LESSONS LEARNED IN YEAR ONE
Last week, I had a baby and this week I have a toddler. I swear, it feels like Avi woke up on his birthday bigger and older. Watching him climb around the hotel room - keeping himself occupied and getting into everything, I was struck by how far we’ve come in the past year. As I look back at the literally hundreds of videos and thousands of pictures we’ve taken, it’s clear what a miracle Avi is and how lucky I am to have witnessed his incredible first year of development and growth.
I sometimes have a strange tendency, when something big or important is looming, to act really low-key, as if it isn’t a big deal to me. I’m sure it’s some kind of defense mechanism. But often, the event comes and goes and I feel a twinge of regret that I didn’t plan better or make a bigger deal out of it. I would say that Avi’s first birthday fell into that category. That’s not to say I have nothing planned. We’ll have a birthday party and professional pictures taken, but not until late August. This past weekend (on Avi’s actual birthday) we were in LA for a wedding and this coming Saturday we leave for Israel to celebrate my cousin Gabby’s Bat Mitzvah. So his birthday was spent on a plane from California to New Jersey. This wasn’t an ideal situation, but I really didn’t think it would be such a big deal. Avi won’t remember this birthday and I needed to get back to work on Monday. So on July 29th we showered him with love and kisses, but there was no special cake or gifts. No real celebration. And as I looked through my pictures Sunday night, I started to feel that familiar twinge of regret. Maybe I had messed up and missed out on something important that I could never go back to.
I started go run through the list in my mind - all of the things I could have done differently. We could have stayed in LA an extra night and spent Sunday celebrating. We could have brought presents to LA or bought a little cake. We could have put him in a special birthday outfit and taken pictures. The ‘could haves’ and ‘should haves’ started to take over my mind in a downward spiral.
I let myself wallow in it for a day. All of Monday, I thought about this missed opportunity and let myself feel sad about it. But on Tuesday morning, I woke up resolved to have a different attitude. This year has taught me many lessons - unconditional love, patience, how to live with sleep deprivation, a new appreciation for my husband and partner. And to go with the flow. I may have talked about this before, but I’m a planner. I love spreadsheets and reminders. I live for notebooks and shared calendars. For me, one of the hardest aspects of having a newborn was not actually the sleepless nights or constant feedings - it was the inability to plan for the future. The idea of not knowing when the sleep would get better, when Avi would get on a schedule, or when the feedings would get easier was much harder for me than the actual day-to-day experience. And while I’m still a planner (and probably always will be) I had to learn very quickly that when it comes to parenting, plans are more of an aspiration. And I’ve had to learn this lesson over and over again. I can’t control how Avi sleeps or eats. I can’t control when he learns to crawl or walk. And I can’t anticipate the way I will or won’t feel about specific milestones - like Avi’s first birthday. (The same thing happened with newborn pictures which I was SURE I wouldn’t want...until I saw all of my friends’ pictures and realized what I had missed.)
So yea, I’m a little sad that Avi’s first birthday came and went with so little fanfare. But in August, we will celebrate in a big way and that won’t be any less special. See, I’m just going with the flow.