Parenthood is the ultimate plot twist. It starts out as trying to protect a helpless little baby from the big bad world, providing everything she needs to survive until one day she turns into a clever, strong-willed child with a mind of her own, and then it’s the parents who need help surviving.
My baby turns five soon. So naturally I’ve been looking back on my first five years as a parent. It’s mind-boggling to think how much living and learning this tiny person has brought along with her. I keep hearing my mom’s voice in the back of my head like a mantra, “It’ll get easier. It’ll get easier…” Yes mama, it has gotten easier, but it’s gotten much harder in much different ways.
The first year of my daughter’s life was based on survival, hers more than mine, but both of ours together. I remember not knowing a damn thing about being a parent and having to figure everything out from scratch and on very little sleep. My only goals were to make sure she was fed, clean, and happy. It was a ton of work, but I remembering loving (almost) every minute of it.
The second year of my daughter’s life was based on safety, in the most basic definition of the word. This was when she was unsteady on her feet and charging the world like a wild stallion–fearless and curious and full of wonder. My only goals were to make sure she was fed, clean, and didn’t crack open her head.
The third year of my daughter’s life was based on surrender, meaning I had to give up a little bit of control. This was when she started preschool, interacting with other kids, being exposed to more than just our little bubble. My only goals were to make sure she was fed, clean, and didn’t bite anyone.
The fourth year of my daughter’s life was based on surprise, meaning I was surprised at just how difficult she could be. This was when she really started to come into her own–her own ideas, her own choices, her own way of doing things. My only goals were to make sure she was fed, clean, and that I didn’t strangle her for never listening to me.
The fifth year…well, that’s this year ahead of us. I’m not sure what it will be based on yet or what all it holds for her, but I’m hopeful that it’s full of love and lots of laughter. Because if I know my daughter it definitely will be. There’s nothing she loves more than making us laugh, and there’s nothing I love more than laughing with her.