Things I Wish I Could Go Back and Tell Myself During My First Year As a Mama
It’s finally here. The one year marker as a mother. My son is officially turning 1 year old today.
I have looked forward to this day for months! I’ve been so careful not to wish away the earlier months, leaning in to every moment, but still looking forward to what’s to come. This one year marker is a big moment for any parent though. It’s sort of the moment between having a “little baby” and wondering if you still call them a baby or at what point are they a toddler? Not a newborn, not an infant, but I thought 2 year olds were toddlers? These are real questions that were asked in my kitchen just last night. Do we still have a baby once he’s 1?
And the answer is – Maverick Elmer McVety will always be my baby.
My first baby. He’s the one who taught me how to be a mother. He taught me a lot about patience and grace. He also helped me learn perseverance and going just a little longer before giving up. Every part of this beautiful baby boy’s life has been an absolute adventure. From those early labor pains, to his speedy delivery, to the moment when the world seemed to stop for 4 days in the Markham Stouffville NICU, life has always been an adventure.
I was up last night thinking about how I’d feel today, and what I might like to do to sort of celebrate or really mark this day for our family and myself as a *still new* first time mother. I started looking up cute reels that parents have done, and I started thinking of creative traditions we could begin. But just a few minutes into this brainstorming session, I started thinking of all the things I would love to be able go back and to tell “me” during this first year.
During those nights when it seemed like I’d never figure out how to transfer him from my arms to the bassinet, I would like to say: you did it. Not only did you find the perfect “mama’s touch” for a successful transfer, you also learned how to maneuver the unexpected night time wakes and get him back to sleep within seconds.
The time when I sat in the middle of the nursery bawling my eyes out over what seemed like a ruined breast pump, I would say: you needed that cry, mama. Good job for letting it out and leaning on your partner. You were completely irrational, but that’s okay. It made sense in your head, and I can still remember exactly how you made sense of it all. It was never about the breast pump. It was about the intense need to be exactly what your baby needed. Guess what, you figured out that you are already that, even without a breast pump.
To the “me” who didn’t know if I should keep breastfeeding when he wasn’t gaining any weight, I would say: I’m so proud of you for trying truly every possible method of feeding your baby. It’s 9 months later, and you are still doing a mixed methods approach. Also. Your baby is thriving. He has tripled in weight since he was born. You did it, mama. You figured it out.
When I cried a few days after coming home because I thought he had grown a little, I would say: and he kept growing and growing, and you didn’t miss a thing. You tuned in to every moment, and you watched him grow before your very eyes. While it seemed sad at times to let go of a bitty baby with no sense of independence, you’ve gained a bigger baby who can communicate with you and even say things like Mama and Dads. It only gets better and better.
All the times I stressed over having enough in the diaper bag, I would say: throw a box of diapers, wipes, and a change in the car that stay there permanently. Anything else you might “need” you can always get at the corner store. You’ve never not had enough. Well, there was that one time he had a blowout, and you forgot to pack a change. But!!! Aunty rushed to the store, and it all worked out.
When I felt insecure about breastfeeding in public, I would say: This season is actually quite short. Also, you figured it out. No one ever said anything rude. There were so many breastfeeding friendly establishments. Also, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, I promise, they aren’t worried about how you are feeding your baby. Just keep going, Mama.
To the “me” who was terrified to manage a car seat, stroller, shopping cart in a crowded area, I would say: You are still terrified, but you are now more informed and far more aware of your surroundings. Keep practicing safety, and don’t be afraid to use your voice. You’ve already spoken up a few times. Trust your Mama instincts, they are a gift from the Holy Spirit. And you would rather be wrong about a safe person than quiet about a dangerous person.
During my last semester of classwork right before giving birth when I was worried I wouldn’t finish, I would say: You didn’t give up now, and you won’t in the future. A year from now, you’ll be almost 30 pages into your dissertation. This is all worth it. Take the needed break, and start again when you can manage it.
This last year has been the first year of a new life, a new role, a new family. So many firsts and new beginnings. It has been the joy of my life to watch Maverick grow and to see his personality develop. Something unexpected from this last year for me is the way my faith has grown almost as rapidly as my baby. Whenever I share details of my birth story, I always, always share about how it was the most spiritually intense moment of my life. Never before had I cried out to God and been so sustained by His mercy like when I was giving birth. I had no idea that childbirth was so intimately spiritual, but there’s no denying that when a baby is born so is a mother. The transformation that takes place for a woman during childbirth is quite unexplainable. I’ve tried to find the words for 12 months now, and it’s so intense that I still struggle to make it make sense. Life as I knew it before Maverick no longer existed when he entered the world, and what a blessing that is because a world with Maverick is better than anything I could imagine.
While I’ve taken the time to briefly reflect on what this last year as a mother has been like, today, we are taking the time to fully focus on celebrating Maverick! We are taking a quick trip to visit our family in North Carolina, and we are spending a lot of time reflecting on the goodness of God in his life throughout this last year.
I’ll be writing a letter today, but not one to my younger self. Instead, I’ll write a letter to our future Maverick. That’s one that we will keep private just for him though 🤍
Would love to know of any yearly traditions you’ve done with your kids on their birthdays! Please share with us in the comments.
We decided to start the day with a cupcake and a prayer of blessings over Maverick’s life for the next year!
⁃ the Mama