This Mother’s Day I would like to share my thoughts, memories and stories about my first year of motherhood. Of course, it wouldn’t be possible to fit it all into one post but I thought it would be fun to do it in the format of the alphabet, so here we go.
A – Alaric Alexander. The process of picking the name for our son was challenging. We had so many conditions: it had to be international, sound good in both English and Russian, ideally with some cultural heritage, either Scandinavian or Russian; unique, have a good meaning, yada yada yada, you can pretty much tell it was not an easy task. I heard the name Alaric (pronounced as “ah-LAR-ik”) on the TV show and thought it sounded interesting. The more I researched and played with the idea, the more I liked the name, I think it’s beautiful and unique just like our boy. Since the name Alaric is not a very common, a lot of people seem to get puzzled by it but it’s actually really easy to pronounce once you’ve said it couple of times. At home we call Alaric Rishka.
B – Breastfeeding. I knew from the beginning that this is something I really wanted to commit to. Difficult and painful at first, it was totally worth the trouble, luckily these days there are many helpful tools to aid in breastfeeding, I shared my favorite ones in this post. I really started to enjoy it over time, it was so special, sweet and cozy. I successfully nursed Alaric for a year and we finished shortly after his first birthday, weaning off was totally smooth and stressless for both of us.
C – Cuteness. There is just an impossible cuteness overload that comes with the new baby. Everything from smiles and giggles to messy cheeks covered in some type of food is just so unbearably cute.
D – Dada. Alaric is so lucky to have gotten Derek as his dada. I could not hope for more caring, loving, helpful, playful and fun father for my child. He totally deserves the fact that “da-da” was Alaric’s first word.
E – Experience. As in everything, it comes with time and practice. While still in the hospital I was terrified to go home because I didn’t know what am I going to do with this human being I am now responsible for, I had no idea how to take care of him. Slowly but surely with daily practice things were getting easier and now I feel pretty good about handling everyday baby chores and even managing to find time for myself, for Derek, for my blog and other things.
F – Fun. Having a kid is so much fun! Even single day you have to figure out a million different things and you better find a way to have fun with it. Not even mentioning that the most basic activity becomes so much more entertaining when experienced with a kid. You get to look at things from your baby’s perspective and it’s so fascinating that he’s got SO much ahead of him to experience and explore. Despite a lot of people’s view of the parenthood being the end of fun times, it really is another beginning. We had tons of fun going to Disneyland, Pumpkin Patch, and more even though Alaric was so small.
G – Grandparents. Alaric is lucky to have two sets of wonderful grandparents but unfortunately both of them are far away. Despite that I really hope that Alaric will have many opportunities to spend time with them and will remember them as an integral part of his childhood. Fortunately, he got to meet both of them in his first year. Parents who have family nearby to help out are so lucky, I hope they appreciate it as much as we would.
H – Happiness. I always believed that happiness is in the small things but having a child brings to a whole new level. There are just so many reasons to feel happy, even with all the stress that comes from juggling having a small child with everything else in life. One moment you are sitting there all stressed and exhausted and then bam! a smile or an excited baby coo relieve it all in a second and here you are smiling and feeling so happy and at ease.
I – I. The essence of “I” totally dissolves in “he” or “she” or maybe “us” during the first year. It doesn’t mean there is no more you but the focus definitely shifts to make sure that the baby is first and foremost taken care of. Everything you do from the moment you have a child changes to include him. There’s no more I’m just going to getaway for a week, I am just going to sleep in, etc. It’s not impossible to find time for yourself but it just takes more preparation.
J – Journal. I loved reading my mom’s journal about me when I was little. I really wanted to have one for Alaric as well but it’s so difficult to find time or energy to sit down and write a whole page here and there about how everything is going. That’s why I love this daily journal Mom’s One Line A Day. Just couple of sentences every day help keep memories of the smallest but sweetest family moments.
K – Kisses. Can’t stop, won’t stop. Those marshmallow cheeks alone get hundreds kisses a day.
L – Laughter. Laughter makes this crazy motherhood ride so much easier. It’s such a great stress relief. We have so many inside jokes, silly songs and funny habits that I really love. Laughing together is definitely one of my favorite things ever.
M – Mom. I love being a mom. Not only because of the mind-blowing fact that I was able to grow a whole new human inside of me but also the fact there is somebody who needs me so much, that I will be the one he would come to get a hug and wipe his tears, laugh at his cute facial expressions, encourage him, feel proud of his accomplishments, it is so special that I get to be his mom, not anybody else, me! It is such an honor. It feels so good to know that I am so loved and needed.
N – Neighborhood. Before I had the baby I actually never went around the other corner of my block, which now seems crazy. We always liked to walk around and explore but somehow we always followed the same path in other direction. With the daily stroller walks I discovered the whole other side of my neighborhood and now I must have gone all around our area a hundred times.
O – Optimism. Being a mom is a very emotional journey and being in a positive and optimistic mindset makes such a huge difference. It’s not always easy but it’s totally worth it, trust me.
P – Photographs. I am so happy that keeping moments and memories is so easy these days. One of my favorite things to do is to go through old photos. Every time I visit my parents’ home I go through some old albums. Seeing my parents the way they were when I was little is so fascinating! I am so excited for Alaric to see these moments when he is older. I do it of myself too, it’s so easy to forget stuff, having photos is awesome.
Q – Quality Time. A lot of times it means to disconnect from everything else, put that damn phone down and focus on the present moment with your child. To play together or just watch him and be there whenever he glances at you. Sometimes during peaceful moments when he seems really into his toys and there seems to be free time that could be used to catch up with the world but it’s good to stop and focus on what’s actually important here and take the time to appreciate this quiet moment that will be gone so soon.
R – Routine. Establishing routine in the first year is so important. It’s different for every family but it really helps balance things out and make sure there is time for everything. It makes it easier for you to plan some activities and time for yourself. Babies also like to know what’s coming and it makes it easier for everyone. Alaric knows that there’s always walk, playtime, snack, bath time, dinner, cuddles and story time and then bed time.
S – Sleep. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed sleep so much. In the first year Alaric slept through the night twice, even the above said routine doesn’t make him sleep through the night. It’s not that bad really but overall the fact that you can’t always sleep when you feel like it makes those short times when you can so much more amazing. It’s like that feeling when your alarm is going off and instead of getting up you shut it down and go back to sleep, sooooo goooood!
T – Time. You want it to slow down to enjoy the fleeting moments little longer: the strong grip of tiny fingers, those long cuddles he can’t resist yet, but on the other hand, you are so excited for the next stage when he smiles/crawls/walks/talks you just can’t wait. You want free time to do something for yourself and when you get it, you can’t stop thinking about him and wonder what he is up to and how he is feeling. You want to get away just for a few hours and miss him terribly in the process.
U – Unpredictable. You never know what your life as a parent is going to be like, what kind of personality your child is going to have, what will your regular day be like, motherhood is definitely an adventure.
V – Videos. Videos are probably even more awesome than photos. It is such a joy to be able to look back and remember sweet times, voices, see things the way they were then. For now, video is probably the closest thing to time machine.
W – Work. Going back to work after maternity leave was bittersweet. One one hand, I was excited to get back to socializing, being productive, dressing up. On the other hand, the time spent home with my baby in the first 3 months of his life was so special and leaving him with somebody else during the day seemed so crazy. Now I can definitely say that if I had a chance to stay home with him longer, I totally would. That whole working mom thing is honestly so exhausting.
X – There really should be more words starting with X.
Y – Year. This first year of motherhood has been very challenging but also extremely rewarding and happy. I am so so blessed.
Z – Zucchini. The only food Alaric straight up hated when we first started solids.
This is just a tiny part of what mom’s life is like. Being a mom is such a transformative experience in so many ways, every day I learn so much about myself, about life, about my son, I am so happy to be a mom.
P.S. Call your mom.