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First Anniversary of Parenthood

March 26, 2012

…otherwise known as Ryan’s first birthday.

Our little 6 pound, 8 ounce tiny man turned one year old today.  I think the most common statement is something along the lines of, “Can you believe he’s a year old?  Did the time fly?”  Yes, I can believe he’s a year old and no, the time did not fly.  It was a long, hard year, full of LOTS of ups and downs.  Quite frankly, I think there were a lot more downs than ups.  I felt every day of this first year.  I felt the minutes dragging by like hours and the hours feeling like days.  I felt the nights that seemed to never end and the mornings that were oddly reminiscent of my sorority hangover days – only without the fun of the night before.  I felt every moment of the last 366 days (not a typo – it’s a leap year).

I felt it all and I would feel it again.

This year challenged me more than anything I have ever done.  I have never worked so hard at something in my entire life.   I quickly learned that the role of mommy is not glamorous or gratuitous.  It’s just hard, dirty work that seemingly never ends.  There were days that Dan would come home from work to find both Ryan and I in tears of unhappiness and frustration.  There were mornings that wound up simply being extensions of a sleepless night.  Each day blended into the next to the point that often I can’t tell you what day of the week it is, let alone the date.  Parenthood is a hard, thankless job…or so I thought.

As I sit here today thinking about the last year, I don’t remember his first three months.  At all.  If there weren’t pictures, I wouldn’t believe it happened.  Then months 4-6 were full of sadness and anxiety before I realized the time limit on baby blues had long since passed and perhaps it was a little bit more than just a funk.  Months 7-10 consisted of my favorite time of year – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s – and I barely realized they were here before they were over.  And then, suddenly, we arrived at March 25, Ryan’s first birthday, and I feel sort of sad, like I wasted the year being unhappy and ungrateful.

And then I realize that it wasn’t a waste at all.  As a person, I’ve grown incredibly during the last 12 months.  Things that kept me awake at night before Ryan don’t even faze me anymore.  I’ve learned who in my life I can truly count on and who I can’t, and I’ve come to realize that I can’t change people, no matter how hard I try or how much of myself I give.  I’ve started to shrink my inner circle and remove people from my life because of how they’ve treated me – it’s more important to put that energy into my son than into a dead-end relationship.   I’ve also found some wonderful people in some unexpected places.  I’ve become a stronger, more assertive person because I now realize that I set the example for Ryan in how I allow myself to be treated.  In the same token, I’ve taken a lot of time to evaluate myself, my behaviors, and my actions, and to really work to change the things that aren’t so great so that my son grows up knowing that he is not the center of the universe and that his actions do affect others.  I’ve learned that I’m made of more than I gave myself credit for.

I didn’t get here alone.  I am so lucky to be surrounded by some wonderful people who, at times, literally held me up this past year.  For this, I will be forever grateful, because there were definitely times when I didn’t think I could make it through the hour, let alone the day.

I find it interesting that we spend so much time focusing on what we can teach our babies – to sleep through the night, to feed themselves, to sit up, to play nice, to speak, to stand, to walk – but if we sat down to think about it, our babies teach us more about life and ourselves in the first year than we ever knew.  We learn that priorities are ever-changing, that one day can make all the difference in the world, and that no matter what, tomorrow will come.

With that, no, I am not sad that Ryan’s first year is over because really, I feel like everything is just beginning.

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