Wednesday, April 09, 2014

In just under a weeks time Sophie is turning one. I can’t actually believe it. I know that’s what everyone says, but its true. If I close my eyes and think back to the day she was born it felt like it was just yesterday. Nothing makes you aware of your own mortality more than becoming a parent. Time is now my greatest gift and I promise you, I cherish it. I hold it so close to my heart and I just savor every second, every poo filled nappy or screaming fit, every cuddle and every kiss, I allow these moments to fill my heart because I know they are fleeting.

Like most moms I wish Sophie could stay little forever. Obviously. In her diminutive state she has taught me so much about myself, about my relationship with Regan and about what it means to parent. Raising a human is serious business. It takes bravery and strength and a lot of patience. What I have learned about myself this past year could fit into a book, but who has time for that? Here’s the cheat sheet:

Crying can sometimes put your world right again
On the third day after I gave birth I came home from the hospital, Sophie fell asleep on the way home so as soon as we walked in the door I put her in her newly assembled cot, (we’re late planners) and I had a shower, followed by bed. Regan came into the room to bring me a cup of tea and just as he did Sophie woke up. He picked her up out of the cot and handed her to me for feeding. As she lay in my arms blissfully feeding away I cried the best cry of my life. Those tears were a farewell to my old life, a love filled hello to my new life and also a huge pat on my back for what I’d just accomplished. Those tears were a catharsis for me. I could never have kept them in.

Date nights are paramount to reinforcing the fact that you are still a couple (& not a couple of baby slaves)
At first it’s really hard to leave your baby. You and your partner are in this amazing bubble of love and you just can’t believe this perfect life you’ve created. But then you start bickering and snapping at each other. This is the point at which the first baby free date should happen. Take time out to remind yourself that you love each other. Feel like human beings again. Even if you go out and all you talk about is your baby. It’s completely ok. Just get out for a bit.

Keep paper plates at hand, tell yourself they’re for “tough” days but use them whenever
Listen, judge not least ye be judged. Those first few months are tough. Cooking feels like this insane chore that is so far out of reach from your present reality it might as well be riding a unicorn. Go easy on yourself. Regan and I had a lot of take out/ bacon and eggs/ hotdogs kind of supper for a while. It was ok. Just accept that you need to take your breaks where you can.

You will have a 3am argument about which one of you is more tired:
Sophie is 11 months and the last time Regan and I had this argument was last night. I’m not even kidding.

I am nowhere near as cool as I was in 2008
My sweetheart, Adeline came to visit in January and we went out for a supper and one of the dinner guests asked her how she and I met, I was struck by how cool she made me sound. I was living in Oslo, I had an amazing art publication project and I sold vintage clothes on the weekend…. WHO WAS THIS GIRL???? Sometimes you’ll try to be the same person you were pre-baby but the thing is, you’re not the same. This little life changes you in so many ways and some of us manage to hold onto our cool, and some of us, like me, wave goodbye to it forever. I’m ok with that.

It gets easier, then harder, then easier, then harder that it ever was (this is where I’m at right now) then hopefully easier again?
My research for this point comes partially from Sophie, partially from remembering my own childhood and partially from having a brother 16 years younger than me. Kids grow and they change and the hard parts suck. First you have colic, then you have teething, then you have terrible two’s, then you have puberty and then finally, hopefully, they come back to you, but not really because they’ve probably moved out by then.

A baby will change you, a baby will change your partner and a baby will change the way you and your partner relate to each other
A little bit of honesty here, there were days when I felt like there was an emotional gulf between Regan and I that would never be filled. We fought and turned on each other and sulked and just really made things miserable for each other for a moment. As Sophie got older, Regan and I also got better at parenting and through that got better at being in a relationship again. Love isn’t hard. Give., take and then give some more. Happy parents raise happy children.

No matter how amazing they are, your friends without kids, just wont get it
Our friends love us and they mean well, but until they have a child they’ll never truly be able to sympathise with a last minute cancellation because of a sick baby or a declined invite out to dinner because you’d rather be home with your new little family. And sometimes they’ll say things like: “Don’t become obsessed with your baby” Umm how? How do I not? Or “You used to look so trendy, let’s get that girl back” No I hate that girl, plus those clothes don’t fit right now. I’ve learned to find a balance, it was hard and I won’t lie, I had a few ‘friends’ drop entirely off the radar after Sophie was born, but I think that’s ok too.

You will buy beautiful handmade toys but your baby will trade it all for an iPhone of her own
It’s like that Mastercard ad where the baby plays with the box. We spend our lives working to make money so we can provide the sort of life our children deserve but sometimes we forget what simple creatures they are.

My heart has a capacity for love that simply overwhelms me sometimes

Its one of those things you hear when you’re pregnant, feeling overwhelmed with love. Hard to imagine, hard to describe but it hits you, square in the face and its scary and so beautiful.

Babies grow so fast, and soon they’re not babies anymore (sniff) so make as many memories as your heart can hold. Make them now. 

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