The First Year

By now, you’re probably sick of hearing about my daughter, Iris. I know, I know, new parents are the worst, right? And although I will say that amidst all the coos and giggles, the wet kisses and cuddles, there were some real and sometimes hard lessons to be learned. My daughter just turned one, and so now I can consider myself the authority on all things child related. Here, I will dispense my wisdom.

1. Do not go cheap on the bubble wands. Bubble wands? Yep, bubble wands, the little plastic circles with grooves to hold bubble solution. When you have a baby, you end up spending a lot of time blowing bubbles, and the quality of the wand is paramount when determining whether you spend time actually blowing bubbles or hyperventilating in vain. The long (and I mean a foot or more) oval ones are the most versatile. The standard wand in a Magic Bubble bottle is crap. Don’t fall for it.

2. If your child is looking at you beatifically, it’s because they are peeing on you. Savor the warm moment that you think is born of love and affection and realized that the warmth you feel is urine. It’s okay. At least it’s not deliberate at this point.

3. If you are breastfeeding and working, then your child will want to feed roughly 20 minutes after you go to sleep, no matter what time you go to bed. Think you’ve outwaited her? You’re wrong. There is no outwaiting a hungry newborn.

4. Swaddling blankets are useful for pretty much everything but swaddling. That’s what the knit sacks with velcro tabs are for. Why learn baby origami when 3M patented a material that does it better? Hard pass on tissue-thin muslin that your kid wants to escape immediately.

5. They say that babies want to play with the boxes more than the toys. Not always true, my friends. For a while, I kept larger boxes, sure that my daughter would want to crawl through them, tunnel style. You know what kids want to play with? Whatever you don’t want them to play with and that includes their toys if it means crushing your diaper box turned tunnel maze idea. You learn to roll with it.

These are just a few of the more practical lessons I’ve learned.  Of course, there are also the more profound lessons.

6. Your baby’s laughter will be the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard, no matter how much of a music aficionado you claim to be.  It is the reason to get up after a sleepless night.

7. Your partner will become so much more than a lover–he or she will be your trenchmate, your confidant, the only thing holding back from the abyss of exhaustion some days if you will let them. Let them.

8. You cannot do it all, and if anyone says that you can, then they want something unrealistic of you. Your focus should be on the life that depends on you. The dishes will wait. Hug your baby and be thankful for health and opportunity.

9. Grandmothers are awesome, whether they are yours or simply the ones that coo and tickle your little one’s feet at the grocery store. It’s easy to lump the older parents into a group and not listen to what they have to say, but when they give advice, no matter how hard it is to hear sometimes, they do it because they remember how awfully hard it was at the beginning. Accept their kindness when it comes. You need the encouragement.

10. And last, but not least, live in every moment. Don’t check your phone. Wait to post the picture. Life is flying by while you’re telling someone else about it. This is so hard for us in the digital age, but my constant struggle is to accomplish my goals while not letting my daughter grow up without me watching. These moments are so fleeting, and I can already feel time racing away from me, laughing at my futile grasp on it.

I didn’t realize how much being a mother would change me–give me patience, teach me to slow down, and give me the opportunity to see the sweetness in each day, rather than looking forward to the mountaintop experiences that we plan. Parenthood is God’s way of showing you what real love is like. It’s overwhelming in the very best way.

Happy birthday, Iris. Mama loves you!