It’s New Year’s Eve, which means Mark and I are reflecting on the last year and discussing goals for the year to come. I remember a couple years back when I thought I’d had the best year of my life – we did lots of travel, Mark and I were at an amazing place both personally and in our relationship, and we had moved to San Diego. It turns out that 2012 had nothing on 2015 and the joy that parenthood has brought us.
Since I was pregnant (read: exhausted) last year, I never did a 2014 review, and didn’t really make any resolutions, which has made achieving them all this year really easy 🙂 But to sum up 2015 into a bulleted list, it looked a little something like this:
- Became a Mom (and LOVED it). Oliver is and always will be the person who made me a mom, and for that I’m eternally grateful. Yes, I will love our future children just as much as I love him and I’ll appreciate the changes and challenges they bring to our life, but none of them will make me a mom for the first time, and I must say, the transition has been amazing. Without becoming too much of a female stereotype or trying to set back feminism, I feel more whole and purposeful than I ever have before. I know I was made to be this kid’s mom, and every day he makes me smile and makes my heart grow a little more. I made the decision to stop working (mostly – I still do a very, very tiny bit of part time work at night), and stay home with him full time. Staying at home isn’t for everyone, and I don’t think doing so makes you any better a parent than those who don’t, but for me, it has been wonderful. Even my hardest days at home with Oliver don’t make me long for the simpler office life (and there are some hard days – especially when good sleep does not come naturally to your little bundle of joy). I love how bonded to me he is – how he’ll reach out for me whenever I get within a few feet of him, how easily I can comfort him by holding him and just letting him be my main focus, and how I can generally read him well. All of those have taken time to establish, and have made me love my time with him day in and day out. I know as he grows, he’ll become more independent and I’ll eventually serve a different role in his life, so for now, I’m soaking in all this one-on-one time and loving watching him learn and grow. I did like my pre-baby job, but really nothing has made me as happy as spending my days with my little man.
- Watching Mark become a Dad. In addition to seeing myself transition to mom, watching my best friend and life partner become a dad has been incredible. Mark had pretty much no baby experience before Oliver was born, so naturally there have been some steep learning curves (diaper changes, feeding, bathing, comforting, safety, etc). Some tasks have been faster for him to learn than others, but beyond all the day-to-day “baby admin”, it has been amazing to see how loving, protective, and attached he is to Oliver. The first 3 weeks of Oliver’s life, we were mostly camped out at home as a family of 3 bonding, and I am so thankful for that time. I think it really set the tone for Mark’s involvement with and love of Oliver. He also spent several months staying at home two days a week to be Oliver’s caregiver (while I was ‘trying out’ working part time), and it was wonderful to see his confidence as a co-parent skyrocket throughout that time. Yes, with me staying home and being Oliver’s primary caregiver, I am definitely the ‘default parent’, but even now he is back at work full time, Mark is actively involved and fully aware of all the minutia of sleep schedules, feeding challenges, favorite toys, etc. He’s also ‘in charge’ of certain tasks, like bathtime, and times when we’re both home and trying to get things done, we split coverage while we execute tasks in tandem (ie alternating looking after Oliver in the morning so we can both shower and then all eat breakfast as a family). It’s been wonderful having him along as my partner in all this, and makes me so thankful for the strong, communicative relationship we had before parenthood, which has allowed us to thrive as a couple during a time many marriages seem to deteriorate.
- Stayed true to my priorities. In my experience, nothing crystallizes opinions and priorities the way becoming a parent has. Your protective instincts go into overdrive, and you simply don’t have the time or energy to waste on people or things you don’t care about. I’m thankful that going into this transition, I was already a confident person who had built the life I wanted, not one that I got stuck with. Doing so has allowed me to throw myself fully into being the parent I want to be, and not feeling guilt or pressure from continuing to prioritize who and what I want. Every day, I wake up and feel like I am living exactly the life that I want, and that is a beautiful place to be.
- Learned to not be in control. Again, part and parcel of being a parent – you learn very quickly that you can’t be in control. I have spent years building the life I want (see priorities above), knowing that I can persist and pursue a goal and that I will eventually get there (or that my goals will change in the interim). I’ve always felt like – even though luck and chance do influence our life – that I was mostly in control. But then, you have a kid, and suddenly things – like naps and teething – take priority over everything and throw wrenches in the plan, and what your little one loved one day isn’t necessary what they love the next day. I guess you could try to resist those influences, but so far, I’ve found there are far fewer tears (by all parties involved) when you learn to go with the flow, accept that not every day is going to be a perfect day, and just take it one awake period or one meal at a time.
- We traveled to Colorado (January, as a last pre-baby hurrah, complete with fancy hotel and great food), London (our first trip with a baby – time zone changes are not for the light of heart!), and Colorado again (as a 3-piece for a family Thanksgiving). Oliver is a pretty good traveller in as much as he has done great on all his flights (including the very lengthy trans-Atlantic trip between San Diego and London) and airport drives, but we’ve learned he definitely prefers sleeping in his own bed 🙂 To that end, I think we’ll be keeping our trips shorter, and likely closer to home for the next couple years. It makes me that much happier that we had Oliver when we did, as we were sort of “over” traveling after having logged so many air miles in the last several years.
Unsurprisingly everything I can recall about 2015 is baby-centric. It’s definitely the most life changing, fundamental change I’ve ever endured, and I’m so, so happy with where it has taken me.
For the coming year, I am keeping my expectations (of myself) low. If we get to this time next year, and I’ve accomplished the following, I’ll be pretty impressed with myself:
- Continue to enjoy motherhood and weather the challenging days with my sanity intact
- Get Oliver to nap *and* sleep overnight reliably (so far, it looks like our options are a tired, grumpy baby who only naps for 25-30 minutes at a time during the day, but sleeps well overnight, or a baby who naps well and is happy during the day, but spends two hours awake and crying in the night). We’ve enlisted help on this front, and I’m hoping the guidance of a pro and some time mean that we can find the balance sooner than later 🙂
- A handful of house projects, including upgrading the closet organization in the second bedroom, converting said second bedroom to Oliver’s “big boy room”, replacing our kitchen faucet (my first ever plumbing DIY), switching out our backyard citrus tress for varieties we’ll make more use of, and some other small yard tasks
- Starting to run again (this is pretty dependent on my ability to sleep reliably overnight though…). I don’t have any lofty goals, but if I can get back to 3-4 miles a few times a week, that would be a great start
- Get (viably) pregnant again. We’d like Oliver to be a big brother, so hopefully this time next year I’m at least a little bit pregnant
- Trade in my car. We loooove our Priuses, but have decided baby gear + wanting to swap air travel for more local road trips in the next few years means we’d like to upgrade mine to an SUV. We’re still hybrid lovers and have been pleased with Toyota’s reliability, so will likely go for a Highlander Hybrid (by “likely”, I mean I have the exact vehicle picked out, but in typical Osborn form, we are making ourselves wait it out for several months before making the switch).
Goodbye, 2015. You’ve been great. I’ll be surprised if 2016 can top this year, but I’m eager for what the next 12 months bring regardless.