For Kara's first birthday, I spent all night sizing pictures in Photoshop and racking my brain to extract stand-out moments for each month of her life. It only took three weeks for me to write her birth story - a four-part, minute-by-minute installment no less. I filled a quarter of her baby book by the time she turned eight weeks old. In other words, I've never had a problem formally documenting her life.
Yet I've been chewing on this post all weekend.
Originally I planned to weave my thoughts into a twelve-month update like I did for Kara's two-year post, but seeing as I published his eleven-month update just last week, I'm not exactly drowning in material there. Then I thought it might be a good time to finally write his birth story, except I haven't been able to purge more than a few sentences before I'm breaking into a cold sweat because I DON'T REMEMBER EVERYTHING and my observations from the hospital aren't as detailed as they were with Kara. A freaking year ago, and still I need more time.
It's a hard pill for me to swallow, the fact that Kara's received so much literary fanfare while Nathan waits patiently for me to get my act together. I know he's only a toddler (a toddler!) and doesn't care a whit about such things; as a boy, he may never even ask about his baby book, but I am his mother and it matters to me. I made time for these rituals for Kara. Why is it so hard for me to do the same for him?
Trying to answer that question could very well eat me alive, so instead of rushing into some neatly packaged entry just to bring my son up to par with his sister, I'm just going to say what's in my heart.
Which is this: I have an amazing boy. Amazing! He is walking and chattering and eating pizza and drinking milk and just this afternoon we donned him in winter gear and pulled him around in a sled in the backyard. A year ago I couldn't have imagined this day, I was just nervous and excited to have another baby, and it was impossible to fathom that one day he would grow up to be older, to not be a baby, to become his own unique person instead of "just" my second child. I knew the basics of dealing with a newborn, I dreamed about the kids being eight and nine and the four of us having incredible adventures, but I have never been able to see Nathan as any age older than what he is. Even now with hair brushing his forehead and four teeth fighting to break through his top gums, I can't picture what he'll be like at two years old, or even eighteen months. I can see Kara, sort of, probably because she's a girl and bears such a strong resemble to me, but also because for as long as I wanted to be a mother, I have visualized having a daughter. Everything about Nathan - from his personality down to his very conception - has been a wonderful, complicated surprise.
To be honest, though, sometimes complicated outweighed the wonderful. Those first few months were some of the hardest of my life. Before Nathan was born, Luke and I thought we had it all figured out, having already parented one baby and experiencing all the ups and downs of that tumultuous first year. We knew we didn't have to follow every single piece of advice doled out by a medical professional, knew the importance of sleeping when the baby sleeps, knew it was okay to trust our gut on which routines and choices would best work for our family. What we didn't know was how truly easy we had it with Kara - her willingness to sleep, her ease in taking to the bottle, her acceptance of having her diaper changed without breaking glass with the volume of her cries. And on top of all that he was screamy and gassy and I was already paralyzed with guilt over not wanting to nurse anymore and we weren't sure if it was the formula or the bottle or what. All that knowledge gleaned from Kara and still we had to start over.
If you can't beat 'em, sob with 'em.
But it was a good lesson to learn, that parenting will always humble you, that children in the same family can be different in ways you never expected and battling through each challenge will make you appreciate their individuality even more. Nathan didn't sleep like Kara, didn't read like Kara, didn't even grow like Kara, but his character traits have been equally endearing nonetheless. His vocabulary at twelve months is larger than Kara's was at a year and a half; he's more adventurous with new foods (so far, anyway) and more spirited overall, thriving in chaos and noise, especially if he's the one making it.
I may not document all his quirks and mannerisms as often as I should, or even remember important facts as vividly as I should, but oh, my goodness, do I love my little boy. I love his bright smile and grabby fingers and cuddly neck and infectious hyena-like laugh. I love that he wants to sit on my lap at dinnertime even if keeping him from turning over my plate turns into an Olympic event. I love that he clings to me so much despite us being apart for such a large chunk of the work week.
Have I told you how much I love my son?
Happy birthday, Nathan, my favorite little handsome.
Month Twelve (aka today)
And last but not least...
The One-Year Recap
And what a year it was.