Ellis turned one last Saturday. I was prepared to feel all the feelings. Fully believing I would be an emotional trainwreck, I did what every reasonable adult does–I refused to talk about it at all beforehand. I’m still in that postpartum stage where I cry about all things Ellis (don’t tell me it isn’t a stage, I have to believe that it is for my sanity). The gameplan was to spend the day tailgating in Starkville, complete with birthday cupcakes, and have his party at our house the following day. Unfortunately, E woke up sick on his birthday, so he and I spent the day at home.
I’m definitely not happy that he was sick on his birthday, but it turned out kind of sweet. I was able to spend the entire day on the couch with my big one-year-old, processing the last year and giving him my undivided attention. He spent a lot of the day napping, and I spent a lot of time watching him lying there, looking nothing like the baby I brought home from the NICU. We talked and played and it felt eerily similar to our first days at home, after Drew had gone back to work and it was just us.
I expected to be sad that a whole year had passed since those days, but I just wasn’t. I didn’t shed a single tear. I almost felt bad for not feeling bad.
Maybe it’s all the positivity podcasts I’ve been listening to (ha!) but I just felt content and thankful. My guy was a year old and thriving. He did it. We did it. Maybe that’s a common feeling among mothers whose children had a rough start. Maybe a lot of moms feel that way, but they think they’re supposed to be sad for the time that passed so quickly. #momguilt
And it did pass SO quickly, but when I look at Ellis, I mostly see how he has surpassed my every expectation and driven out every fear I had about what his life would be like. I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that, one year in, we have cleared every hurdle thus far with a happy, healthy baby.
I made a conscious decision to be grateful for the time we had been given with him this past year. A year that we both spent growing in so many ways. Did anyone else wake up on their child’s birthday and think, “I did it, I kept him alive a whole year!” No? Just me? Okay.
When I was pregnant, I tried to get as much insight as possible from mothers who I admire. One friend and co-worker, Darla Webb, gave me a piece of advice in passing that struck me in a way I didn’t expect. I think about it all the time. She said, “Don’t think about the stage that came before. Just enjoy where your kids are at, and every age will be your favorite age.”
That advice truly changed the way I see parenting. I remember when Ellis was six months old, and I just wanted to freeze time. He had developed such a fun little personality, was finally sleeping more and was learning so quickly. Now, looking back, I’m so glad I couldn’t freeze time. This stage is better. And, I expect the next one will be even better for different reasons. Each new stage means more milestones to celebrate and learning to do.
I know that one day, the next stage will be college or marriage or grandchildren, and I will miss having my little side kick always nearby. But I hope even then, I can look back with more gratefulness than longing and look forward with hope to the memories ahead.
Happy Birthday, Ellis! Just as I told you on your birthday, you are better than I could have ever imagined. Next stop, toddlerhood.