Last Sunday my baby officially turned one year old. It’s been a difficult year on so many levels I’m not even sure where to start. I have so many feelings surrounding Matthew’s birthday and I’m guessing that there are other 2020 moms who feel similarly. Here is just a taste of some of the feelings running through my head when I think about my baby being a year old.
Gratitude: I’m so grateful to have Matthew. He brought light into a year where light and joy were in short supply. On days where the world seemed to be falling apart and reality was cold and dark, this little boy who has no idea what is going on in the world around him reminded me of what pure love looks like. His curiosity, giggles, and smile are like a ray of light and I am grateful for them every day. When things get really hard, there’s nothing quite like a baby snuggle.
Excitement and Joy: Who doesn’t love birthdays? Birthdays are fun and a chance to celebrate. It was so much fun to celebrate the little boy and bright personality that is my son Matthew. Even though we couldn’t celebrate with friends and family, like I would have liked, I still made Matthew a homemade chocolate cake with buttercream frosting and gave him the chance to smash it. It was exciting to watch him explore his first taste of cake. He wasn’t nearly as aggressive with it as his brother, and to be honest, he really didn’t smash the cake at all but he definitely enjoyed it and the delight on his face warmed my heart. I know he didn’t understand what a birthday was but it meant something to ME to be able to celebrate him.
Sadness: I can’t help but feel a bit sad that Matthew has turned a year old. This milestone also marks the end of his true “babyhood.” It’s not like he is going to be completely independent tomorrow but he is growing so fast. Each day he learns and explores a bit more and as each day passes, he needs me just a little less. Packing away clothes that no longer fit is a harsh reminder that he is growing up. It’s a reminder that we probably only have a year or so left (or maybe even less) of our breastfeeding journey and for me to babywear him. His baby car seat will need to be retired soon and it will be tougher to transfer him into the house after a car nap without waking him. Worst of all is the nagging thought that this might be our last baby which means that every time that Matthew does something for the last time it could be the very last time that we too get to experience it. All parents want to keep their babies little and of course, we can’t but as we learned from Disney’s Inside Out movie, joy and sadness go hand in hand and you can’t really have one without the other.
Fear: Unfortunately, thinking about Matthew’s birthday also brings some negative feelings of panic. As a mom, Matthew’s birthday makes me think about his actual birth. My pregnancy with Matthew was rough and so was his delivery. Thinking about them sometimes gives me an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach and there are definitely details that I’d rather forget. Over time I am hoping that I will be able to look back on the day of his birth without these feelings of dread and it’s something I’m working on but I have a feeling it will take a while. I’m also afraid for Matthew’s sake. This is NOT the world that I wanted my children to grow up in. It terrifies me to think about what the world will be like when Matthew is old enough to understand what is going on around him and I pray every day that things will get better quickly, not just for Matthew, but for his older brother as well who is learning to navigate this new “normal” right alongside my husband and I.
Pride: I can’t believe that we made it a year. That’s an entire year that I kept two small humans alive and reasonably happy. A year that I exclusively breastfeed Matthew and fiercely advocated for both of my boys’ medical and emotional needs. Both of my boys are beautiful and thriving. I’m proud to be their mom even on the days where I would readily give one or both away for free just to get a break. I continue to move forward on my motherhood journey. It’s a struggle but so worth every smile and every tear.
Happy Birthday, Matthew! I can’t wait to see who you will become <3
Thank you for choosing ME to be your mother.