Today, my baby Ava is one year old.
How did this happen? In some ways, this has been the longest year ever. But in others, it’s a blur of growth and wonder from my baby girl. As the weather started to change, leaves started to fall and a cool breeze swept across the south, my body instantly remembered last year: the feeling of being *VERY* pregnant, and the excitement and fear that came with the last few days of my pregnancy. I was both SO excited to meet Ava, and so terrified of how my life would change.
What can I say about the last year? What did I learn? How did I change?
Ava taught me LOVE. Oh, the feeling of adoration that comes with a newborn. Her tiny, warm, squishy body, permanently strapped to me. Her glee when she’s being mischievous (oh, it’s just my FAVORITE). The pride in her milestones, even the tiny ones (her first drink of milk! Her first time at the aquarium! Her first time grabbing onto that little pink ball! Her first word! Her first steps!). Her smile when she sees me and the love that fills me when I see her – like everything’s okay when we’re together.
She taught me PEACE. The feeling that taking care of her is a job unto its own, and even if all I did (especially during those first few months) was hold her and ignore the cleaning, ignore my to-do list, and order food for dinner, that was enough. This peace extends to work – I go to a job I love, and because I’m a mom, I honestly feel like I’m able to be more present, more focused and more efficient. Then, I leave work and go home. Sure, I check my work phone at night, but I feel a peace with leaving work where it belongs and focusing on being present with her when I’m home.
She taught me COMMITMENT. I can still remember that overwhelming feeling of responsibility in the first few weeks – if she’s hungry, if she’s tired, if she has an itch, she relied on ME (and my husband) to help her. She was truly reliant on us to be everything for her. I was her comfort, her warmth, even her food since I nursed. If she cried, she was crying for me or for Josh. When she was bored, she wanted us to walk her around. And oh, how we walked her. As a newborn, I routinely got between 8-10,000 steps a day IN MY HOUSE. Not going on big walks outside or anything. Literally walking circles around my house, since that’s how she slept and what she wanted when she was bored. It’s an overwhelming sense of need and importance.
She taught me GRACE. I had no idea what motherhood would look like for me, and every day, she teaches me something new about my level of patience or my “when I’m a mom, I will ___”. HA. My parenting style is basically me trying to give Ava what she needs: boundaries, love, support, guidance. Some days it’s harder than others (like now, during her tea kettle screeching phase). But all days, it’s my favorite job.
She taught me FAMILY. This neverending love and adoration is such a new feeling for me. I love Josh, and I have a wonderful family. But now, I feel this incredible sense of responsibility and need to surround Ava with what I have: parents who love me, cousins, aunts/uncles, grandparents, and the autonomy to build her own family while also having us as a safety net. Giving Ava a village filled with love is one of the biggest responsibilities I feel for my motherhood journey.
Each new phase is my very favorite, and I think I’ll say that straight up until she’s in the fun, sassy teenage phase (sorry, mom). Newborn Ava was warm and soft and cuddly, but getting to know this feisty, brave, HAPPY baby is the BEST thing ever. Gosh, how lucky are Josh and I to get to help her with her earthly journey? To love ALL of her, and to give her a home where she doesn’t have to worry about who she loves or what she wants to be when she grows up. To give her a place of SAFETY and LOVE always.
Happy, happy birthday to my sweet Ava. We love you forever.