This week we are celebrating Eloise’s first birthday and our first anniversary of becoming parents, so I wanted to share some thoughts from the motherhood perspective. Milestones are mile markers for reflection. I love these special days when we can take time to reflect and look forward with the unusual feeling of a change brewing. This weekend brought the first bit of chill in the air here in Northern Virginia and the timing couldn’t have been more appropriate. A season is changing. We’re beginning Eloise’s second year of life.
This first year was full of paradoxes. Becoming a mom is the craziest, most drastic change. And yet, the way I care for Eloise feels so natural, I never even noticed the change creep up on me. This kind of care for another and fierce protectiveness is like nothing I’ve ever felt. I’m a youngest sibling, you see. I don’t have much of a “protective” “sacrificial” gene. And yet it feels the most normal and natural.
In retrospect, those first twelve weeks were in.sane. Giving birth, learning to breastfeed, healing from physical trauma, dealing with crying, and complete lack of sleep is a ridiculous weight to carry. I know people go through difficulties like that (and much graver), but it was certainly the most difficult experience I’ve ever had. It felt like being a non-swimmer who was forced to jump off the high dive. Just flailing and shouting and hoping for the best. 😂 Everything post month three was MUCH easier. It was like being forced to dive off the side of the pool—not quite as crazy and unrealistically difficult as the first three months, but the need for grit and focus is still very present—especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. Then post month six was like doggy paddling in the deep end. It’s still relentless work, but the more you do it, the more you get the hang of it. And you may even get moments to float on your back.
Another paradox—this year has been crazy fast and wildly long. Time truly perplexes me. How is it JUST NOW October & ALREADY October. I don’t get it. I thought baby’s first year was going to last forever. I was shocked to see pumpkins outside Wegmans in September. Could fall really be coming around again? The truth is, I had such a mental hurdle to get over to fully realize I was having a baby that I never gave much mental energy to the fact that I wasn’t only having a baby. I was also going to have a toddler, and a preschooler, and a little girl. I’m just now beginning to think about what life will be like with a toddler around. “Babies don’t keep” as they say…
This year with our dear girl has been the hardest and the best. The most delightful and the most sleepless. The most stressful and the most laugh-filled.
Each day focusing in on her, putting the screen down, being present, watching her discoveries, putting on my one woman children’s theatre show 😂, putting the time in, has truly felt like a spiritual discipline. Each moment of putting her before myself makes me feel more connected to God. Every day being her mother is teaching me what it means to love someone else more than myself. I don’t always “feel” like changing a diaper or picking up a sippy cup that was thrown off a high chair (again), but love is action. Love is a deliberate choice.
This year has been so rich. Life and love and fear and care are all in such vivid technicolor. And it’s been a wonderful year because Eloise is wonderful. But it’s also been wonderful because I have an incredible partner who has been in the trenches with me. Growing in my career and raising a delightful, healthy human simply wouldn’t be possible without JC. What a teammate. What a guy. Best of husbands and best of men (to lift from LMM).
I also have to mention that community is essential. My parents have been an incredible lifeline and support. My close friends who collectively have decades of experience parenting have been there to answer questions and give opinions. And my close friends who don’t have kids, but are so present on this life-altering journey with me, holding space for conversation about Eloise’s sleep patterns, my confusion about my sadness of her getting older, and even my unusual work schedule, listening in as a sounding board for the details that make up the fabric of our lives.
All these elements have been transformative, but nothing more than meeting our Eloise and learning about who she is. It’s crazy to watch with my own two eyes this little 8 lb 7 oz alien transform into a funny, happy, curious, little delight of a human. I’m so grateful to be here to witness Eloise meeting the world, and the world meeting her. What a beautiful, beautiful year it has been. What adventures await us in year two, E? Let’s find out. Love you to the moon.