We celebrated Jane’s first birthday with a family party yesterday. I was struck by two themes:
1. What a sweet and pleasant personality Jane seems to have.
2. What an ungrateful person I am. Recently I realized that I use “moody” as a euphemism for what is really ingratitude.
But let me back up. While I don’t believe God ordains every detail of our lives, I can certainly see how He’s used the circumstances of having children’s and even their personalities in my life.
With Simon, I wanted a baby for almost a year before having a healthy pregnancy. This was a big challenge to my sense of control and contentment. Then along came an energetic, strong-willed, and quintessential boy who has not gone out of his way to make me look like a good parent. He is a very fun and good-natured kid, but his classic toddler tantrums and defiance have saved me from judging other who also failed to produce naturally compliant children, on the other hand, was (TMI alert) conceived on-demand, delivered quickly, and immediately exuded an aura of peace and sweetness, at least in my maternal view. And she generally been a content and peaceful baby–by day, and a screaming little terror by night. If I began to think I could control toddler tantrums and conception of my children, I now had a new barrier to control–a baby who would not comply with my nap and nighttime sleep expectations, no matter how rigidly I followed the recommended training methods. But you’ve spent enough time this year reading about these over-stated woes and my out-of-proportion angst.
What I’m getting is that Jane was a complete doll at her birthday party, as she has been since birth. Though confused, she didn’t cry when everyone sang to her. She just looked around trying to figure it all out, kind of the same way she looked when she first opened her eye for those five minutes at a time as a newborn. She loved the smash cake and, rather than getting hyper afterward like her brother did, sort of zoned out briefly while processing the record sugar intake. She sat still on my lap to “open” all her gifts and even broke her boycott from taking steps to show off her skills. She let everyone hold her and never put up a fuss about anything.
Afterward I reflected on how much I’ve complained and struggled with her sleep stuff this year and felt like a brat. I have such a happy, healthy baby and we have so much fun together–who I am to complain? But rather than bewailing my bad attitude, I decided to just be grateful. It’s so fitting that Jane is a Thanksgiving baby because I have everything to be thankful for about her. I got a baby exactly when I wanted one, she’s “the type of baby who makes you want to have more babies,” (as per a friend with 5–surely she’s had a few of this type too!), and she’s just ridiculously cute. Lately she likes to take my hand to make me feel the textured spots in her touch and feel books. She also gives kisses to her friends, family, and stuffed animals and is starting to hold phones and phone-shaped objects to her ear. She loves to take snuggle breaks in between playing and gets so excited when Neil gets home. It appears she’s learned how to go down the stairs and dismount furniture backwards, though she can’t be trusted for consistency. As soon as I bring her a scrambled egg she starts blowing on it.
Even though she still isn’t “sleeping through the night,” I feel like I’ve survived something, and I’m grateful for that, too. The first year is a special but tough one. Now I’m excited to see my baby to become a little girl, whatever that entails. At least I don’t have to worry about doing her hair for a while! I know hindsight is 20/20, but instead of focusing on what she’s not doing or what I can’t control, I hope this Thanksgiving baby can be her ungrateful mama’s much-needed reminder to give thanks.