We had a crazy July in our family and now that August is here and things are calming down we’ve started to re-establish a new evening routine. I think back to those early months with Julia and mornings were always my favorite moments of the day with her. She was so alert in those early hour mornings always cooing, smiling and interacting with me. We would spend those moments together on the bed soaking in baby smiles and giggles while we let the sunshine hit our faces in the cold winter months. At the time, I felt sad that my husband was missing those moments with her as he was long gone and entrapped in the world of law school. As with all things involving children – ages and stages cause changes and suddenly new things become new favorites.
As of recently, our new evening routine starts with dinner. This is probably a given in most families, but I spent a lot of Julia’s first 10 months solo parenting in the evenings just due to the nature of having a husband that is also a graduate student. We now all eat as a family. Food is always a fun and messy adventure for Julia so almost immediately after dinner we strip her down plop her in the tub. This is easily Julia’s favorite part of the day as we watch her splash, play, sing, and make waves in the water. After bath and jammies, Alex and I will lie on the living room floor and let Julia play until she starts to rub her eyes or acts like she is tired. She crawls with toys in each hand, plays on us like we are her own personal jungle gyms, entices us to chase her around in circles, looks at picture books, and gives her stuffed animals loves and snuggles.
We were laying there the other night, watching her playing and enjoying each other’s company when I got to thinking about all that changes in a baby’s first year. I was told before Julia even arrived to soak it all in because it will all go by too quickly. Corny as it sounds – it does. It’s even too quick for me and I’m the one living in these moments and soaking it all in each day. No matter how hard you try to capture the big and the small accomplishments on film or on camera, it doesn’t do these moments justice. You can’t capture the sweet smell of the newborn, or the way your heart felt when you witness that first smile, or the joy you felt for them when they finally learned to crawl, or the nervous feeling you felt as they did something totally scary – like standing up in the cart at Target, or the happiness on their face as the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse song comes on.
This first year with Julia has held so much for me. I’ve learned a lot about patience and perseverance. I’ve learned a lot about myself, a lot about my husband, and I now understand the unremarkable bond between a mother and a child. I’ve also learned a lot of other stuff too – like which diapers I prefer or which bottles hold up the best, or how to pick out a good umbrella stroller. What I’ve also learned is that no matter how far technology has brought us in terms of connecting all of us to one another, there is still so much missing between what happens in real time and what translates into images or videos. A quick FaceTime with a family member will not replace a real hug or a slobbery baby kiss, and my Instagram feed doesn’t include baby giggles, cooing, funny faces or the love that fills a room when all three of us are lying on the floor playing together and being silly. Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned in this first year is just that. The memories that lie inside those images or those videos that spark a little flame inside my heart and make me smile so fondly. As we draw closer to celebrating Julia’s first birthday, I’ve constantly found myself looking through photos of her at each month or new milestone and all of those feelings of joy, happiness, worry, and most importantly, love, all come back to me. Lots and lots of love. Those are the memories that only a mother would know and feel, and how lucky I am to have those.