On my daughter's first birthday, someone asked me to use one word to describe the past year of my life. The first year of hers. It's difficult to summarize the hopes, fears, dreams, nightmares, laughter, tears, disappointment, amazement, aggravation, and exhilaration of the first 365 days of parenthood in just one word. So many come to mind.
First off: exhausting. And we don't even have a baby who's a bad sleeper. She's been clocking 10-12 hours a night since she was almost three months old. Regardless, we are tired all of the time. The weekend can't come fast enough, and those are sometimes busier than the weekdays.
I can't tell you how many times I think to myself, "I used to do that" when my co-workers talk about sleeping in on Saturday and lying around all day. Or having a wild night of drinking. Parenthood is just too damn exhausting to have a hangover. My daughter won't allow it. She deserves us at our best. Well-rested, and ready to go. That is, as well-rested as possible. But still, a nap would be nice.
A lot of parents feel they are blessed. And I feel the same way, but I felt blessed before Penelope arrived. With a wife, a job, a home, a family, a dog, 4 World Series titles in 5 years, and the 2003 NCAA Basketball Championship.
Another word that popped into my mind: entertaining. Now that her little personality is starting to shine, there is no better amusement than just watching her be her. Cruising around the apartment, talking her wacky language, making herself laugh, then making us laugh, which makes her laugh more. Very entertaining.
But as I look back on the past year, I find it all so interesting. Interesting that we are really raising a child! There is actually a little person asleep in the next room! Don't you find that remarkably interesting? She does new things every day. New faces. New sounds. New actions. New words. She's taking steps, and falling on her ass. So interesting (and entertaining)!
Sometimes she puts her face in the dog's water dish. She says "aahhh" after she takes a drink when I'm around, because that's what I do after I take a drink (not from the dog's dish, of course). Isn't it interesting how they mimic you?
Her reactions are interesting too. You should have seen the look on her face when I walked into the apartment on Ash Wednesday with a black cross smeared on my forehead. She couldn't take her eyes off it! She wanted to touch it so badly, but was a little afraid,. She found it so interesting!!
It's interesting what she finds interesting. My blackberry. The bathroom. My wife's cell phone. Earrings. The remote control. The musical turtle in her crib. Eyeglasses. Cheerios. Luna. Salsa music.
I am amazed by my daughter. I find everything she does, from the cutest most angelic smile, to the foulest most offensive poop, interesting. The past year has indeed been exhausting, and at the same time entertaining, but I feel I have become more insightful, introspective. Despite the mayhem, Penelope has made me calmer, gentler.
It took a child who can't even form sentences to teach me what's really important in life. Isn't that interesting?