A Look Over the Last Year…
When I worked at Brook Hill, I used to see the littles in Pre-K and think they were the cutest babies in the world. They were so tiny and excited to be at school. They were a blank slate, if you will. Now when I see a short person that age, they look SO BIG. They’re in school! They are so independent! They carry a lunch box and know they need it when they hop down to the cafeteria with all their other short people friends! I didn’t begin to think this way until I brought home my own tiny baby who was a much more truthful example of a blank slate. This was almost a whole year ago. This Wednesday, my baby turns one, and as I think back over our last 52 weeks, I see how much she has grown, changed, and developed. If the next three years go by as quickly as the last (which I’m told tends to happen), I’m going to need a therapist.
If you know me, you know I like to write letters. Getting a letter in the mail makes me as happy as Olaf dreaming about summer. Letters have the ability to lay out all your true feelings to another. This is the reason I never let Blake read letters I’ve written him while I’m in the room. I suddenly become too vulnerable. Letters allow you to explain yourself in a way you can’t always accomplish in person. Letters allow time to think before “speaking,” & letters show character. If I could will myself to get out of bed earlier than I already do, I would love to write a letter to someone every day. #futuregoal ? This wasn’t supposed to be a love letter about letters, but now you know my feelings. See how easy that was? I would never have told you all of that in person because one of us would have appeared too busy or the conversation would have shifted before it even got started.
My point: This is not a letter, but as I’ve been doing a bit of reflecting, these are some things I have learned over the past year. I’m not really one of those who wishes they could go back in time to tell themselves something, but if I do every get my time machine up and running, these are the things I would share. I hope you can relate to some of them no matter the stage of life you find yourself in today.
You will eat scrambled eggs with your hands. They will only sometimes be hot.
Real forks are shiny objects used to attract children, and eating eggs (& most other things) with plastic forks makes food taste about half as good as it really is so to help Collins focus on her own forkless plate, you join her in eating with your hands. You get used to it—maybe too easily.
Remember all your purses you meticulously cleaned out during that “nesting” phase of pregnancy? Yeah, you won’t carry one for the next year.
It’s a good thing you like big purses though. It turns out it was just preparation for a diaper bag. When the rare occasion occurs that you don’t have said diaper bag, you pile everything into both arms and pockets because by now you’ve forgotten you even own a purse in the first place.Big earrings, no. Necklaces, no.
You can wear your shiny watch, but if you take it off in the house, just know it will become her favorite new toy. Just don’t bother with much jewelry this year. On the downside, you will feel silly for the money you have spent in the past on jewelry, but on the upside, you know this is just a season of life, and it’s actually really nice not bothering with it.
You will hear the phrase season of life way too much.
Moms especially use it to remind ourselves this time in our lives will not last forever, and we need to embrace it. You will usually hear it at it at the ends of sentences when moms are being honest about our feelings but don’t want to come across as whining. It’s kind of the equivalent of saying, “She is such a big, fat liar, but she can’t help it, bless her heart.”
It is true, though, this season of life business. Just within this past year, you travel through so many seasons because of how quickly your daughter changes. It’s always hard in the beginning with your first because you don’t know how long each season will last, and you’re a little scared some of them will last FOREVER. They won’t. Take one day at a time and know most of them pass more quickly than Christmas day. Promise.
You will never appreciate those Shirley Temple cheeks on your grown up face until you see them on your little baby. Prepare to swoon.
Getting dressed becomes subjective.
You will watch your husband get dressed up for work, and you will still be in your pajamas. He will come home at the end of the day, and sometimes you will still be in your pajamas. Other days, you will push yourself to put on yoga pants. It’s true there are days you won’t leave the house. Sometimes you will both need a day to just be at home without trying to leave and come back on a schedule. We call these “kitchen days” because we tend to use these days to cook up a storm together. These days do not require fancy clothes. There will be weeks where all of your laundry is athletic clothes…. especially in the early days. On days when the two of you do stay home, you will step outside to check the mail, and nine out of ten times, you will look down to make sure you are wearing pants. I have no idea why you do this. You are never without pants. Why the paranoia?
Wearing makeup will be hit or miss.
You will learn to appreciate the natural look of your face. I’m being serious about this one—it’s nice being comfortable with your face sans mascara. Just remember….this is a season of life. You can get dressed up any time you want. There will be days you get you and your sweet baby dressed up just so you can have a fancy dance party in your living room to the theme song of Sofia the First. It will remain stuck in your head for six months.You will learn how to do many things while carrying a baby.
This one doesn’t need much explaining—you just do it. Your baby likes seeing what you’re a part of—especially when cooking. She is the reason you learn how to crack an egg with one hand. You will feel a bit like Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, and it will be s’wonderful.
You will put Gilmore Girls on in the background when you’re in the need of adult time or a good laugh with Lorelai.
You go through all seven seasons TWICE this year. Collins becomes so familiar with it, she dances to the theme song almost every time. #thankyounetflix
There will be days when you sing more than you speak.
It’s pretty fun. This isn’t just for days when you’re at home. It turns out having a baby grants you a special card to pretty much do anything silly in public and not be laughed at (to your face, anyway).
Do not assume your baby will nap a lot because I have news for you—yours won’t.
Your pediatrician will tell you she isn’t napping enough, and all of the books will support this statement. You will purchase an app that is supposed to tell you how to help your baby nap more. It’s a bust. You can raise your hands to the heavens that she will sleep well at night, but you just need to let go of naps. It’s a pipe dream. Lower your expectations, and think of it as more bonding time for the two of you because really, it is, & that’s a pretty cool upside. Also know that when she does fall asleep in the car, KEEP DRIVING.
You will have the scraped up knees of a 7-year-old boy from crawling on the carpet with your baby.
You will mourn breastfeeding when it comes to an end.
You will be grateful for being able to do it, and you will be excited over her growth and desire for real food, but you will miss those moments. It’s okay to be sad. Plenty of sweet moments are waiting to be revealed, though, so cling to that.
Your parents and husband’s parents still love you, but you will become less of a daughter and more of a vehicle to get to their granddaughter.
She’s really cute, so you can’t totally blame them. If you’re contemplating doing something your parents wouldn’t really approve of (i.e. getting a tattoo), do it after having a baby. They’ll be so engrossed with that little bundle, they really couldn’t care two figs about what you’re doing—unless it affects the baby, of course!
A baby does not automatically destroy a marriage like some people tell you.
But it does force you to look at your priorities and set them straight. If you & your husband are not committed to fight for each other and invest in your relationship, then yes, you will most likely just turn into amicable roommates. I love the way Timothy Keller describes the purpose of marriage:
“It is for helping each other to become our future glory-selves, the new creation that God will eventually make us.”
Remember each other’s love languages, and pour into them, even if it’s in tiny ways throughout the day. You will not be in a place where you can surprise him with concert tickets and frolic away for a fun weekend. But you can love him, and you can still do it well. Don’t view a baby as a cop out for taking your marriage seriously.Love makes sacrifice automatic. It also helps you remain humble.
Before actually having the baby you carry around inside you for 9 (plus) months, you will hear plenty about the sacrifice required. What you don’t hear enough of and what is positively impossible to understand until you are actually home, holding your baby in your arms, is that it is all worth it. Every bit. The love a parent has for her child is unfathomable. You will constantly, and I mean constantly, be refined because you are always choosing to give or take. Before baby, you seemed to make it work—relationship with Jesus, relationship with husband, then self. Now, you still have the former equation, but you are adding in a tiny being who needs you constantly. She is a mirror image of yourself, and you get the opportunity to be Jesus to her daily. I don’t recall Jesus taking much time for Himself. He took time away from people to be with God, but there wasn’t a lot of What about my needs?!? in the Gospel. You will constantly be reminded that you cannot do it all. You just can’t keep your world together. You never could, but there is a far lesser sense of control now than before. Let this be humbling. Find joy in asking for help—from God and from people—because being helped is an act of love.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
Parenting is the most joyful gift, aside from marriage, you will ever be given. And yes, it is the most difficult. But the joy far outweighs the hard.
I never knew I had SO MANY FEELINGS.
When you’re pregnant, everyone tells you to prepare for the immense love you will feel for this little creature. It’s heart-bursting, they say. And you nod and smile because you want to believe them. Like I said earlier though, you just cannot possibly understand what they’re talking about until that baby is here. Even after the baby is born, the love grows….a lot. Think about it. You will spend a great deal of time forming a relationship with this tiny human, and as you grow closer and closer to each other, that love will multiply—every day, I would easily say. It’s a crazy amount of love.
But there are other feelings, too.
The feeling of PROTECTING.
The feeling of JOY.
The feeling of worry.
The feeling of pain.
The feeling of THANKSGIVING.
The ones in all-caps are feelings we have been given by God and can celebrate. The feelings in lower case are feelings we, as parents and as humans, must continually push out of our minds. They do nothing for you. You will find yourself constantly seeking Jesus and asking Him to fill your heart so much with thoughts of love, hope, and beauty that there isn’t any room left to harbor feelings of fear. This will most likely be a daily prayer for the rest of your life. Because feelings are good. We were given feelings because they give us the gift of EMOTION. Just make sure you only let the right ones govern your heart and day. The way your emotions impact your life will affect your baby and the way she thinks—what an incredible responsibility.Happy 1st birthday week, Little Girl. You are loved more than you could possibly understand. I hope you feel that in your precious heart.