Tomorrow baby Jack turns 1, and I literally cannot believe it. I keep looking at the calendar, and there it is, "JACK'S BIRTHDAY!!!" and sure enough, it is accurate. It was a whole year ago that we welcomed Jack to the world, and it has been an incredible year. Except for one thing, it went by too fast. When I first had Finn I wasn't confident as a parent. I was glued to the baby books, measuring milestones to the day, hovering over him waiting for him to crawl, then to walk, then to talk. I was always pushing him along to the next level, doing flashcards and buying the educational toys, obsessing over the best baby food, best time to put him down for a nap, the best way to get him talking. I would sing the alphabet song almost maniacally whenever we were in the car. Too much of my time with Finn as a baby was spent worrying, needlessly. I would lay in bed at night wondering if he was too hot, or too cold. The anxiety I felt as a new parent was almost paralyzing, and part of pushing him to the next stage every time was a way of calming my fears about the future. It was a way of quelling the waves of anxiety that made me feel like I wasn't doing a good job. I could pat myself on the back and say "See, he started stacking blocks, you're not doing a bad job, he's fine". But waiting for him to get to those stages seemed to take forever, because I was all consumed by it. My focus wasn't distracted at all, and time sometimes seemed to move painfully slow during that first year. By the time it was his first birthday I had felt like I had come out the other side of something glorious but also somewhat of a struggle. I had done it, he was one. That scary phase where I was in charge of this tiny baby was over and a new one was going to begin.
Time started to speed up a little once Leven was born. However, even though the second time around I was a little more confident, I was also pulled under even more by post partum depression, which played it's own tricks on the passage of time. There were days where I felt trapped in some sort of diapering crying toddler hell where it was impossible to make food anyone liked and potty training seemed like a cruel joke and time just stood still. There were many days when I was just holding on for dear life until bedtime when I could just exhale and try to get my shit together before the next morning. I felt like if I could just get them both to be a little more independent, once both of them weren't in diapers anymore, once both of them could eat solid food, THEN I would feel like I had a handle on it. THEN I would be able to feel more confident. I kept on setting my sights on the future rather than enjoying the time in the present.
That's the big catch with parenting. Those times you are going to miss so much you think you can't breathe happen when you're right in the mix of things. That sleep deprived craziness when you can't imagine wiping another butt or you'll lose your mind. When you're so spent you fall into bed at night saying a silent prayer that everyone will just sleep through the night. Everyone tells you it goes by fast, and the saddest part is, it's so true. I blinked, and Finn is now in first grade, his two front teeth missing, talking like he's 6 going on 15. I was busy just for a second and Lev is getting ready for kindergarten next year. I will never have those days back with them, I won't ever have my little buddies home with me, they'll be in school, then in college, then moving out. Finn told me the other day he doesn't want to move out when he's older, because he wants to still live with the family, and I cried. I cried because no matter how much you want to hold on to the time, it just goes. And you have to just let it go, there is no choice.
Just like my baby, my now one year old baby. He walks, he talks, he has his own little personality, he's not that tiny little baby anymore. This past year feels like it was two months long. I feel like I was JUST in Saratoga Hospital ready to meet him. I feel like I was just folding little newborn onesies, I remember how you couldn't even see the top of his head in the Bjorn and now it looks like a fat guy in a little coat situation when you put him in it. And just like every mom out there, you think to yourself, this could be my last baby. This could be the last time I will have a baby in the house, little toes and little fingers, rocking a tiny one to sleep, all the firsts and all of the counting of the months. That pregnancy that I complained about during pretty much the entire thing? That could be the last time I will get to experience it. The last time I get to dream about what that new little face is going to look like, the last time I get to pick out a name, set up a room for a new member of the family.
I'm so excited to celebrate his birthday tomorrow, but I am also using it as a marker. From this birthday on I am going to slow myself way down. I've been reflecting a lot on the Newtown tragedy, and using it as a way to remind myself to make time for what's important. To remind myself what isn't important. To remind myself that although I don't have a lot of extra time nowadays, painting little fingernails with Hello Kitty nail polish is my top priority. Carrying my growing 6 year old up to bed even though my back is killing me is something I want to cherish. Laying on the floor and playing with Ninja Turtles, hearing about the new Pokemon, letting my daughter pretend she is a cat for five hours, I'm soaking it all in. But even the mundane stuff I have tried to embrace. I remember right after Newtown I was in the kids room putting away their laundry. I was sort of mindlessly folding and hanging stuff up, and then as I was putting away the tenth pair of Phineas and Ferb underwear I just broke down into tears at how lucky I was to be putting away these little undies. How in that moment, there was little else I would rather do than put those undies away.
I have turned into that person that I have complained about before, the one that gives parenting advice. And just like so many moms and dads have told me in the past I say it here again, "Take time to pause, because it all goes by too fast". I will only be a mom to a 1 year old, a 4 year old and a 6 year old for a little while. Although it can get pretty crazy from time to time, I am going to love every minute of it, Phineas and Ferb undies and all. Happy Birthday to my little Jack Huxley, I love you, and my time with you, more than you will ever know. xoxo