Sometime between holding a brand new baby for the first time in my arms and the blink of an eye, my little peanut, that teeny tiny bundle wrapped in a huge towel, turned one.
I know, I probably shouldn’t have blinked.
Back when I was a new Mom, still trying to get the hang of living in a constant zombie-like haze with my days and nights just as muddled up as a newborn baby’s, been-there-done-that moms would tell me to cherish this time, because it would fly away really fast and that I would miss the long quiet nursing sessions and cuddle time. Sitting in front of a muted TV for two hours in the dead of the night with the same old movies on repeat night in night out, while everyone else around me slept, I honestly hoped time would fly away fast. Having to choose between hunger and sleep at four in the morning is no fun, as any new Mom would vouch for. Neither is rocking baby to sleep for the umpteenth time in the night only for her to wake up the moment her head touched the crib. But that time did fly, albeit in a haze. When I think of those times now, funnily, I don’t remember just how tired and hungry I was all the time. I remember being wide eyed with wonder as I watched her sleep, still unable to believe something as perfect as her was mine to love. I remember being exhilarated when I heard her cooing for the first time and how I would be just as excited each time she did it after that. Most of all, I remember feeling complete, and how a simple act of holding her in my arms melted my heart.
In the following months, she started sleeping through the night, and then suddenly changed her mind around the fifth month, deciding sleeping all night was overrated and that the whole day of attention was not enough and that she wanted Mamma for herself all night long. It was around that time that she declared mutiny against naps, decided the stroller was for tamer babies and that if she let Mamma out of her sight her world would collapse around her. So that in short is how I came to be a baby-wearing, bed-sharing Mom. My Ergo baby carrier became my best friend and sometimes the only way I could get her to nap. The husband started sleeping on a mattress on the floor, I curled up on one corner of the bed while baby girl reigned supreme over the bed. Right before completing five months, she started rolling over and of course that led to so many more wakings up at night as she would find herself on her belly unable to roll back to her back. Ah, good times. But this one time I particularly remember: after pacing the living room for a good hour with a wailing baby in my arms, trying to put her to sleep and finally giving up and going out for a walk in the sweltering Singapore afternoon heat, with her snuggled in the sling, I had an epiphany. I realized, if there is one thing I learned from being a mother, it is to unlearn. You can talk about routine and schedules till the cows come home but the fact is nothing keeps you on your toes like a baby! I mean, you get used to something and think to yourself “Hey, I think I’ve figured this out! I’ve gotten the hang of this, yes!” Bam! Baby decides to do something completely different and you’re left wondering “Now where did this come from?” But you learn to deal with it and get used to it, until the next time you are forced to unlearn it. Eventually, it does become easier. Because you kinda accept the fact that you have to repeatedly unlearn stuff and that you gotta do what you gotta do and “whatever works!” will become your mantra and parenting books might just get thrown outside the window.
But through all this, the months melted into one another, and one fine morning we found ourselves singing “Halfie birthday” to her. That was also when we started introducing her to solids, which again, she hated. Avocado? Bleh. Carrots? Double bleh. Banana? Gag gag puke puke. I cursed my luck for being blessed with a baby who wasn’t big on food, of all things. Around her seventh month, she started sitting unsupported but that also meant she screamed to be pulled up to sit. That was also the time we took her on her first trip to India, where she had her first morsel of rice. It took us a whole month after reaching Singapore to recover from a ten day trip. Needless to say, all future trips to India were postponed until further notice.
Then suddenly, around the ninth month, things started “clicking”. All of a sudden, she started eating food, and loving it, and asking for more! And the biggest miracle, she started liking the stroller! She started pulling herself up to stand, sitting on her own from lying down, and went from army crawling to full fledged crawling in one short week. My baby girl was suddenly much more mobile and independent, and I found myself planning her very first birthday party. Singapore being what it is (*cough* expensive *cough*) it took us a long time to find a venue for her party, but we finally came across a really nice crafts cafe that was just the right amount of quirky and colorful for baby girl’s owl themed party. I made her a tutu to wear at her party, and was mighty pleased with myself at being able to create such an exquisite thing, if I may say so myself.
As December rolled around, I started finding myself more nostalgic with each passing day. I couldn’t believe that this immensely naughty, immensely active baby was a mere bundle in my arms a year ago! This kid, who pretends to “talk” on the phone with anything that she could lay her hands on, climbs anything within and even outside her capacity, mimics the sound her Dadda makes while clearing his throat, slurps Pho Ga from a chopstick, knows which button to press for the lift to go down, “draws” lines on paper and then “adjusts” her pen, gives flying kisses to random strangers and feeds us cheerios from her bowl, was but a bump in my belly beginning of December last year. And from being an anxious scared bundle of nerves who would Google search every little thing related to her baby, I became a confident (subject to conditions *shrug*) mother who learned to enjoy every moment with her baby instead of worrying (alright, worrying too much) about her. It’s been one perfect year, and here’s looking forward to a lifetime of learning and unlearning. Bring on the terrible twos! Bring on the dreaded tweens and the horrifying teens! Just let me sleep a couple of hours at a stretch and a cup of coffee when I wake up, and watch me conquer the world…
I may have lost track a little bit here, but to end it all… yeah, it’s been an amazingly complete year, if you know what I mean… and I am so, so, grateful that this year was what it was. To infants who turn into toddlers, and first time mothers to learn to relax… Cheers!