A professor in one of my writing classes once told me you should never use cliches, and if anyone has ever said it before, it’s a cliche.
But in this case, I have to. WHERE DID THIS YEAR GO?
To be completely honest, sometimes I feel like this year has been a thousand years long. When David was a newborn I wasn’t sure we’d make it a month. It seemed like he’d be a squirmy newborn forever and I’d spend the rest of my life sitting on the couch nursing him, changing diapers and looking for something to watch on Netflix.
But! We made it!
Suddenly he can crawl out of the bathtub and reach the top of the kitchen table and his little foot doesn’t fit in my hand anymore. It’s August again and my baby boy is one.
If I had to tell you just one thing about David, it’s that the kid loves balls. He has bouncy balls and wooden balls and lacrosse balls and footballs and volleyballs and a yoga ball. I spend most of my day retrieving balls from under the couch or the refrigerator.
For his birthday my best friend Jenny brought him a huge red ball and David hugged it for half an hour.
He loves rolling balls, chasing balls and bouncing balls, but his favorite thing isto use them as scapegoats. He tosses them to places he knows he isn’t supposed to go, like the trash can, daddy’s dresser drawer or, in the photos below, our cookbook shelf. Once they’re there what choice does he have? He HAS to throw all the cookbooks to the floor.
Aside from his hair, he seems to be changing every day. He’s learning so much, he can use his stacker and when he rolls his trucks on the carpet he makes engine noises. When I do workout tapes he copies my moves, and when we say “hi” he says it back.
If we start to say “MaMaMaMa” or “DaDaDaDa,” he’ll usually join in, too. Then, this morning, he laughed when I sneezed, so I started saying, A-CHOO! And after a few times he repeated, “A-DO!” This development is so new that Tom will learn about it when he reads it here. David is changing so fast the Internet can barely keep up.
One of his favorite things is when I put something on his head, something like a piece of paper or one of his toys. Whenever I do it he gives me a look like we’re sharing a moment that we have to keep secret or it will pass…and then he just can’t contain himself any longer and erupts with glee.
No one, not even me nor his cousins or even Brigham can make David laugh the way his daddy does. When I tickle him or chase him around the house he giggles a sweet baby giggle, but when Tom does the same thing David laughs a big, hearty, full-throttle, open-mouth, head back laughter. It’s the kind of laugh you hear from a toddler, not a baby.
In the morning when Tom takes a shower David bangs on the bathroom door and cries until I let him in. And when Tom leaves for work he crawls to our front door and cries while he watches Tom get in the car and drive away.
But I guess we knew that was bound to happen since he’s seen me do the same thing every morning for months.
When David was seven months old I wrote that my least favorite part of the day was mealtimes because he screamed through every meal. Oh my goodness the screaming. I do not miss the screaming.
Now he begs to get in his high chair and eats anything I put in front of him. There are foods he loves, like beans, watermelon, prunes, cheese and noodles, but I actually can’t think of any food he doesn’t like. When he eats he crams as much food in his mouth as he can, as if we’re playing a game of Chubby Bunny I don’t know about. Sometimes he opens his mouth and I’ll see a wad of chewed goldfish packed between his cheeks, and with one hand he’ll put another goldfish in his mouth while he uses the open palm of his other hand to cram it in.
In an effort to avoid what is so obviously a choking hazard, I give him food one piece at a time. This pace is excruciating for David, which he lets me know by acting as if his chair is suddenly crawling with fire ants whenever he has to wait for another bite.
Babies are funny the way they have on-off switches. If there’s no food on his tray David starts tearing at his clothes and trying to rip the back off his chair. All I have to do is put a quarter of a grape in front of him and he’s fine. On, off.
A year ago when the doctor placed David in my arms, I really didn’t know him at all. He started crying right after we walked through our front door for the first time, and when I couldn’t get him to stop immediately, I started crying, too. I just didn’t know what to do. And if the mommy doesn’t know what to do then what?
I used to think things would be so much easier when David was one because his schedule would be more predictable, he would play with toys, and I could bounce him on my hip while I made dinner. The delusion is clear because everyone knows there’s nothing easier than making dinner with a baby on your hip.
And there are things that are easier and more fun, but there are challenges with one-year-olds, too. But the best thing is how much better I know my son now. That night when David and I were crying together, we’d just met. But now I know when he’s unsure or tired or wants to play peek-a-boo. I can recognize the glimmer in his eye when he notices the bathroom door is open, and I know the sound of his cry when he’s hurt. And when he’s flailing on the living room floor because Daddy won’t let him play with the remote control? Well, I know that cry, too.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when David is upset and nothing I’m doing helps. But, for now, those moments aren’t quite so desperate, because I realize that those moments made us the team we are today.
This year has been “more” of everything I expected: more tiring, more exciting, more fun, more terrifying, and more wonderful. And I expected to love you a lot, but I love you even more than I thought I could ever love someone; especially someone who eats my share of the macaroni and cheese.
It’s hard loving someone and also being responsible for them. I’m responsible for making sure your fingernails are trimmed and you get enough vegetables and don’t suck any marbles down your throat. And I think that’s the difficult thing about parenting. All of the middle-of-the-night decisions are much more gut-wrenching that baby in the crib with a fever is your heart beating out of your chest.
I love you so much and I want to do everything perfectly, but if I’ve learned anything about myself it’s that I just can’t do it. And though I’ve never thought I was perfect, I think part of me thought I’d rally when there was a baby involved.
Every day I’m reminded that I can’t do this on my own, I need Jesus to get me through the day. I’m a sinner, and on my own I can’t hug you through your tantrums or be patient when you don’t nap. I can’t be loving or selfless or even get out of bed. I need Jesus to forgive me when I make mistakes, and I need his grace to help me start over; we both do.
This update has taken me the longest to write, and that’s because I keep thinking about what I want to tell you. I’ve decided that what I want to know is that this year you have shown me my deep need for Jesus, and I’m so thankful.
Happy birthday Doodle Dog.