why? Because I’ve found my center-for-now. Sure, it gets wacky, laundry never gets put away, I miss having Fridays with my toddler, but I’m able to be all of the parts of me while at my current job.

I guess you’ll just have to call me Lucky.

– MD

Frazzle Rock

I’ve been working a lot of hours lately. That’s relative, since I’m not a physician or splitting the atom, but it has been a lot. I’m rounding into month five at my new job and I love it. Love, love, love it. I feel very fortunate to have found a place I will happily hang my hat. Thank you, Universe.

But part of my new job is occasionally, those occasions being now, traveling around our fair state. I’ve been putting serious miles on our car, drinking Diet Dr. Pepper and listening to the various Wisconsin Public Radio stations. This has meant more than a few nights away from my family. My husband has graciously taken on the added duties of solo-parenting, a task he never grumbles about.

Wisconsin!

In fact, let me take a moment to thank him over the internet for being such a great dad and partner. He doesn’t mind taking on more parenting because he sees that I’m happier, which makes our whole family happier and he’s happy for me and our family. But thanks nonetheless, because doing double duty even with our lovely toddler is well, doing double duty while I’m driving hundreds of miles every week and arriving for 6 a.m. production calls. And he’s really cute, too!

How has this changed our lives? Thankfully, our toddler hasn’t noticed a difference. She started going to daycare full-time, but it’s so awesome and fun I think she’s happier going five days a week.

But I’m starting to feel the difference. I’m more frazzled. Fridays at home with her meant a lot of activities, but those activities often included meeting friends for coffee or lunch at a child-friendly location, versus trying to schedule lunches or coffee a month in advance, or as I embarrassingly did this weekend, miss a coffee date with dear RBVH because I fell asleep on the couch. Ouch.

I’m happier, but the new job has also meant a few cancelled vacations and missed parties. There was a square dance I missed, a few planned getaways and other events as they’ve emerged.

I even missed an annual trip to northern Wisconsin, but was able to attend a great clothing swap last night, filled with lovely women, hosted by a fantastic woman. We laughed and ate her homemade ricotta on pumpkin muffins and chocolate-drizzled biscotti. We sorted through clothing and offered suggestions to others of new outfits. I got to see EKR in person versus via Twitter. We had a really nice time.

One exchange stuck with me for the rest of the night and today. One woman, showing me a dress shirt, asked how I needed to dress for work. “I need to dress nicely,” I replied. [Side note: dressing “nicely” in the Midwest comes in various forms, but overall, I need to look professional. Even if I’m in jeans, it needs to be classy.] She handed me a shirt that didn’t fit, and then asked “who else here works in an office?” and looking around, we realized that only one other woman worked at an office. The other women in attendance all worked – some as full-time moms, childcare providers, at the local food coop and a variety of other locations – but I was possibly the only person there who worked in an office, full time, and needed to dress in a traditional office way.

It made me melancholy for the rest of the night.

Over dinner my husband asked about the swap and I shared my feelings with him. Again, as if I almost had to convince myself, I said “I don’t want to be a stay-at-home-mom, right?” And I don’t. I didn’t want to before I had a baby, while I was pregnant or even after I had Lil’ Miss Red. I love working. I’m good at it, too. I love meeting people and working with situations and words and creating. I absolutely know that this is part of parenting, but maybe I’m just not wired that way.

But I used to have extra time with my daughter, where she recently started to call it a “mama day.” And while I loved the time with her, I can look back and say how exhausting it was. By the time my husband came home on Friday nights I felt zapped. Done. Over. I usually left the house to run a few errands (what becomes “free time” once you have children) to re-set. I honestly don’t know how full-time parents manage to engage their children so creatively. I think our childcare provider was crafted by Greek Gods, she with her imagination, patience and resourcefulness. I had to plan each fun activity with my daughter. My creativity tends to emerge in my work. My time with her was focused and while I didn’t develop fun art projects for her to explore, I did, and still do, give her (mostly) undivided attention as much as possible, in the form of reading books, playing cars, or dancing.

I often think of something LHW said to me three winters ago when she was hosting a swap. I was pregnant and looking for post-baby wear. We were talking about my (now previous) job and my question as to whether or not I’d ever want to stay home.

“M, it’s different for you, you have a career,” she said. “And whatever you decide, it’s the best decision for your family. Even if you change your mind.”

So while I’m happier at work, I am frazzled and sometimes tears are involved. Tears for no more Fridays at home, tears for long work days, tears for the new and exciting demands placed on me, tears when I think about the state of the laundry, tears that I now forget things, like minor to-dos, notes and coffee dates.

It is what it is and it’s wonderful. Even if I change my mind.

–       MD

Kindergarten

There was a day this past year that I had been waiting to pass since almost the day that my son H was born.  For Four solid years, I waited for the day of the big test, the test that would give us some finality.  A decision about whether H would go to Kindergarten.

I think it’s safe to say that Most parents start feeling a bit of angst when their child reaches the age of four.  Four is this big age – toddler-hood is over, preschool has begun and the day that school begins is imminent.  School.  It’s that big word that invokes in most people images of the school bus, little kids in backpacks, and some old fashioned RRR, mixed with creativity, and well – being Big.  It’s that last word – the Big word – that provides the parenthood angst.

Is she really Big enough?  Can he handle school?  Will he get lost in the crowd?  Will she listen to the teacher?  Will he make friends?  Really the question is – is my Kid really that Big?  Am I the parent of a little kid or a Big kid?  And really, How did This happen?

It’s safe to say that I remember most every day of H’s childhood.  I remember the crying, the kicking phase, the cuddling phase, the digger phase.  I remember the waking up in the middle of the night (phase, thankfully).  I remember the needing milk 24 hours a day (long) phase, the new to big-brotherhood phase, the spitting his food out after chewing it phase, the not wanting to wear shoes phase (still in that one).  And now we’ve reached the learning phase of H’s life.  I feel most everyone one of the days of every one of these phases, probably because I’ve had to go through them, every single one of them, with him.  Because first it was the being a mom of a kid who wanted milk 24 hours a day phase, and then the being the a mom of the new big-brotherhood phase, and being the mom of the kid who refuses to pick up his toys phase.  

So for what I had been anxiously waiting for Four solid years?   I knew at the age of four, we would finally have the option to test our little guy to see if he could go to school with all of his peers.  Born just seven days past the school deadline, H had always been a part of the crowd just months older than him, kids who were 5 by September 1.  I know that H was ready, and that I was ready.  I didn’t feel the angst of the parent wondering how we got there.  I KNOW how we got there.  And we were all ready to move on, more forward, move into the world of Big.  

H passed his big Test (that big scary day for which I had waited and waited and waited) with flying colors, and the sweet, friendly teacher who tested him laughed as we sat down on the ittybitty chairs to go over his “results”  – “Wow” she said “Your little guy is quite the sponge.”  Sponge he was, and sponge he is.

Backpack!

Sure, I haven’t 100% successfully moved into this next phase of motherhood.   Yep, while other moms and dads cried on the first day of school, anxious about how it all crept up on them, I rejoiced, smile, laughed with my little guy who jumped onto the bus like he had done it a thousand times (with one last quick security hug, of course).   Still, every once in awhile, I question whether he will be able to negotiate the often painful world of friendships (“mom, no one played with me on the playground today.  Everyone said no”).  I wonder if he’ll ever outgrow his inability to just jump up an and answer the question without raising his hand, or whether he’ll figure out how to properly spell all of the words on his “word wall.”

On the bus.

But every new phase brings new worries, new challenges, new fun.  I feel confident that we’ll figure it out.  Odd to say, but in the big checklist of life, excited to say – Toddler-hood?  Check!

– EC

Adventures in Bedtime

Lil’ Miss Red is funny, caring and lovable. She smiles, tells us silly statements and is a joy to be around. Except for bedtime. Then she’s the Girl Who Cries Wolf.

Her history of sleep has been, like most children, rocky. As an infant she was nocturnal and her wakeful period was from 7 p.m. until midnight or 1 a.m., when she would still get up one or two times during the night to eat and I had a 5:30 a.m. wakeup call to pump.

She started sleeping through the night, 75% of the time, when she was a little more than a year old. We had a nice routine and she’d happily talk to herself, sometimes for upwards of an hour, in her crib, with all of the lights out and the door closed. When she didn’t sleep through the night it was usually related to teething or sickness and within a week she’d be back to her usual pattern.

That was one year ago.

Now, at two, Lil’ Miss Red has a new plan. To get out of going to sleep. Enter her new tactics:

  • Throwing her pjs away. She has placed them in both the trashcan and her diaper genie.
  • Crying “help me.”
  • Crying “I have a poopy diaper.”
  • Crying “hey mama” or “hey dada” repeatedly.
  • New iterations of how far the door can be open. “Open the doorway” and “not dark” are new calls from the crib.

Any of the above combinations can go on for an hour. With an 8 p.m. bedtime, this means that she sometimes doesn’t fall asleep until 9, or even 9:30 p.m. A few weeks ago I went in after 9 and insisted that all of her friends were asleep. “Wake them up,” was her response.

Oh sure, we do the various tactics of getting ready for bed. No TV an hour before bedtime, reading books, giving her ample verbal announcements about changing clothes, offering her an option of who will sing her songs, letting her pick said songs as we rock her, etc.

Her stubbornness is starting to shift to naps, too. We’ve found that one of the ways she’ll at least go into her crib is by convincing her that everyone is “taking a rest.” We’ve even started singing a favorite song, courtesy of Sesame Street. The Caribbean back beat really helps.

Nearly two years ago I ended my maternity leave and I quipped that the key to work/life balance was sleep. Not much and a little of everything has changed since then.

– MD

What’s for dinner

I love to cook.  I find it relaxing, fulfilling, and exciting.  I love to put new flavors together, to start from scratch, to learn new things.  I love listening to onions sizzling in butter, turning our raw vegetables into healthy meals, and above all, I love eating the finished product.

I’m not a natural.  Any skill that I have has come from practice, from trial and error.  I once had a ill-conceived plan to go to culinary school, but thankfully it didn’t work out.  It would have been a disaster.

These days, I’m working harder than ever in the kitchen, and I’m struggling.  I want so badly to get dinner on the table so my little family of three can sit down and eat together.

I’m failing miserably.  

I think part of the problem is that I’m a closet food snob, and I’m simply not happy with just anything for dinner.  I’ve always prepped for dinner by pouring over cookbooks, considering what, exactly, it is that I would like to sit down and savor.  

Another problem is that we are a family that doesn’t eat meat at home.  We start with raw vegetables from our Community Supported Agriculture box, and buy very few processed foods.  These things can make conjuring up a quick and nutritionally complete meal difficult.  

My daughter comes home from daycare hungry.  She’s a picky eater.  She goes to bed early.  

And I only work three days a week!  How, exactly, do other families do it??

Some nights, I bite off more than any of us can chew, and preparing dinner takes forever.  We end up eating way after her bedtime, and by then, she’s too worked up, tired, and crabby to eat anything.  Some nights, she doesn’t want to touch what I’ve made and this, after a night of furious scrambling in the kitchen, makes me feel tired and crabby myself.

Other nights, I hear my daughter and husband laughing in the other room while I struggle to make a dinner that my girl won’t want to touch with a ten foot pole, and I wonder, “What’s the point?”  She’d be perfectly happy to sit down with some crackers and peanut butter – as long as they’re on her Elmo place mat.

Just like mom used to make. Credit: Nola Lopez for The New York Times

But the point is that I want to share good and nutritious food with my daughter.  I hate the idea of her eating convenience foods alone (of course, we’re sitting with her – but we’re not eating) while my husband and I enjoy a delicious and homemade dinner later.  I want to be a “family dinner” kind of family – with all the benefits that come along with that, especially in the years to come.  I want her to eat seasonally with us, to see the vegetables she picks out at our farm transformed into dinner on her plate.  I want to talk about our day and to laugh and make silly faces at each other as the sun sets on the workday.

Last night, I didn’t get dinner on the table before my daughter’s bedtime.  I made dinner for my husband and I after she went to bed.  But for the first time, I managed to think and work ahead.  Today, black bean soup is simmering in the crock pot, hot and ready for us when we arrive home.  

– ALW

A Year of Parenting

Fall always brings out the reflective and nostalgic in me. Now this fall, for the first time, I reflect on my first year of being a mama.

Pregnancy. Childbirth. Sleepless nights. Your child’s laughter. Parenthood. It all changes you from the tips of your toes to deep in your soul.

Looking back at my year as a mama, here are a few bits of what I have learned:

1. Sleepless nights suck.

2. Laughter is key.

3. But sometimes you just have to cry it out.

4. I knew my husband was amazing before we were parents. I have since learned that he is an outstanding dad. My son is so lucky to have him as his Papa. So am I.

5. Snuggling my baby, even in the middle of the night, makes my heart full.

6. Watching my husband put my child to bed after I tried and failed is the best feeling of relief and yet it will make me sigh every time.

7. I will always be there for my child. As in ALWAYS, no exception.

8. Friends make it all so much easier. Sharing the tales of parenting reminds me that the crazy, hard moments are actually normal.

9. People are so kind and so generous to a new mama and a new family. I seize the opportunity to pay it forward.

10.  Watching my child experience wonderment – through food, music, experience – is the most uninhibited, organic and, usually, joyful sight.

11.  I never knew the feeling of selflessness until I had a child.

12.  What and who I think I can count on will always surprise me.

13.  Finding community of mamas was harder than I thought and yet, turned up when I least expected it and needed it most.

14.  I have found that there are other ways to trust my body after pregnancy. And no, I did not find it in childbirth.

15.  C-sections suck.

16.  Bodies are amazing. My body (and me) grew a human. Then it produced food for said human. That human grows from a tiny ball of baby to a roaming, running, babbling toddler all in one year. Amazing, I tell you. Truly amazing.

17.  The early days, weeks and even months of being a mama were very foggy for me and felt surprisingly lonely. I didn’t expect that, but will be more aware the next time.

18.  I worry more as a parent than I ever thought possible and far more than I ever expected.

19.  Raising a boy to be a good man is a challenge I take very seriously every day.

This is what a feminist looks like.

20.  There is nothing more heart breaking than to see your kiddo sick. They have no idea what’s going on and there is often little you can do to really make them better.

21.  Even when I feel completely clueless, finding ways to make parenting choices with confidence and without judgment is essential.

22.  Being a mama is the hardest and most rewarding job I ever could of dreamed of.  I can’t imagine my life without mama-hood.

23.  Watching my baby dance warms my soul.

24.  It really does take a village. I am so grateful for ours.

25.  I am conscious every day not to wish the time away. I am SO excited to hear his first sentence, to see his first steps, to tell his first joke, to meet his first friend and to be a big brother. Today, however, I am enjoying the present.

It’s been quite a year. The most amazing year. As my baby is about to complete his first revolution, of many, around the sun, I am ready to celebrate. I can’t think of any other way than to throw a party and celebrate with our village our first year of parenthood! We made it! My hubs and I will surely exchange a super high five.

Happy (almost) birthday baby E!

– NVC

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