A year into motherhood, and I honestly feel like we waited until JUST the right time to have a baby. Josh and I have been together for 11 years, married for 7, but we spent most of our 20’s enjoying the DINK life – dual income, no kids. We had a blast. We traveled, we went out to eat, we slept in a lot, we hung out with friends, we played games and read books. We really just… did whatever we wanted.
Now, having Ava feels like such a refreshing new chapter in our lives. Are there times when I miss being able to read a book (actually read a physical book, not just an e-book on my phone during stolen moments while nursing Ava or rocking her back to sleep), or go out to eat without worrying about packing snacks and items for her, or go see my friends at any time? Sure. I miss traveling (although COVID-19 changed that for us anyway) and not stressing about bringing a tiny human and keeping her occupied.
But overall, we love our new life. I love having a tiny, mischievous human running around my house, wreaking havoc. Honestly, when Ava throws tantrums, Josh and I often have to try so hard not to laugh… not because we’re okay with her being upset, but because her little emotions and feelings are SO BIG and forward and expressive. I just love it!
Ava has taught me a lot, but I’m also very conscious of learning this new little human. She’s a full soul, a full person in a tiny body without the verbal skills to express what she is fully feeling, and so it’s very important to me to learn her personality instead of just putting her in a “baby” or “toddler” bucket to explain her reactions. Instead, I want to make sure she is heard and understood as her own person.
So what are the things I love about her, besides EVERYTHING?
- She’s HAPPY. Ava is exactly how my mom described me in some of her Christmas newsletters while I was growing up. She’s SO HAPPY until she’s not. Her default setting is happy, just like mine is. After months of her being a little more difficult (wanted to be walked a lot, very light sleeper, tummy issues, etc.), it’s so wonderful to find out that once we took care of some of those other things, she’s just HAPPY,
- Ava is EMOTIONAL. I use that word proudly for her. It’s something I’m only now learning to love about myself. She feels VERY STRONGLY about things, and will let. us. know. how she feels. It’s such a comfort to know that she doesn’t suffer in silence, and I want her voice to be big and forward for the rest of her life. I’ll take all of the tantrums now to make sure she feels like she’s heard.
- This baby is CLEVER. Every person thinks their baby is smart, and here’s the truth – they are almost always right. When I look at the successful people around me, it’s very rare that they were just born very smart and had little developmental support (people reading to them, good parents, good teachers, etc.) and became successful. In fact, I don’t actually think that being smart has a whole lot to do with being generally successful (I say “generally”, because there are of course people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, etc., who are VERY SMART and super successful in their fields). I actually think people skills, leadership and empathy make people more successful than straight intelligence. The successful people in every job I’ve ever had weren’t necessarily the smartest people in the room – they had technical skills, but their people skills were VERY good. Anyway, I digress. Ava is clever. She LOVES BOOKS. We read her between 25-50 books a day (some are very short, of course, and sometimes she wants the same books over and over, but still). She’s a problem solver. She likes to learn and to experience. I just love watching her flip through her books on her own or try to put her toys back in their baskets.
- She’s BRAVE. She will absolutely try new things, and loves being thrown in the air and riding in her little remote car. As long as mom or dad are nearby, she’s even willing to go to new people.
- Oh, she’s FUNNY. She does things to make us laugh or smile. She pulls blankets or curtains over her face and waits for us to ask “Where’s Ava?” before she yanks it down to show us the biggest smile. We always laugh, and she looks so happy that we did. She also loves to “trick” us – she’ll pretend she wants to go to someone (usually by holding one arm out instead of two when it’s real), and then turn back and hug the person holding her, kicking her feet and laughing. She’s so funny.
- She’s ADAPTABLE. For being a big personality, and very vocal when she’s upset, she actually adapts pretty well when we do things. She’s fully sleep trained and sleeps through the night in her crib (for a few months now). She can be late for her nap if we keep her occupied. She wears the clothes and bows we put on her without any real fuss. She’ll try new food over and over. She’s been drinking both soy milk and whole milk in her bottles now as we wean her off of them. She’ll share her emotions, but then settle down and go with the flow.
- Ava is so SWEET. Oh, this baby. She is SO sweet. She loves to share – she’ll hold out her toys or food to everyone (Josh, me, Ansley, our dogs…), and then laugh and bounce when we say thank you. She loves to cuddle her baby dolls and this random monkey dog toy we have. She loves to give kisses to Josh and me. She waves and smiles at her grandparents on FaceTime. She’s just so SWEET.
In short, is just the most wonderful part of our lives, and I’m so so grateful to have this little soul to help raise in her earthly mission. I want to document these things so I have them to remember what a wonderful, wonderful baby I have!