“We held you & loved you from the moment you came into this world & if you forget, we are here to remind you as many times as you need.” (Brian Andreas)
First of all, I hope reading this title puts the opening song from Rent in your head. If it doesn’t, please go Youtube the song and listen to it immediately. As I finally found a chance to begin writing to reflect on my first year of motherhood and Ezra’s first year of life, this was the song that came to mind.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles
In laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life
How do you measure a year in the life? It’s been the longest shortest year. I feel like anyone reflecting on their first year as a parent will understand what I mean by that. The first 6 months when E only slept 3-4 hour stretches at a time (one time he slept 5 and I woke up in a panic thinking something had happened to him), but I honestly thought I wasn’t going to make it. Everyone kept telling me that he would sleep and that I would sleep again, but those first 6 months, I did not believe it. The first time he slept through the night, I only slept for 6 hours and couldn’t go back to sleep, but it was victorious and glorious.
What kept me going and sane was that he was otherwise a very happy and easy going baby…and he still is. I count my blessings around that every day and every night as I put him to sleep. Oh, and just for the record, he sleeps for 10-11 hours every night now with an occasional restless night. It’s a MIRACLE.
Becoming a mother this past year was just that…it was becoming. People would tell me before I was a mom that I was a natural mother, but when you have your first child at 37 years old, it comes with what I would guess as a bigger transition in some ways. When you’ve lived your life with just you and maybe a partner for that long, you really know who you are, what you like, and how you function. And although I had always wanted to be a mother as previous posts will indicate, I wasn’t quite prepared for the loss that comes with that new identity too. I hope I don’t sound like I’m complaining. I love E and can’t imagine life without him, but everyone expects you to be super happy about being a mother and no one asks you about what feels hard and what is lost with that new identity. And I guess I didn’t like to really talk about it either because I felt like I was being ungrateful or that maybe it would sound like I didn’t love my son with a depth of love I’ve never experienced. But I want to put it out there that there were and sometimes still are moments where I feel some kind of loss. Basically, no decision I ever make, EVER, is just about me anymore. As I began this post, I was literally eating sliced cheese and tortilla chips as a late lunch after feeding my son a gourmet meal and putting him down for his afternoon nap…on my day off.
But along with my truth and my own process of becoming again with its growing pains, every minute this past year, however hard, however joyful, are minutes I wouldn’t trade for the world. And although I wouldn’t have thought it was possible, I love E more and more every single day.
And in this horrible political climate and bizarre time in our country and world, a time where my heart aches almost every time I read the news, what has kept me going, sane, and hope-filled is this little child of mine. He reminds me and teaches me to see life for what it is, to live each moment fully, to laugh, explore, try, and be willing to be held by someone else. He is the reason I never forget to say a prayer at night. He is the reason I have measured this year in love, despite the messages of hate that surround us. He is the reason why I feel more convicted that we must work for love and change and justice with some measure of courage because I need things to be better for him…and for all children born in this time.
So, in case one day E grows up and cares about what his Umma had to say about year one, here’s also a note for him.
I stared at a blinking cursor for about 5 solid minutes before I decided to type and tell you that I stared at a blinking cursor for 5 solid minutes. Trying to think of the words to say to you to express everything you could mean to me in this first year of your life is overwhelming and all I can tell you is that I have so many feelings rushing over me right now. You are my love bug, my baby, my beautiful boy.
You have brought incredible life and nonstop joy to me and your Appa. Every night, before we go to bed, we reflect on the day and talk about what you did and watch my Instagram stories, yes, the ones that disappear after 24 hours, and yes, the same videos of you playing, eating, and doing something silly. Even after you’re asleep, we can’t get enough of you. You remind us that there is so much to be grateful for, and we make sure we acknowledge that every single day.
At one year old, you officially have 8 teeth (!), you wave, high five, manseh (lift hands up), pray (praying hands) at meals, and blow kisses. You shake your body to music, and recently you started shooting baskets into a little hoop you got for your birthday. You love trucks (pick up trucks, dump trucks, or UPS trucks), airplanes, birds, and dogs, and will always make an excited “ooo ooo” sound while pointing at them when you see any of these things. You LOVE BALLS and we are pretty sure your first word where you associate it is “baaa” for ball. You’re not a fan of stuffed animals. You prefer real objects over your toys in general. You love books. You love when people read to you and you have your favorites that rotate on a regular basis.
You can say “Umma” and “Appa” but you don’t specifically call us by those names but instead will randomly say it. You do whisper “up” now when you want to be held. You always whisper it. Ever since you began laughing, I’ve always been able to make you laugh. Appa, not so much, but you’re starting to finally think he’s funny too. I am guessing you’re going to be left-handed like your Appa, but only time will tell! You go back and forth with your hands a lot.
You love being outside.
We are pretty sure you are an extrovert. You love being around people, definitely get energized by them, and could keep going and going if I would let you. Sometimes, it takes me putting you into a darkened room and holding you for you to realize how tired you are, and then you literally crash in my arms.
You can sit through most of a church service (much to the happiness of your church family).
You seem cautious in general. You’re not walking yet and it took you a long time to figure out how to crawl on hands and knees and pull yourself up. You were an army crawl champion for a long time though and you can still move super fast that way. You never minded being on your belly and you prefer to sleep on your belly now.
Your bedtime ritual consists of us putting on pajamas, giving you a bottle, reading you some books, and then hugging and waving goodnight to Appa. We then go to your room and sing “Jesus Loves Me, Twinkle Twinkle and ABC” and then you go to sleep.
So far this year, we discovered that you’re allergic to peanuts and massively allergic to sesame. We found out about the sesame allergy one week before your birthday and were in urgent care for hours after your massive reaction. An epipen probably saved your life. I had never been so scared since you’ve been born. I had given you hummus and apparently, it was the tahini in it. I spent that night laying on the ground next to your crib to listen to your breathing per the doctor’s suggestion, just in case. I’m glad we found out, but we are also pretty bummed because almost everything in Korean food has sesame or sesame oil in it. We are just so glad you’re okay.
Anyway, those are some of the things we want to remember.
I want to close with this poem that was given to me at one of my baby showers…it made me emotional then, but now that you’re here, it speaks a louder truth in a beautiful way that I can’t do on my own. It says:
I am your parent you are my child
I am your quiet place, you are my wild
I am your calm face, you are my giggle
I am your wait, you are my wiggle
I am your audience, you are my clown
I am your London Bridge, you are my falling down
I am your carrot sticks, you are my licorice
I am your dandelion, you are my first wish
I am your water wings, you are my deep
I am your open arms, you are my running leap
I am your way home, you are my new path
I am your dry towel, you are my wet bath
I am your dinner, you are my chocolate cake
I am your bedtime, you are my wide awake
I am your finish line, you are my race
I am your praying hands, you are my saving grace
I am your favourite book, you are my new lines
I am your nightlight, you are my sunshine
I am your lullaby, you are my peek-a-boo
I am your kiss goodnight, you are my I love you
(Maryann K Cusimano)
Thank you for making me a mom, Ezra. Happy 1st Birthday, baby. I love you.
P.S. All of these pictures were taken on the day of your 1st birthday, close to the time you were actually born.
Photos by QuiannaMarie Photography