Let's Celebrate And Cheer: I Survived My Kid's First Year

by Colleen Nichols
first year of motherhood
valbar / iStock

I’m going to go out on a limb here—an empty limb that will easily expose me to women who enjoy pouring fuel onto the burning fires of mommy wars—but my kid’s 1st birthday party won’t be for (or about) him.

There won’t be a bounce house parked in my driveway or ridiculous cartoon decorations or mini-shrines composed of photos documenting my son’s journey through his first year of life. I won’t be spending hours on Pinterest or a fortune on Etsy planning a party for a child who still poops in his pants and enjoys licking remotes.

I won’t be investing in a fancy cake, just so my son can smash it all over his face, and as a result, take 30 minutes out of my day to clean up. I will not invest in a professional photo shoot, because by the time I get around to displaying said photos, my son will most likely be entering the first grade.

My son is turning 1 year old in a few weeks, and out of an entire playroom filled with toys that sing and dance and teach, his go-to piece is a plain, opaque Tupperware bowl—not even a new Tupperware bowl, folks. It’s a bowl that was probably brought to a cookout five years ago and ended up in the black vortex that is my Tupperware cabinet. I pulled it out months ago and offered it to him as a weak bargaining chip, hoping it would buy me enough time to boil some ramen. That was one of my first haphazard parenting wins, because he now loves that damn bowl almost as much as ripping the socks off his feet and sticking them in his mouth.

But don’t be mistaken, we will be celebrating on his birthday. But the real reason for the season is the fact that my husband and I have survived the first year as new parents. We’ve made it through a bout of postpartum depression, colic, and intense sleep deprivation. We’ve survived taking a newborn on an airplane, a 10-hour (one-way) road trip, and countless there-is-poop-on-his-shoulders-again blowouts.

I made the transition from corporate America to the role of stay-at-home-mom, a change for which I grossly underestimated the level of difficulty. The isolation alone can turn even the strongest woman into a slight basket case.

I’ve spent much of this first year of motherhood in a constant state of mild panic and uncertainty. I know I’m not alone in this, because despite the overwhelming amount of alone time, I’ve made invaluable friendships this year with women who also happen to have new babies.

We all came home from the hospital, and during that first week thought, have I made the biggest mistake of my life?!

We’ve all sat across from our husbands at the dinner table with red eyes and dried spit-up on the shoulders of the same shirts we’d been wearing for days and wondered if the romance was dead and gone.

We’ve all called our moms on particularly rough days, in tears, begging for them to come help because of our certainty that we weren’t cut out for any of this.

We’ve all felt moments of sadness and despair and experienced a deep sense of longing for time before motherhood.

We’ve all felt the shame of not enjoying every single moment, and we’ve all resisted the urge to dropkick the old ladies in the grocery store who wax and wane poetic about “how quickly it alvl goes.” We know it’s true, but when you’re in the trenches, it’s not a concept you can comprehend.

And before you brand me The Most Heartless Mother in America, it should go without saying that we’ve also all experienced the firsts that make our hearts explode with happiness, the baby giggles that melt away all the anxiety, and a million other little moments that make it all worth it.

But still.

For all the second-guessing of myself that I’ve done in my first year of motherhood, I can tell you one thing for certain: You won’t find me doting over the details of a birthday party, because I’ll be too busy drinking mimosas.