My daughter had her first birthday this past weekend, and I’ve been feeling a mix of emotions that I’m trying to process– I’m realizing this is a common theme in parenthood. I feel a lot of positive emotions. I feel incredibly blessed to have a healthy, happy one-year-old, to have a support system of family and friends who think the world of us, and to have the financial security and resources to provide for her and meet all of her needs. I also feel sad and a bit anxious. It’s hard to pinpoint where the sadness is coming from because I truly don’t want to go back in time. I do think fondly on the days when she was a tiny newborn and we spent everyday just sitting on the couch, doing little more than staring at each other in-between naps. But life with a baby has gotten a lot more manageable as the time has gone on. I feel like I know her better, I can predict what she will need, she has her routines. This makes it easier to get out of the house with her, break the cycle, and be productive with my days while also watching her. The more she grows, the more fun we have together. So, I definitely don’t want to go back in time, but I still feel sad that those times are over. I keep asking myself if I’ve been present enough this last year, or if I was too caught up in my own issues and I missed out on moments with her. I ask myself if there were things I should have done differently. One of the realizations I’ve had that is tied to the most emotion for me, is that I can’t hang on to every memory. I can take a million photos, but there are things I will forget and that scares me. I want to remember everything. I always want to be able to think back to our first week home with her, and remember every little detail — what we ate everyday, discussions we had, how we felt — but I’ve realized that I might not be able to one day. So how am I supposed to accept this? I want to find a balance because if I’m too hung up on remembering everything and thinking back on the past then I’ll miss out on what is happening right now. I think the best I can do is choose to be as present as possible, and accept the fact that I can’t remember it all. Just take in every moment as fully as I possibly can, as it is happening. I’ll definitely take photos, but I don’t want to live life through my phone screen either. Feeling so many emotions at one time can be overwhelming and weird. It is like I don’t know what I’m feeling, because I’m partially happy and partially sad. I decided I would make a flower crown for my daughter’s birthday party. I thought it would be a cute accessory to plop on her head for some photos. I imagined I would make it sturdy, and that we could let the flowers dry out and keep it for years. We could show it to her one day when she’s older and tell her about her first birthday. But it didn’t work out that well. I didn’t really know what I was doing when I was putting it together and it wasn’t sturdy at all. I had to use some tape for reinforcement and the flowers were barely hanging on by the time we took photos of her wearing it. I realized it wouldn’t stay together so I’d have to throw it away. You can’t hang on to every memory.
Just like you can’t finish everything, you can’t please everyone, you can’t do it all. Even in accepting this, my heart still aches. I haven’t taken down her birthday party decorations quite yet. When I tossed out that flower crown, I took a step in letting go. I also took a step into moving forward. Wonderful things are waiting for us everyday. If you’re going to attempt to hang on to anything, make it this present moment because at the end of the day, that’s all you’ve really got.