James' First Year in Review: Part 3

You guys!  Today, July 22, I am a mere month away from my due date for our second little guy!  Eeeek!!  The time has just flown by and I can hardly believe I we are this close already.  Very soon I'd like to share some thoughts on what pregnancy has been like the second time around (outside America!!) and how I've been mentally and emotionally preparing for childbirth and having a newborn all over again.

However, I'm one of those gals who likes to finish what she starts, so before I get into all of that I've got the final installment of my Top 12 thoughts and lessons I learned during James' first year.  Be sure to also check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them.

James' (and his Mom's) First Year: Our Top 12

9. Cuddles are the best, cherish them.  I was pretty concerned with sleep training James and not letting him get attached to falling asleep in my arms, but now I sometimes wish I would have cuddled tiny, sleeping James more than I did. Don't get me wrong, I did cuddle with my little guy a lot!!  But I didn't realize how unique and short-lived those everlasting newborn/little baby cuddles are.  James is now actually a pretty affectionate little boy (in my opinion) and likes to climb up and give us a quick cuddle, hug, or kiss, but it lasts for about 3 seconds these days and then he's off again.  

10. Toys are overrated before age 1.  Seriously!  While I'm not a total hippy minimalist and we owned our fair share of infant toys that James enjoyed prior to his first birthday, seeing the transformation in how James engages with toys now (after age 1) versus before has made me a pretty big believer in this.  We kept our toy collection for his first year pretty minimal intentionally since we knew we would be moving across the world when James was 10 months old and not able to take much with us.  I ended up bringing with us almost everything we owned in the toy department, which was basically a handful of plush / teething toys, 10+ board books, and a play mat with dangly toys (but I mostly brought this along for our next baby, since James had already grown out of it by the time we got here).  Up to age 10 months, that minimal amount of toys/books had definitely been enough to keep him engaged!  What I noticed from ages 10-12 months (after we got to Brunei and he was crawling), is that he became far more engaged in exploring his surroundings than in playing with the toys we brought along.  He was way more content continuously opening and closing the TV cabinet sliding door or unloading my tupperware drawer in the kitchen and banging and building with tupperware containers and lids than doing anything else.  For his first birthday we got him some age-appropriate learning toys (like stacking cups, hammering tower, and "put the rings on the dowel" type toys) and he was ready and excited to play with and engage with them.  But for the 0-12 month span, it seems like he 1) first hardly engaged with his surroundings and preferred interacting with people over toys, 2) then just wanted to put everything in his mouth, though it didn't really matter what as long as it wasn't dangerous or a choking hazard, so a small number of toys was fine, and 3) finally had just as much fun exploring everything around him that wasn't a toy!

11. Learn to be interruptible.  Before I was ever a mom myself, I came across Tille Olsen's quote, "More than in any other human relationship, overwhelmingly more, motherhood means being instantly interruptible, responsive, responsible."  Now I know firsthand how true this statement is, and it continues to be a skill I am learning and growing in as a naturally task-oriented person.  I was reminded of the importance of being easily interruptible just a few weeks ago.  James woke up from his afternoon nap with a fever of 103 (so I expected him to be a little more needy than usual) but he was relatively happy and content to play and I had a huge pile of dirty dishes to tackle.  So we both ended up in the kitchen, me working on the dishes and James playing with pots + pans and tupperware at my feet.  James played contently by himself for quite a while and I got most of the dishes done.

When I was rinsing the last load he started to whine and cry.  I tried to continue rinsing (I was almost done!!) while talking to him in a soothing voice, trying to determine what he was whining about and calm him down, but his cries became more persistent and desperate and so I stopped mid-rinse, dried my hands off, and squatted down to meet his eyes and ask him what was the matter.  He immediately stopped crying, held out the pitcher he had been playing with to me, and once I took ahold of it, he continued playing with it, placing the lid on and pulling it back off over and over.  In my pregnant state it's not very comfortable for me to remain squatting for very long, so after a few seconds I sat down completely onto the floor and next thing I knew James had wriggled his way onto my lap and just sat down and kept playing with the pitcher.  He continued to play as he had been before, now just content to sit on my lap doing so, and we had a sweet little mother-son moment right there on the kitchen floor.  If I had not been attentive to James in that moment and decided it was more important to not be interrupted and finish rinsing the dishes, I could have missed out on the opportunity to sit and play with him.

(Now I do realize that sometimes, parents really do need to get things done and it's not appropriate to always be interrupted by your child. I also believe it is important for children to learn boundaries and that the world doesn't revolve around their every desire, but I'm learning it's all about finding balance between teaching James when it is appropriate for him to wait and when what I'm doing can wait and he deserves to have my attention.)

12. A parent's love is fierce.  It is like no other love I have known before.  My love for James is nurturing and protective, full of pride, and joyfully sacrificial.  It is such an honor and blessing to understand more fully how my parents love me, and a privilege to experience God's amazing fatherly love and be able pass that on to my son.  My words fall short in expressing this one.  But I assure you, it is an amazing love.    

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