How is it possible that it’s been a year? The moment I met Teddy is still so vivid in my memory that it feels like yesterday — and yet somehow it seems that I’ve known him forever.
Last month, Anne Lamott — that amazing writer with prose so beautiful that she’s gotten me to read multiple books on religion and faith — posted on Facebook about all the things she didn’t yet know, or expect, when her son was born 24 years ago.
Her post got me thinking. For as much as I read, and talked to friends, and prepared, I really didn’t know what I was in for. Right from the start, things didn’t go quite as planned. (I don’t know many people who plan for labor to stretch out over three days and end in an operating room with an anesthesiologist making small talk about their husband’s job.)
Teddy’s arrival didn’t go as I expected, but it was successful and happy all the same.
At this time last year, here’s what I knew about the year ahead:
- There would be crying
- There would be sleepless nights
- There would be a lot of stuff
- Carrying a baby in a bucket up three flights of stairs was going to suck
Yes, there were tears (from both Teddy and me, some days), there were some sleepless nights, there was (and is) a lot of baby stuff, and lugging the carseat up three flights of stairs wasn’t the main reason we moved, but leaving those stairs behind was a definite plus of the new house.
But the list of what I didn’t know, and couldn’t anticipate, was so much longer. It’s what’s defined the year so much more than the things I expected.
There were snoozy mornings snuggling in bed after 4 a.m. feedings in the early winter, and long days spent “trapped” on the couch under a sleeping Teddy.
Early morning babbling and giggles from the crib made 5:30 a.m. just a little more manageable. And happily, for me, our end-of-day routine involves books (including, non-sensically, a Sandra Boynton book where the animals take a bath before they exercise. I don’t get it.)
We learned that it’s possible for a baby to survive with less than 30 minutes of cumulative nap time in a day, for months. Related: it’s OK for parents to really enjoy when that baby settles into a couple of long naps a day, enabling them to do things like shower and brush their teeth and do laundry and maybe watch a little 90210.
I did a lot of driving with a baby who hated — hated — when the car stopped, and as a result, many people saw me making an ass out of myself singing and dancing while stuck in DC traffic. And now, that baby cracks himself up in the backseat. Except during long car rides on 95. (See, mom singing and dancing and making a general ass out of herself to entertain said child.)
Plane rides are a giant pain in the butt, too, but they’re made easier by a baby who serves as the one-man welcome wagon, waving to each passenger as they board. And the long car rides and plane trips are worth it for Teddy to know his family.
Speaking of all that waving, chatty Teddy. It appears that I may have passed along a talkative gene. It makes me happy that my kid likes people, and being talkative isn’t the *worst* thing in the world.
He loves dogs, too. That’s bittersweet, 6 months after we lost Clar.
Friends extended middle-of-the-night lifelines at the other end of the (many, many) texts. There have been a few tears of frustration, and lots and lots of laughs, in those texts.
There’s a lot happiness, too, on both ends of the phone when Teddy FaceTimes with his grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins.
In the old house, it was nice to have Teddy’s room so close. In the new house, his playroom goes a long way toward keeping everyone happy.
Cooking now involves fewer cookbooks and more crockpots. Workouts are more 10-minute trainer, less 90-minute yoga. Neither of those things will be forever but they’re OK for now.
One thing I did know: B would be a great dad. On that account, at least, I was right. But I didn’t realize how much fun it would be to watch him and Teddy together, or that “dada” can sound just as sweet as “mama.” (Even if dada comes a lot more often and with a lot less whining.) I’m proud of how we got through this year, together.
Year One: Not much that I expected. But that’s OK. It was better than I could have dreamed.