If there is one thing that I have learned since becoming a mom – it is that the love of family and friends is the most important thing in the world — and that it can make your life so full, you could never imagine going back.
And with that kind of love comes a rally of people. Any army, even.
As I watched our dearest friends and family come together for Clementine’s birthday party over the weekend, I was overwhelmed by the amazing people we have in our life – and the incredible, happy little people we have all created. I know that for some people, having a baby can be alienating for a while. For me, it has done the opposite. I feel as though our friends have become this supportive community. For my friends who have older kids – I have just joined. And for my friends with babies, we all sort of rallied together. In part to keep us sane with a social outing that doesn’t expect a late night, and in part to remind each other that even though its hard – we always have someone else for support who understands. Watching my friends become parents (and parent in general) has been one of the greatest joys of my life.
The other thing I have learned, is that when you ask people to participate in your life in meaningful ways, they jump to the challenge. And, when they love you – they love your kid. In lieu of gifts, we asked people to come prepared to share a memory, a photo, or a bit of wisdom for our birthday girl in a memory book we were making her. The messages, sentiments, and photos that people left were tear-inducing. I am so happy to be sharing my parenthood with these people. I truly feel so lifted up by everyone’s words and thoughtful sentiments.
There is also another very important thing that I have learned about being a parent in 2015. The expectation that we, as parents (especially moms) put on ourselves (or that the digital world AKA // Pinterest bullshit puts on us) for things to look, go, and be a certain way is daunting. Planning my first birthday party was interesting and surprisingly stressful. I wanted to give my daughter a beautiful party. I wanted it to be perfect for her and everyone attending. I wanted it to LOOK a certain way and FEEL a certain way. And I felt pressure. I felt pressure because I know, that in this digital age, the photos that were taken would be living on the web nearly instantaneously and I wanted those photos to say something about ME, as a mother. And while I think I kept myself in check for most of it, I also found myself worried that we weren’t going to get the perfect “photo.” I made myself put down my phone (and sometimes had to, just to wrangle this toddler of mine), and I wasn’t able to create and capture that perfect photo as the party went on. Sure, the set up looked great — the food was perfect, the decor was lovely — but as the life of the party began, I put the camera down.
As I was going through the few photos I had taken that night, I was somewhat disappointed. And then, when I asked myself “why?” – I realized it was ok, BECAUSE I WAS LIVING IT. We thought about hiring a photographer for the party – because photos are important to me. But in the end, it just wasn’t in the budget, and we had already had her one year photos taken. I felt as though it would be somewhat of a over-indulgence, and I think for us, it would have been (I was already entirely over-budget on the party). And after a minute of being disappointed with the photos I had taken, I thought about how incredibly fun and successful the party was and I was really grateful I didn’t view the whole thing from behind my camera screen. And, I will remember her face as she daintily ate her smash cake, forever.
And then, like magic, everyone started texting me the photos they took.
Of course, we had more than enough. Photos, video, you name it. We were covered. And what was important (that Clementine had fun and that people felt welcome) was 100% successful. The party theme and decor were so incredibly secondary to the love and celebration that would have happened regardless of how my cupcake table looked. PS – the cupcake table looked KILLER. 😉
Really, motherhood has just taught me a lot about myself over the first year. Becoming a mom has brought out the best (and in moments, the worst) things in me. Sometimes, I am not sure where my endless patience comes from, or how it seems easy to me now to tame my anger. I rarely get upset or feel like I am at the end of my rope – somehow I just seem to be more relaxed. I have also learned that I can not spread myself so thin that I lose myself. I have done that a lot over the past year. Sometimes, my work suffers. Sometimes, my relationship with my husband suffers. And, sometimes, my relationships with my friends suffer. But mostly, my relationship with myself suffers. Self care, man. It’s an important thing. I am at the bottom of my list, intentionally, most days. And that is something I intend to change over the next year. Ultimately, I want to give 100% to everything and everyone. And I have learned, sometimes at the expense of others and myself, that is impossible. And I am getting better about saying no. This next year is going to be about my little family. I am going to work on giving more to my husband. More to myself. The rest will get taken care of when it gets taken care of.
Mostly importantly, I have learned, that I am a good mother. And I love it. I love being a mom. It is an incredible, fun, rewarding, and difficult privilege, and it is a job I excel at. That gives me so much personal satisfaction to say. You never know, when you bring that tiny baby home, how you are going to do at this crazy “job” we call parenting. But so far, I think I am nailing it. And, Russ is nailing it too. This year has been the most difficult one I have ever had. But, it has been the best. The absolute best.
Next year, the party will be a little more….well, simple. Simple is where we are headed.
Be on the lookout for a party wrap up over on Dress Your Kid in the next week or so as well as some photos from her one-year photo shoot!