Tomorrow, I become the mother of a one year old child. We’ve had a rough couple of weeks, everyone in the house has had a cold, and the little dude has responded by waking up a lot at night and not napping well at creche – so, tiredness and grumpiness all round. Looking back tonight at photos of those early days, I feel like it was a lifetime ago. Which it is, his lifetime. And re-reading my blog posts from last year, I think “if only I knew what I know now, it would all have been so much easier”. In another year, I’ll look back on this period in parenting and think the same thing. Then, when we have the next baby at some stage, the benefit of experience won’t come to much because we’ll be parenting two children for the first time. And so on.
I’m finding that I like each phase more than the last. I go all warm and gooey inside when I look at a video clip of the tiny bubba we used to have, yet my big boy is waaaay more fun. Many people told me to treasure the first year; but other mothers more often asked me how I was holding up, a look in their eyes like they remember the long days home alone and the vague sense that maybe you should be doing something with this baby, but you weren’t sure what. Babies are nice in small quantities and especially when there are other people around, but that’s not what it’s like to be an at home mum most of the time. It wasn’t all hard slog, there were some lovely times, sitting in a park with another mum while your babies grab fistfuls of grass and babble, going for walks with the pushchair, watching you baby reach each new milestone, learning to know your baby so very well, sometimes it was all quite nice. I hope those memories get stronger with time. Most of it though, looking back, was me hanging out at home using the internet as a proxy for real social interaction while I thought about how to structure yet another day around the needs of a baby while also hopefully leaving the house and doing something. I read an article at some stage last year which included the fun fact that monkeys in isolation will press a lever for the reward of seeing a picture of another monkey. I thought first, wow that’s so sad, and then second oh that’s exactly what I do with facebook.
So, at the cusp of the year I find myself feeling relief more than anything else, relief that we survived it. That we’ve made it through with our relationship still strong and that we’ve come to feel a comfortable fit with our new identities as parents, and that we must have done an ok job because the little dude is pretty awesome.