Joe is in Nashville this week and while catching up on our days over the phone yesterday evening after the kids were asleep, he asked me how I’m handling knowing that my boy turns one tomorrow. I thought about it for a split moment, vividly remembering how hot of a mess I was when Edie turned one, and then I answered him.
“Tomorrow night I’ll probably do what I always do and make a scene and embarrass myself with lots of ugly crying when I put him to bed but, come Friday morning when we wake up, I’ll remember that I never have to experience a first year ever again and I’ll probably go outside and do a round of celebratory back flips.”
Because it’s true.
Yes, I already mourn the inevitable thinning out of Knox’s turkey thighs and I dread the day he doesn’t willingly let me smother his chubby cheeks in kisses. Yes, I will undoubtedly miss the way he growls like an animal when he wants more food and I will forever very fondly remember the days when his favorite place was perched on my right hip but I will not miss the toll this past year put on me and my family. Yes, I wish I could go back and be a better (and less depressed) mother to Marlo while she was a baby but I do not, with a single ounce of my being, possess any desire to relive the struggle of being a new mom. And, of course I wish I could revisit Edie’s first year and give myself and Mo more grace as we established our footing as a family of four; of course I regret not relishing Edie’ baby-ness more than I did because Edie was a living, breathing inducer of baby fever like I’d never seen before and haven’t met since. But I would never want to go back and feel that lack of confidence, that maternal uncertainty, and crippling frustration ever again.
So, when a well-meaning fellow parent a few stages removed from our our current phase of parenthood tells me with utmost conviction that I’ll miss this current stage so much one day, I internally cringe. I want to correct them on the spot and defend myself and explain what the last six and a half years have felt like. And when they remind me to “be grateful,” that annoyed cringe turns into visceral rage and I have fight every urge to punch them in the throat.
Because, with all due respect, no I absolutely fucking will not miss this part of parenthood. In fact, there are large portions of all three of my kid’ first years that I’ve successfully managed to black out.
The last 365 days have proven to be not much more than a psych experiment in mental, emotional, marital, maternal, and physical survival gone rogue. I have been pushed beyond any and every boundary I previously enforced as a person, as a mother, and as a wife. I’ve expanded in ways that I now realize in hindsight were necessary and vital ones but the work required for embracing that kind of growth often left me wondering why I ever thought I was capable of being a mom to three humans and seriously doubting that I’d ever be a good one.
But I’d be lying if I said that I’m not feeling a little melancholy though, I’m fairly certain that my mood has far more to do with the finality that his birthday symbolizes more so than actual sadness because he’s turning one. Today marks the last page of a chapter whose plot largely revolved around growing, birthing, and sustaining human life. It’s a chapter that will go down as one of the most transformative, significant, consequential, and soul-affirming chapters in my life and, man, I’m eternally fucking grateful for it and for the three little people Joe and I got out of the deal.
Tonight, as Knox lays in my lap drinking his bottle while I whisper Doris Day’s ‘A Bushel and A Peck’ before laying him in his crib, I’ll ugly cry and feel all of the feelings. I spent much of the past year doubting myself and my capacity as a mother, but the truth is, surviving this last year serves as proof that I’m far more than capable of mothering these three babes of mine than I ever give myself credit for. Tomorrow morning when I wake up and go lift my one year old out of his crib, I’ll tell myself that closing this chapter means I’m also beginning a new one— a chapter whose overarching theme is simply loving the hell out of my kids.
Happy Birthday, Foxy Knoxy.
Thank you for choosing us, completing us, and for reminding of what I’m capable of.
I will love you forever.