Our first year as parents will officially be celebrated on January 26, 2010. Baby will be 17 months that day. We will have been a family for 12 months, and, yet, what we’ve learned, is volumes more than we’ve learned in any other year of our lives. Here are just a few of those lessons.
1. There is nothing so sweet as saying good morning to your baby (at the appropriate time). Walking into Happy Candelas room in the morning, scooping him up, opening up the blinds so that the sunlight dapples in, and then huggling (our word for hugging + cuddling) up on the chair in his room, that is the seventh ring of heaven. There is the promise of a new day in front of us. There are those very sweet moments that do not need to be hurried. There is the sweet scent of baby. Not much gets better than that…
2. Although a close second to that sweet moment is putting Happy Candelas down for the night after a very spirited day of playing, teaching, learning, stretching, pushing, talking, whining (on everyone’s part), forcing, celebrating, protesting, embracing, etc. This little kid knows how to live big. His parents, who are old and slow- or so it feels for the first time in my life- just try to keep up, getting out of his way when it’s appropriate and then getting in his way when he’s not. Closing the door behind us once Happy Candelas’s head has hit the mattress, well, there’s some deep satisfaction to that because it signifies a day well-lived- and one more day where we haven’t broken the baby.
3. Community is irreplacable. I cannot begin to tell you how well cared for we have all been in this last year. We had food delivered to us with vigor. Looking back, I tear as I type this. I am not sure that we would have eaten a meal in those first months home were it not for our all of our neighbors. And though we were the ones going through this intense new experience, they never allowed us to feel alone. They made posters and banners for our arrival home. They dropped off soups and juices, chicken pot pies and pastas, granola and brownies. We are so well loved that is is humbling. And when they see us out, even now- a year later, they are thrilled to hear our stories, to love our baby, to love us.
4. The human body and mind are astounding. There will be times in your life when you believe you cannot take one more thing – you cannnot be awakened one more time without dying, you cannot be thrown up on one more time without crying, you cannot… you get the picture. But the truth is, you can. You are far more strong and capable than you ever imagined. You will be able to bend, not break. You will be able to breathe instead of suffocate. There is the other side and you will reach it, even if the road seems so long and your pace seems so slow.
5. You will say things you never thought you would say. And you will be serious. A choice couple from our year as parents: “Baby, eat it, don’t slap it.” “Was a crime just committed or is that baby?”
6. There is no shame in needing breathing room. On the evening we arrived at the beach this summer for our first day of vacation, I had to go to the grocery store to get our perishables. I waited until we had put baby down for bed and then gathered my keys, list, and wallet to go. We had taken BF’s car to the beach – a car that I never drive and that I am ashamed to admit feels a bit like a vacation itself (of note here: the car that feels like a vacation has now been replaced by a hybrid. The good news, we are no longer so negatively impacting the air people breath on their vacation)- and so that is what I was driving. I hopped into the car, opened the sunroof and windows (something I never do, even in my car), found a local radio station that was playing 90s music – so music I knew all the words to- and put the car into reverse. Pulling onto the street, a full moon dappled over the marsh. This was during the time when baby’s wakes up still numbered 10 or so a night but there was always 2 hours between his going down and his first wake up. I technically had one hour and 55 minutes before I was needed back at home. Ambling down that beach road, full moon above me, salt air whisking through the car, 90s music bumping, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of space, of time, of room. I had – for the first time in six months- the ability to just be, in silence, in space. Not anyone’s mom. Not anyone’s anything. Just a woman in the grocery store, pushing her cart, picking out apples. I almost cried at the simplicity of it. An hour later, pulling back up at the beach house, I was again an efficient, engaged member of a family. But that little sliver of time where all I was was a girl on a mission for grapes, oranges, and granola was like dessert. We all need it, without guilt, every now and again.