365 Days of August: Lessons From a Year of Parenting

Parenthood

The first year of your baby’s life is truly the longest, shortest period. The days (and nights) are long, but the months are short. In the blink of an eye, he’s gone from this tiny creature, unable to do anything but cry (and fill up a diaper) to a little boy, grasping, playing, and with his very own personality.

I’ve always had a fickle relationship with time. When things are going good, I’m either waiting for the other shoe to drop or counting down to when it ends. While the high highs and the low lows are just a part of who I am, having a child has complicated this relationship with time in ways I could never have predicted.

As many of you know, parenthood is hardly parsed into happy, sad, and challenging moments but swirled together until almost indistinguishable. During this last year, I’ve found myself longing for the next phase of development while wishing I could stop time and stay in that exact moment forever all in the same breath.

The first few months were such chaos; we were both in survival mode 24/7. Both Joe and I had a death-grip on our iPhones, ready to whip it out and snap photos or shoot videos to capture time. Often, after August went to sleep, I would lie awake and replay photos and videos from days or weeks past, crying over how fast it’s going, willing time to slow down. By living in this permanent state of nostalgia, I wasn’t present in the moment. No longer “mom,” but a documentarian.

We have pictures of this time, but frankly, not many memories. Since this sad realization, I’ve been trying to be more present in my interactions with August. Taking a moment to pause and notice my surroundings; the dust dancing in the morning light as I feed August. His laughter and the smell of the Baby Dove shampoo on his head while giving him a bath. The tightness of his hugs, and wetness of his kisses, the feeling of his feet in my hands and his warm breath on my chest after a marathon day of refusing to nap. These are the things that I want to remember; moments that are richer and more visceral than a camera could ever capture.

While I’ve been obsessed with finding the balance between recording every minute of his life and living in the moment, I’ve come to realize the things that connect me most to this monumental year of development for not only August but for Joe and myself, are things you can’t capture with an image. And while I can’t stop time, I’m able to revisit these moments, quite strongly in fact, through my other senses.

I’ve caught myself crying in the car when a song from my “birth playlist” came on the radio. In a recent packing frenzy, I accidentally grabbed August’s Baby Dove lotion, and upon usage, all I could smell was him. All of the associations were developed unconsciously on my part, they just appeared, and instantly took me to some of the happiest moments of my life.

As my son, completes his first full trip around the sun, I’m also celebrating a personal milestone, my first anniversary of being a mom. This brand new role didn’t come naturally, but I’m proud to say I’m feeling much more comfortable these days. I don’t have all the answers, but I feel like I can trust my instincts a bit more, having already experienced this first year with him.

As I celebrate my first anniversary of being a mom, I want to share a special offer from Target Cartwheel, 10% off of any Baby Dove product, courtesy of Baby Dove.

I also want to hear your experiences in your first year of being a mom. How are you capturing moments? Or how do you relive them?

Ed. note: This post was sponsored by Baby Dove. The compensation received in exchange for placement on Wit & Delight is used to purchase props, hire a photographer, write/edit the blog post and support the larger team behind Wit & Delight.

While compensation was received in exchange for coverage, all thoughts and opinions are always my own. Sponsored posts like these allow for the development of additional dynamic content to be produced, unsponsored. Thank you for supporting our partners!

BY Kate Arends - July 7, 2017

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I love your photos, but you are right – there is truly never a way to capture the emotions! Happy one year parenting anniversary!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
http://charmainenyw.com

July 7, 2017 10:41 am

This is so beautiful! I can relate SO WELL with that anxiety about time moving by so quickly and trying to savor every precious moment before it slips through your fingers. I have a two year old and I’m a photographer and I’ve often beat myself up for not taking “real photos” of my daughter and only grabbing iPhone shots or sometimes none at all because I wanted to be present. I literally took ZERO photos at her first and second birthday! Something that has helped me not feel like I have to capture it all is asking photographer friends… Read more »

Sarah Hina
July 7, 2017 10:57 am

I prefer quick, vlog like, videos on my phone. Capture the surroundings, describe whats going on, get some cute smiles from the bebe and then put the phone away. 30 seconds at most. They’re not ‘Instagramable’ but they are fun to look back on and just enough to spark my memories of that day/event. My daughter is starting to get the the age where we can watch some of the videos back together which has been really fun.

Holly
July 7, 2017 11:23 am

I can relate to this so well! I am constantly excited for the next stage, while simultaneously willing time to stand still so I can have my baby little forever. It’s truly a beautiful anxious time 😊

July 7, 2017 12:03 pm

I am not a mom, but it has been exactly a year since I recovered from an ectopic pregnancy. Not exactly the same story, but something I am proud to have survived. When the time is right, I will become a mom. <3

July 7, 2017 12:59 pm
Reply to  Lexie

Lexie,
Thanks for sharing your story. I had an ectopic pregnancy two years ago this month, and it was one of the hardest experiences of my life. Getting excited about a new baby one moment and then it’s all gone. My ectopic was caught early, but it didn’t make it any less painful. For me, the worst part was the randomness of the situation. I did nothing, nor could’ve I prevented it from happening.
My son was born August the year following my experience with my ectopic.
My heart goes out to you.
-Bridgette Dutkowski (Managing Director, Wit & Delight)

Katie
July 7, 2017 12:55 pm

I have a 2 year old, and I still struggle with balancing being in the moment vs. capturing the moment. It’s a hard balance (if there even is one). You said the smell of the baby lotion brought you right back, and I was thinking something similar this morning. For me, is a vanilla latte. It’s one from my local coffee shop, and it’s not my favorite. But due to location I drank them a lot when my son was a newborn. I don’t have them often now, but when I do it brings me right back to those early… Read more »

Rachel
July 7, 2017 5:03 pm

I’m not sure if it’s the sleep deprivation, but the first year really has been a blur. My daughter is 11 months old (and will be one year on July 31!), so I’ve really felt so much camaraderie with you as we’re both first time moms! I totally agree that the best moments but have been hard to capture on video or camera … probably because my little one gets distracted when I whip out the phone and will immediately stop blabbering or waving or doing the cute thing I’m trying to get on film (sigh, why can’t babies perform… Read more »

Karen
July 7, 2017 10:08 pm

This post is beautiful and describes everything I am thinking but can’t put as eloquently while finishing out my daughter’s 7th week.
While I take pictures every day I keep thinking of living in the now and just being with her.
This might sound strange but smell and memories go hand in hand. I am trying to keep smell consistent be it lavendar at night or her bath products or the perfume I choose to keep me grounded. Someday, when I smell the perfume I am currently wearing every day I’ll be transported back to how life is right now.

Jill
July 7, 2017 10:48 pm

I tear up every time I think about my 9 month old getting one day older… I miss that newborn but love the boy he’s becoming. It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.
To help me remember, I make a family yearbook. It helps me focus on the important things each year. I don’t want to forget anything!

Angelique vd Willik
July 8, 2017 1:41 am

This is beautiful. I can relate. I lost twins. Thought I could never have again. Tried continually but failed. Then one day I saw my son in a dream. Beautiful inside out. He was a baby and then an adult in the dream. So I knew he’d make it. He came unexpectedly. Everyday I am mesmerized by him and how fast he’s developing. My love for him grows daily. Yes 1yr and five months. Busy, fast learner. Determined. I often say..Against all odds. Birthed in prayer, bathed in love. He calls me mommy Angy or Angel. We do everything together.… Read more »

Joanna
July 8, 2017 7:17 pm

My son is just four months old and also feel like I can’t wait for the next milestone but try to hold on to him being a baby. The beginning was so rough but since a photo can’t always capture a special moment, I like to jot down things I liked each month. Whether it’s his mullet because his hair is growing in or his new laugh, it helps me remember the small things.

Meg
July 9, 2017 9:46 pm

What a beautiful post. This may seem obvious, but when I do post photos of my two sweet boys to social media I use specific hashtags (their first and middle names). It’s always fun to click on the hashtags and see all of the posted images along with the sweet and sometimes hilarious comments from friends and family. When my first son was born (he’s 3.5 now) I suffered from severe PPD. When I look back on his photos, I see a beautiful happy boy and recognize everything I went through during that time. It’s bittersweet but powerful to acknowledge… Read more »

July 11, 2017 1:55 am

Congratulations on your first year! My baby boy is a few months away from turning one, as well. I remind myself that this moment will soon become a memory – it pulls me into the present to savor it. I love watching videos of him and have been logging major moments daily in the Day One app. It’s incredible how difficult it is to remember details from a week ago.

July 11, 2017 8:29 pm

I commented on your IG the other day, but I relate SO MUCH to this. I’m caught between wanting to be fully in the moment, but also document everything 100% of the time because I know I’m not going to remember it all after a while. Just this morning I thought to myself that I have to get a picture of my son’s face when I open up his nursery door first thing in the morning. It’s pure joy. He’s 8.5 mos, and I can’t really tell how I feel about it. Those days that were so hard are past,… Read more »

July 12, 2017 12:11 pm

I loved these photos, I also think so, there is never a way to capture the emotions!

Kate
July 12, 2017 6:36 pm

I felt duped by discovering I was reading an ad.

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