It’s Haley’s first birthday next week, and I believe a child’s first birthday is primarily a celebration of the fact that the parents kept said child alive for 365, or in this case, 366 consecutive days.
I’m not embarrassed to admit, I’m pretty proud of this. I’m one of those people who struggles to keep houseplants alive, and my husband and I felt it important to raise and potty train a small four-legged mammal before we attempted a little human. (And if my dog’s behavior is any indication of our abilities, our kid will be peeing on the brand new sectional couch in about a year.)
Although we’ve kept her alive, we’ve fallen short in a number of areas. For instance, I’ve found her crawling around with a dog toy in her mouth on numerous occasions. She thinks the toilet is her own personal pull up bar. She eats macaroni and cheese and/or pancakes daily. Her vitamin drops still have the safety seal on them in the medicine cabinet. Speaking of the cabinets, we still haven’t installed the childproof locks in the kitchen. We didn’t buy her winter mittens until the stores phased into swimsuits. And she’s well on her way to thinking pointing and grunting will get her whatever she wants.
Despite all this, we’ve watched her grow and change and learn about the world. She can hold up one finger when you ask her how old she is. She’s walking all over the house like a champ (and doesn’t need to use the toilet to get on her feet). Her culinary tastes have expanded to include black beans, broccoli and olives (don’t judge me, this was huge.) She sleeps through the night and doesn’t cry when you dunk her during swimming lessons.
As I reflect on this year of firsts, I’m trying not to forget some of the lasts, too. I wish I remembered the last time her head would fit in her little newborn cap. Or the last time I saw her gummy grin before her two teeth poked through. How is it possible that in this year of firsts, we’ve already encountered some lasts?
I haven’t done a lot of fiction writing this past year, but I did journal a baby book for Haley. And looking back, it’s the most precious writing I could have done. It forced me to slow down, ponder each day, and store up the moments of Haley’s first year.
Your turn: Do you journal? What type of journaling do you do? How often do you look back at your journals and reflect on where you've been and how you've grown?