Firsts and lasts

With bébé’s first birthday behind us and his first steps coming soon, I’ve been thinking a lot about firsts. As a mother who works outside of the home, it’s inevitable that I miss a fair number of firsts. Almost without fail, when I see him doing something new, I yell for my husband, “Look! See what he’s doing!” and, much to my chagrin, he almost always answers “Yeah, he’s been doing that for awhile”. I usually try to hide my disappointment, though I definitely got visibly cranky when my mother-in-law gave him his first baby teething cookie the other week, because I wanted to be there to see how he reacted the first time.

Lately I’ve been trying to reign in these feelings, and to put things into perspective. I’m still trying to keep a positive outlook and not react so negatively to what is a very common situation for many people (being away from home and bébé for most of the day).

 

First of all, besides things you control, like first visits somewhere or first foods, it can be very hard to determine when the exact “first” time something happens. Was that a smile, or gas? Do we count rolling over by accident, or just when he meant to do it? Did he put the banana in his mouth on purpose, or just because he puts everything in there?

While it is very exciting to see him do something for the “first” time, unless it’s a truly unique face or word, it’s never going to be the last time, so I’ll always have another chance. Sometimes it can take a few days, but it’ll happen. When he first started eating bits of banana, he did it once, then seemed to forget how for a few weeks. Babies don’t work on the same skills all the time, and tend to do one thing a lot for a bit, then stop and do something else. This also makes the true “first” time difficult to pinpoint, because is he really doing something if he only does it once or twice, and then doesn’t do it again for awhile?

Also, he obviously doesn’t do things particularly well at first, and while his attempts can be heartbreakingly cute, it can also be frustrating. I think it took about 30 minutes for him to gnaw his way through a cookie with me, meanwhile getting it all over his face, hair, and clothes. It’ll be nice when he can just take a few bites and be done with it!

Finally, there are some firsts that I’m not too fussed about because I know he won’t remember. I spent a fair amount of time planning his first birthday, but that was more for the adults (we called it our “one year anniversary of being parents”!) And his first Christmas and Easter were cute, but I know he didn’t really care one way or another, as long as there were people to pay attention to him.

 

This first year has also been full of last times, which are more bittersweet, but at least we have a little more control over them. My last day on leave before going back to work, the last night he slept in his bassinet before switching to the crib, the last time he was in his baby stroller.
I decided when to stop breastfeeding, and made sure to get a few pictures of those last few nights, and really be present in those moments with him.

There will be more things like this in the future that we can predict, like his last night his crib before a big bed. But there are others that will be more fleeting. I don’t remember the exact last time he fell asleep nursing, or the last time he took a nap in our arms. So when I read that you have to cherish every moment (seriously, every single thing you’ll ever read about being a parent includes these words, it must be a law or something), I really try to, since for every first, there’s also a last. The first time is the first of many, and it will happen again and again. But the last time means it won’t happen ever again, and that part of “growing up” is over.

There are important milestones coming, and I’m not going to purposely be absent for them, but he’ll always be learning and doing new things (he already does certain things only for me, and other things only for my husband). I’m looking forward to his first steps, but I’m also trying hard to get these last few weeks of crawling and wobbly standing on film, knowing that the last time he crawls instead of walks to greet me at the door is right around the corner. And while we’re super excited for his growing language skills (he could just be playing with noises, but it really sounds like he can say both “cat” and the equivalent French word “chat”), his baby babbles are so funny and fleeting, I want to follow him around with a tape recorder all day.

 

I’d rather save my energy for trying to remember and capture those unexpected lasts, rather than stress about missing a few firsts.

 

 

Bébé is one!

Already my 12th monthly letter to bébé, who, at one year old, is less of a baby and more a little boy!

 

Dear bébé,

You are one!

You can push/pull yourself up to standing very easily, and stand up for a few seconds on your own. Walking didn’t happen by your birthday, but you’re so very close!

You sleep through the night most nights (7pm to at least 5am, though momma and daddy prefer when you make it to 6am). Usually you get about 30 minutes of books, a bottle, and a few songs before bed and you drift off pretty easily.

You love to smile and show off your two teeth. You love to laugh and make fart noises with your mouth on your arm (daddy’s very proud of that). Peekaboo is guaranteed to get a smile or laugh out of you.

You get about 5 minutes of “screen time” per day (weekly Skype with grandma and grandaddy doesn’t count), and you just love “Hakuna Matata” and “Make a man out of you” from momma and daddy’s favorite Disney movies. Other than that, you don’t seem too interested in the computer or television, though remote controls are still a big favorite.

You like books a lot, and you insist on turning the pages yourself, and can recognize your favorite parts. You look at the same pages over and over, trying to figure things out, or maybe you just like the colors. There’s one book with a squirrel in it, and you always give the squirrel a kiss (well, put your mouth/tongue on it, so maybe you’re trying to eat it?). When we read the book when the seal claps his hands, you clap your hands. When the animals in Goodnight Gorilla al say “goodnight” together, it makes you laugh.

You really like your little “tut tut bolides” vehicles, and you got a cool airport set for your birthday, so you’ll have lots of fun with that. You like to put small objects into bigger ones, like your nesting cups, and shake them.

You love watching daddy play bass, and always try to play a little too. At mamie’s house, you also love play the piano. Everyone is always singing to you, in French, in English, in German, in Gibberish. You got a xylophone and tambourine for your birthday, to encourage this love of music to continue.

You are working hard on your first word – “cat” ! You love our cat, though you seem a hesitant to touch him. Maybe you realize he isn’t too keen on you, or maybe you’re picking up on momma and daddy’s nervousness whenever you get near. So far, no scratches and no tail pulling . . .

Your other noises are sounding more and more like words. It changed very suddenly, going from “noises” to syllable-ish sounds and sentence-like babbling in the space of a few days.

You are fully weaned from breastfeeding. It went very smoothly, and probably could have happened a while ago, but momma liked having that closeness.

But there’s a new kind of closeness because you’re starting to cuddle and hug a lot. You can really cling now with your arms and legs, which is nice now, but will probably be troublesome later on as you get bigger and heavier!

You’ll go to the doctor’s this week for weight and height, but you seem to be following your pattern of average height and slightly lower than average weight. Tall and lean, rather than a little chubby baby. Your hair is so long now, it’s got a definite Beatles vibe, and seems to have decided to stay a light brown/dark blond. Your beautiful blue eyes are still what everyone talks about. You are seriously cute, in a handsome little man way, rather than a bald and chubby baby way.

You did very well at your birthday party, despite the 35c/95f degree heat. There were lots of people, and lots of presents, and while you mostly kind of hung out by yourself playing with the grass, you didn’t seem afraid, just chill. You only cried when the hose was brought out and the combination of cold water plus people shrieking understandably freaked you out. Your favorite present so far seems to be the SmarTrike from your uncle, which you didn’t want to get out of.

You definitely already know what you want and are vocal about it! But in general, you’re still a pretty chill baby, who deals well with new situations, is easy to smile, is easy to laugh, and who loves to play. This year has gone by so fast, but momma isn’t that sad, because the next year is sure to be even more fun! Now that you’re mobile, communicating, and interacting, everything is going to be an adventure. This summer will be so different from last year, full of visits to the pool, and the zoo, and riding bikes down the river for picnics . . .

This time last year it was two people with a new little baby. Now it feels like a family, exploring the world together!

Bisous & kisses,

your momma