Isn’t it something to think of the concept of New Years rolling around the corner when you’ve got a new baby in your arms? It’s not that refreshed goals for health and wellness no longer have a place, if anything they do even more so, but it’s as if they’ve been completely reimagined. While there is something exciting, or maybe daunting, about a new year coming, once you become a mother, the world shifts in orbit. They, your child, is the new year—new world—new life. This is what makes taking care of myself worth doing. This is what makes the smaller things—safety, nourishment, rest, more coveted. This is what changes it all.
I think of the various years I’ve spent counting down to a new year in a room with family or with friends, laughing and cheering and typically very full from too many appetizers. The optimist in me always awaits that change of the clock, wondering if the additional number will make life feel different.
When I consider the months I counted waiting for my daughter to at last join us earth-side, it felt like a similar, yet much more slow-motion count down. Despite the wait, including the last few hours in triage, waiting for our last minute c-section for our breech baby, the moment the change happened, neither my husband nor I needed to look at the clock, wondering if life felt different. We could feel it all around us, in the room, in ourselves and the strength it took to see ourselves to this moment, in the baby girl lying on my chest.
The similarities depart from there. While the anticipation of becoming a parent feels a lot like counting down for a new year, what happens after that baby arrives it all shifts into another dimension. Instead of waiting for the time to come, life greets you, asking for your answers. How will you keep your child alive? How will you keep yourselves alive in the midst of it? Many decisions are to be made, and because another life depends on it, the goals we once created for ourselves so rarely find themselves at the surface again. And while that is a hard truth, once you find yourself breathing again after having a newborn enter your life, remembering what motivated you or made you feel like yourself is worth holding onto.
I think about what reasons I used to have for making those New Years goals for myself, so unencumbered and upbeat. And while being a new mom can feel overwhelming and exhausting, it also connects me with a part of myself that grounds me in real meaning. So in stride, I think of them together, patched and sewn up like a quilt.
I used to make goals around learning a new craft, making things with my hands, figuring out a new creative medium. I used to gather cookbooks like they were gold, preparing my mind for the peaceful afternoons I’d spend baking in my kitchen. I used to strategize new ways I’d get my freelance work into other people’s hands. Now, I spend my mornings staring at my daughter’s face. Drinking it in with my coffee, both beautiful, revitalizing, quenching. I celebrate with my husband when we come closer to figuring out the perfect way to get her to sleep. I am gleeful thinking of what we’ll feed her for her first real meal. All of it, sewn together, is who I am now. All of it is what makes me come alive, what makes life worth trying at.
This year at New Years, I’ll enjoy cozying up underneath this quilt. I probably won’t make it to midnight nor will I be surrounded by anyone other than my husband or baby beyond 7pm, but I’ll being smiling anyways. When the clock change comes, I’ll let the excitement of the complete picture of my life, proceeding into another chapter, sit pleasantly over my lap. My only resolution will be to simply savor it.