Just a little more than a year ago, I had a very remarkable President's Day. It started at 4 am with my wife, who was 9 months pregnant at the time, nudging me awake. It ended in a hospital room with Kiersten in her bed, me in a recliner, and a small, beautiful six pound baby girl swaddled snoozing in a cart between us. We named her Emma.
I wrote this in my original post about our first week home:
The past 7 days have been a single, long, wonderful day. Day and night have blurred together; quiet times and crying times, sleepy times and cuddling times, lots of diapers and burpings, and mom and dad promising to take a nap themselves, always tomorrow.
In many ways, the past year feels like that first week. The days have blurred together and sped right along, and it's hard to believe that same small, swaddled baby is now standing up and pushing buttons on her activity table, turning pages on books as we read them to her, stealing the tv remote, and looking very much like a little girl.
This upcoming weekend is Emma's 1st birthday party, complete with a theme (jungle animals!) and a small smash cake for her to demolish. I'm really looking forward to it! It's also put me in a retrospective mood thinking about the past year, and the changes that came with it.
One of the many perks of having a baby is that you get to redefine what is meant by normal adult behavior. Case in point:
Earlier today I was lying on the kitchen floor, on my back, with my feet up on the garbage can lid. Pre-baby, this probably would have been cause for concern for my wife, but with Emma merrily pushing her blocks around my head and occasionally stopping to grab my nose, it seemed the place to be.
This really extends to the whole range of activities you probably haven't done since you were a child: lying on your stomach playing with blocks while Saturday morning cartoons are on; reading rhyming Dr. Seuss books; actually making the animal sounds ("moo!") or the train sounds ("choo choo!") when you read them aloud; making raspberry sounds with your lips and funny faces just because it's silly - all perfectly fine when you're doing them with your toddler. Having a kid renews your license to be a kid.
It's also fun that this is contagious. Emma has an assortment of blocks, disks, and rings to stack. Right now she likes to take them apart much more than put them together. Any adult who visits and finds himself in front of them for a length of time will unknowingly begin to assemble them. Colorful blocks with holes, the pegged wooden framework of a train waiting to be complete - it's irresistible.
But, aside from rejuvenating your inner child, having a child also makes you want to stretch your grown up side, too. You'll want to be better than your pre-baby self - a better teacher and example, more patient, more flexible, and just an all around more grown up version of yourself. But, interestingly enough, you'll do this all while being more of a kid than you've been in years.
I considered writing about all of the wonderful ways things that have changed, but I realized I didn't have the words - I'm not sure how to sum up the joy of spending a weekend playing on the floor with Emma and Kiersten, making airplane sounds while spooning baby food as the three of us eat dinner together as a family, hearing Emma's laugh, seeing her excitement when she discovers something new, or just watching her turn pages as I read a book to her at the end of the day - so I've written just a few musings for today. Now, I've got some birthday party tables and chairs to set up!