Here it is, tomorrow marks one whole year for our baby boy. In reality this is just a date on the calendar but if you've been here before, you know it is a big deal. A (sleepless) year we've kept our first born baby alive and survived parenthood thus far. At this time last year, we were relaxing as much as we could and trying to enjoy our last (quiet) moments as two, but so anxious to meet the little person that was going to change our lives forever. Little did we know that at 4 am that night/morning would we have signs of your arrival. I was scared. I didn't know what to expect. I had plenty of experience with children before so I had thought this to be somewhat easy, but there is so much more of the unknown. It is true when they say time flies, but there are some days it seems to hold still. One moment it feels like you're always going to cling to me until I blink and you're walking across the room. In this year alone I have learned so much and personally stretched in ways I never knew I could. I am certain there will be more to absorb as the years go on, but here are some thoughts I have gathered in this time.
As you go through life, some friends change and some remain a constant. As a teenager that was a hard concept for me to understand because we would be best friends forever, right? Well now I see how some relationships can drift with life leading the dynamics in different directions and interests can change. That is just a small part going into the "real world" and getting married. Add in children and your social life is very much different if existent at all. Leaving the house is an event that requires thoughtful effort and when you do make it out, it seems like the time clock is constantly ticking. After awhile, it just is easier to stick to your routine (especially if you've found a groove) and stay home. Finding a balance between being a social butterfly and accepting the new lifestyle of parenthood is tough. Frankly, it sucks to miss out but then that is where your mama tribe comes in. They will have a similar schedule to you and can hang out at 10am on a weekday or text at the most random hours. However, not all of my tribe is made of moms. I'm incredibly fortunate to have friends who don't have children, but are more than willing to help at a moment's notice, eat an early dinner like senior citizens so I can come before bedtime, and lift me when I feel completely exhausted. These girls fill in the gaps where the void of my mom holds strong. They make the holidays extra special and love on him with the asian culture (it's really more comedy for us) so he doesn't have to miss out. That kind of social life is worth hanging onto.
The moment I became a mother, I felt like I was given new skin. It was like all of a sudden I had so many choices to make; many that would affect him at the current moment and some that would impact him forever. It was a large undertaking so learning to trust myself in making the right decisions is still something I am currently working on, but you do begin to truly find your grit as a mother and woman. Although I knew there would be a lot of offered advice on how to raise my children, nobody stressed to me how many different opinions would come my way about everything. I have to be honest and say I question myself all the time. Even with confirmation from "professionals", I would be afraid I was harming my son. That is a silly way to feel! Let's just say this new skin I have is becoming pretty thick. He is my son and I am doing the best I know how to. That should be enough. I spent a large portion of his life doubting everything because of the criticism I would receive about his size and what I choose to feed or not to feed him. He is not perfect, I will gladly admit that, but he is exactly where he needs to be and I am proud of trusting my instinct and him for developing like he has. (I have to do a mini celebration that he's never been sick! Go Liem!) Some days it feels like I have lost the "me" I have always been, but I can boldly say most days I feel I have grown into a stronger me.
I have also learned to trust Liem. In the first year you are given all of these milestones to meet and charts for your child to fit in which can start to get overwhelming especially when you miss one, so then you start doing "research". I will say this right now: it goes down a dark hole of worry. The best thing I have ever done for myself is to let go and let him be. So he's started standing and I'm worried he's going to fall backwards? After a few falls, he learned to slowly lower himself down every single time. He's starting to climb down things headfirst? He learned really quickly you turn yourself around and go legs first. It's amazing to watch your baby learn and discover the world surrounding him- it's so beautiful and blows my mind. The sitting will come, the walking will come, etc. even without the propping and walker gadgets. When he is ready for the next step, he will just do it and it's just incredible to witness! This is certainly not an easy thing for me to do pre-Liem as I love to hover and worry, but this year has given me the tools to just be patient and trust!
For our marriage, parenting really threw us some curveballs as a unit. If you thought newlywed life was challenging, buckle in the for the ride as new parents. Some days you are not going to be on the same page mixed with exhaustion and it just wears down the flow of the team. There are moments when you feel all alone, and there are times when leaning on each other is the only answer. This is where the 50/50 partnership ends. Some days you don't have anything left and your husband has to pick up all the slack. You guys, grace is where it's at. Without it, I am not sure I would even have a marriage. You have to know where to give in different situations because the fight is not worth it anymore and I honestly believe this fortifies the foundation of our marriage. Adam, watching you become a father and taking the journey of parenthood with you has been one of the best adventures we have ever been on. Our son is one lucky boy to have you raising him.
It has never been more apparent to me that I am a sinner. Being married may highlight a few of my flaws, but being a mother puts it all on the stage. I have seen firsthand the impact of my sin on Liem and gosh, it definitely makes you want to reevaluate your heart and pray for change. Earlier in this year, I would find myself struggling with how I was still going to have all of my cake and eat it to. I began to learn quickly that it does not go that way. Sometimes you have to give some of that cake to your baby and it's the most grateful selflessness you can offer. I may not have thought so at the time, but as you can see, hearts DO change! :)
I used to find satisfaction in busy. I had this idea that a productive day of knocking things off the list was good for the soul. When I could not achieve that goal anymore because we did not have a routine, or when we were just so exhausted from the night before, I would be so irritated with myself. Now, my heart has found pure joy in pausing and enjoying those little moments, finding excitement in the smallest things, and relishing in doing nothing but spending time together.
When I was planning this post, I didn't really have a direction for it or know exactly what I wanted to write. There was so much feeling to express I could barely sort it out. There just aren't enough words or the right ones to accurately convey these moments and what I have learned from them. This may not have been my most eloquent post, but it sure is the most raw. Being Liem's mom has been the most humbling, heart-shaping, and captivating experience I have ever felt and I cannot be more grateful for this job. Even on the days when I feel like I have completely flopped on balancing it all, one look at him and I know all is well. As I am tired and hope for good sleep again one day, I am so inspired by the entirety of motherhood. Liem, I pray you know what a treasure you are to us. Being chosen to be your parents is a privilege we will not take for granted. Happy First Birthday, our little dumpling, cub, and bubba!
For all of the photographers that have documented his first year of life, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. I am forever grateful to have these beautiful photos to look back on and see how much our little boy has grown!