Photo: Erin Lem

When my son was born I was constantly told to enjoy this phase, it all passes so fast. I would smile and nod, but really wanted to ask: do you even remember what having an infant is like?? Time—especially the hours between 3 and 5 a.m. when it was just him and I nestled on the couch—felt like molasses. I was nursing around the clock and running on the adrenaline of new motherhood.

Those early days turned into weeks and those weeks turned into months. And, somehow we’re at a year. After 12 months of long days, even longer nights and plenty of laughter and tears from both of us, I am starting to grasp what those women were trying to tell me.

So to preserve all the glory, sentiment and nuances of one year, here is exactly how I felt at 365 days of motherhood.

One year is:

…encouraging their risk-taking while keeping them safe (um, please do not try to climb over the back of the couch!)

…making a mental check list of all the awesome places you want to take them when they’re just a little bit older (Yosemite! Japan! Vancouver!)

…watching in glee as they slowly start to piece things together and start to understand the world around them.

…leading by example. Broccoli is delicious!

…trying your best to live in the moment.

…obsessing over sleep and nap schedule (guilty as charged).

…cheering them on as they accomplish so many amazing little things that probably don’t matter to anyone except you (or the grandparents). Whoa, you are SO good at stacking boxes!! I can’t believe you just put the square block into the square hole!! Way to go!!!

…still a little in awe when he says, mom. Wait, that’s me!

…feeling a bit relieved when they’re off to daycare and you can 100% focus on your workday, but then five minutes later feeling guilty about your feeling of relief.

…accepting that this mom guilt thing is real.

…so many firsts

…wondering what sort of mother you will become, and what “st‌yle” of parenting will work best for your kid.

…excitement about parenting and making decisions with your partner because it’s so awesome to do new things together.

…elation when your friends tell you they’re pregnant. You are just so excited to have another pal join you in the mom world.

…trying to make the best decisions every day for you and your family—from the mundane of what socks will actually stay on those tiny feet to what feels like the colossal, where do we actually want to live and raise him?

…staying up past their bedtime mindlessly scrolling on my phone because finally…alone time and it’s nice to have a new minutes to space out!

…reading all day, every day, usually the same books again and again and again.

….hiding their favorite book for an hour because you just can’t deal with reading Dear Zoo one more time.

…sleep regressions because teething, sickness, travel, (fill in your own blank).

…middle of the night snuggles—sometimes for longer than you know you should—because you know they won’t want to cuddle you forever.

…laughing inside when your friends without kids suggest you all grab dinner at 7:30 p.m.

…summoning every ounce of patience stored inside you.

…getting sucked into the Facebook mom message boards and finding support and camaraderie with strangers.

…accepting that whatever good or challenging thing is currently happening that it’s just a phase.

…and then fondly remembering those phases like they were just yesterday (because they were just yesterday).

…gawking at acne-covered teenagers at the grocery store because you know they’ll be that age someday, and it’s totally bizarre to imagine.

…getting sentimental every month when you pack away clothes they outgrew.

…actually realizing you have a sentimental side.

…accepting the ridiculous amount of stuff you’ve accumulated.

…and then realizing they just really want to play with in your Tupperware drawer.

…the thrill of watching them learn something new.

…scrolling through old photos from just a few months ago when it’s 11 p.m. and you should be in bed sleeping.

…narrating everything in sight because your pediatrician said this is the year of cognitive and emotional development. And, you are still green enough to listen to everything your pediatrician—and Google—says.

…watching their face light up when they taste something sweet (apple sauce!)

…front-pack carrier snuggles.

…wondering if those under eye bags will ever go away.

…putting together photo books because you know that if you don’t do it now, it never will happen.

…embracing the annoying singing toys because it brings them so much joy.

…the deep belly laugh only an unabashed baby can have.

…buying new, cute clothes even though you know they’ll wear them for (maybe) two months.

…giving them new foods and watching half of it end up on the floor…or with the dog.

…getting creative in the kitchen with snacks and finger foods.

…cutting up grapes into tiny slices because you’re that overprotective first-time mom.

…seeing one nursing bra after another bite the dust. #itsasign

…being excited about their future, and yours with them in it.

…saying yes to things even though you know it’s going to be harder with a squirmy kid.

…rare nights out without them where you love your freedom (Wine! Conversation! A real sit down meal!) but still obsessively check the nest cam.

…resisting screen time but then relenting when you need them to sit still for 5 minutes.

…realizing they got their dance moves from you. Sorry, kid.

…picking your battles.

…a year’s worth of sleep deprivation and wondering at 4 a.m. if you could—or even should—ever do this again.

…trying to remember all the mundane daily stuff because one day it won’t seem so mundane.

Happy first birthday! We made it!

featured image: Erin Lem