A Year in Review
Hello, all. It’s been a while. I wanted to do a recap of Lucy’s first year and have it ready by her 1st birthday, but here we are. Seventeen months have gone by. Better late than never.
October 24th, 2019 Lucy turned one! Fastest year of my life. Fastest, happiest, scariest, most emotional, most rewarding year of my entire life.
Lucy is seventeen months old. She walks all over the place. She tries to talk but it’s still mostly in her own language. She has a raspy growl that she does, and according to my parents and extended family, I used to do that too. Oh, how happy I am that I am passing on my best qualities to my daughter.
Lucy walks around with her head held high with a sophisticated air of confidence. When she laughs, she laughs with every fiber of her being. She is not afraid to voice what she wants. She still loves her bath time and says good bye to each individual bath toy before getting out. She loves books and insists on choosing her own when we do story time. Some of her favorites are Goodnight Pennsylvania, Goodnight Massachusetts, and Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes.
A few weeks ago, I was reading to her before bed and she slipped (more like leaped) out of my arms and walked towards her books.
“Okay, choose what you want and bring it over here,” I said to her.
She walked towards her bookshelf as if she knew exactly what she wanted. She returned to me with a thick book entitled Baby Sign Language Basics.
“Lucy, we’re not learning sign language before bed,” I said.
She squealed and shoved it into my lap. “Okay,” I said. “Let’s learn sign language.”
She growled with satisfaction. We sat and looked at the illustrations of the signs for the letters of the alphabet.
She shows interest in TV shows now and can focus on them. I didn’t think I’d be implementing (and failing at) screen time rules so early. Her favorite shows are Sesame Street and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. She also enjoys Jeopardy and gets especially excited when contestants find the Daily Double. Wheel of Fortune is another favorite. Her favorite movie seems to be Toy Story, although I think Frozen is a close second. She is happiest when she is alone with her mommy and her daddy. I know she adores me, but she gets a special sparkle in her eye when her daddy is around. He has the same affect on me.
She also runs a successful business from our living room. Her staff has the utmost respect for her. She holds board meetings every Friday.
She adores all of her grandparents and she is mesmerized by her nine cousins. When I see the kids together, I am reminded of how it was when my brothers and I were growing up. We would run through the house with our cousins playing games and laughing without a care in the world.
Watching her grow has been the greatest joy of mine and Zach’s lives. Everything she does amazes us. It sounds cliché, but it’s true. The scare we had with her in the beginning has made us even more grateful for each new development. Those first few months I was on the edge of my seat every day. Since then, she has proven to me that she is a strong and capable person and nothing can stop her…not even me repetitively saying “no.” As she grows, I have been able to sit back a bit more relaxed and watch her discover the world on her own.
She has developed a unique sense of humor and knows how to push the limits just enough to get a rise out of me. I don’t know what I expected her to be like at seventeen months, but I’m floored at how tuned in she is to us and the world around her. I can remember in the beginning worrying that I might not be good at this whole thing. I worried about connecting with her the way that I think I should. I would say to Zach, “What if she doesn’t like me?” My worries have washed away. We are so synced, it’s crazy. She makes certain sounds or body language and I know exactly what she needs. She has the same thing with Zach. It’s like we had these skills all along and it just took her to bring them out.
Becoming a mom has been unreal. I still can’t come up with anything more powerful to say than that without crying all over my keyboard. Each day is a gift, even the days when Lucy is smacking me in the face, tearing my glasses off, contorting her body to avoid every diaper change (no idea how she twists herself and doesn’t break), and throwing food on the floor. Yes, even those days are gifts….in retrospect. I have become a version of myself that I didn’t know was in there, a version that I have become pretty proud of. It’s a rewarding and fulfilling feeling. I have been on a constant search most of my adult life for what it is I’m “called to do.” When I became a mom, I felt a fulfillment I never felt before. I had finally found something I knew I was definitely supposed to be doing.
One thing about the motherhood world that has stood out to me these past seventeen months is how hard moms are on themselves because of the pressures of society. The constant judgment and comparisons that are made in society is mind boggling and makes it difficult for us not to be hard on ourselves. I, especially in the beginning, have scoured the internet on more than one occasion for tips to make sure I’m “doing it right.” Checking to make sure I’m “doing it right” only makes me more uneasy and frustrated and makes Zach frustrated because he has to keep telling me to relax. My mom has said to me many times, “Sometimes, you need to stop reading.”
Every little human is unique and each relationship between the parents and the little human are unique. I have found there is no general “right way” to do this. I have 3 sisters-in-law who have children and a handful of friends. I have heard methods from my mom, my mother-in-law, and my aunts. It’s great to be able to pass advice back and forth and commiserate with each other when things are nuts, but I’ve learned that each of us has our own way of approaching motherhood and each of us is doing it or did it the way our children need/needed us to. That’s what’s important! I struggle with comparing myself to others. It’s human nature to do so. Since being a mom, I have put extra effort into trying NOT to compare my experience with those around me. We all have happy/healthy kids and that’s what is important.
Lucy wakes up pretty much every day with a smile on her face. I don’t hear her crying when she gets up, I hear her growling and laughing to herself. She runs around all day and plays and laughs. I guess I’m doing something right.
I’m a stay at home mom. It’s been a wonderful and sometimes crazy experience. Overall, I feel blessed and grateful that I have the ability to do it. I encountered a few people soon after I had Lucy who asked me, “When are you going back to work?” I would tell them I’m going to be staying home and the conversation would be over.
Women are judged if they stay home and women are judged if they go back to work. We need to stop judging each other!! Whatever works for your family is what works. Honestly, props to moms who work. I don’t know how they manage it. But also, props to us stay at home moms. This is hard work too. I have had people say to me, “What do you do all day?” Oh, you know, just watch Netflix and pick my nose. But that’s really only when Lucy is napping.
I’m not trying to get up on a soap box and preach. I just want everyone to believe that no matter what you decide to do, we are ALL working hard ALL day every day. Our lives change completely the instant the little human exits us. Technically, our lives change completely the instant the little human begins growing in our belly. Why society can’t appreciate that and applaud all of us is beyond me. Why society forces us to pin ourselves against each other is shameful. No matter what path we take, stay at home mom or working mom, or stay at home dad, we are making a sacrifice for our growing families. In my household, we used to have two incomes and now we have one. We had to adjust to that new reality, which was difficult.
Some days I get jealous that Zach gets to leave the house every day (at least he did before this pandemic showed up), go to an office, and interact with other humans who are contributing to society. I miss that office working version of myself on occasion. As I am sure moms who work wish they could be doing more with their babies. Society demands women BE it all and DO it all. Women constantly feel torn, which can affect the way we parent. Why are we pressured in this way? WE GROW HUMANS IN OUR BODY AND THEN THEY COME OUT OF US. GIVE US A BREAK. We give up our bodies for pregnancy, push humans out of our bodies, or we get cut open and get them pulled out of our bodies (both equally difficult), care for them at the expense of our sanity for the rest of our lives, and we are still judged over whether we stay home or go back to work. See, doesn’t it seem ridiculous when it’s written out? We become different human beings on a cellular level, from the change of how we physically look, to our body composition to how our brains work. We become new women physically, mentally, and emotionally. However we decide to lead our lives after we bring children into the world is our decision for our family and we shouldn’t be made to feel as though we are making the wrong choice.
Even though I understand and accept the path I have chosen, at times I still feel helpless and think I could be doing more. I don’t want to feel that way, but it seems that is what comes with being a mom. SO MANY FEELINGS. And I thought I had a lot feelings before motherhood.
When I feel that way, I look at my daughter and my growing belly that contains baby #2 and I realize I am contributing to our little society within our household. I am working on raising little humans who could one day change the world. That’s my hope at least. I won’t pressure them to change the WHOLE world, just their little corner of the world is totally fine too.
All parents are doing that. We are contributing new humans to the world to hopefully make the future better. Don’t lose sight of that in the humdrum of routine or the fast paced world of getting ahead while trying to have it all.
To my Lucy girl, thank you for allowing me to see the world through your eyes. You have awakened in me and your daddy a sense of wonder and excitement that invigorates us every day. Continue to hold your head up high and never lose that unflinching confidence that you so seamlessly display. You are a strong little lady and you proved that to everyone right out of the gate. Being able to watch you grow and discover the world has been God’s greatest gift to us.
Always remember, “you are so young and so curious. Your life is wide open. You can be and do anything you desire, but follow your heart. Don’t let the cares and concerns and fears of those around you keep you from becoming whatever it is you want.”**
*Excerpt from the Good Friday Homily from Deacon Joe at my parish OMC.