I expected this, of course — hoped for it, even — but it’s hard to believe that one year ago, September 1st, Kaia was born. Pink, crying, delicate — a precious gift of a girl who I couldn’t imagine as the feisty, silly, energetic light of our lives she is today. Last year, I could never have fathomed how much life would change, how much Alex and I would change, or how many highs and lows were in our future. But here we are as changed people with changed lives with so many highs and lows behind us and it means, perhaps more than anything else, that we survived. We all did.
This year was full of challenges that rendered me sinking, drowning. There were days I was sure I couldn’t handle another second of screaming or another night where I’d lie awake, holding a child until 6 in the morning when it was finally my time to get in my one blessed hour of sleep. Tears were shed — lots of them. There was frustration, and fear, and sadness. There were arguments hissed at 3 a.m., moments where it took every single ounce of will I had within me to not yell at my husband, moments where I just knew for certain that I had ruined an innocent child’s life just by simply deciding to become a mother. Some days (for example, the ones where I didn’t work for three straight hours to get my overtired infant to sleep) I managed to get my head slightly above the deep water I was in, but just as I thought I might be able to grab a hold on to the life ring that was always just out of my reach, there was loneliness, and isolation, and pain, and so much damn responsibility on my shoulders alone to pull me right back under.
So, I did what any human does when shit is going down, when it’s live or die: I fought. I churned up so much water around me that I likely just made everything worse. It never took very long after all of that fighting to become utterly exhausted and simply give up and give in to whatever was going to happen. It was in those moments of stillness, of not fighting, of not trying that I was instantly buoyed upward. Kaia would laugh, she would smile, she would screech, she would look at me with her big blue eyes and stare right into my soul, and suddenly I was breathing again. Finally, after I spent enough time catching my breath and recovering from my near-drowning experiences, I finally figured out that in order to make any progress in motherhood, I needed to swim. So, I started swimming like hell, and I haven’t stopped since. Swimming often means “acting as if,” it means having no expectations, it means not taking things seriously, it means laughing at life’s absurdity. It means making decisions even when I don’t know what I’m doing. It means being a leader in the moments where I’d feel more comfortable being a follower. It means trying my best, failing, and then trying again.
Nobody said it was easy. Nobody had the heart to say it would be this hard.
Motherhood is hard work, there is no denying that. But simply being a mother — a caretaker, a protector, a loving supporter to Kaia? That’s effortless. She just makes it so easy. Kaia is feisty, and determined, and never lets any obstacle stand in the way of accomplishing her goals. She is social, and funny, and lights up every room she enters. There is not a single other person like her that I have ever known, and at just one year old she is the most inspiring, influential, magnificent human I have ever had the honor to meet.
No one ever told me that parental love was the sweetest one out there. This is a love that is quiet, powerful, and invincible. It asks no questions, defines no boundaries, and rests easy just as it is. For this, I would so absolutely anything. For this — for Kaia — I’ll never stop swimming.
We made it a year. It’s a drop in the bucket that feels so monumental.
I don’t doubt our ability to tread the waters of new toddlerhood, body surf the turbulent seas, to float on glassy waters, and swim to whatever shore appears to us next.