Monday, December 31, 2012

2012- A Mom in Review

I've always been a reminiscer, (you who reminisces) so the sappy reviews brought on by the New Year are right up my alley. Want to look back on all the memories of the year? Yeah I do. Want to make a neat little countdown list of it all? Um, YES! Nostalgia + bullet points- this kind of methodical categorization plus unapologetic sappiness is like a salty-caramel snack for my soul.

So naturally with the new year approaching, I spent a little time trolling through our pictures and skimming the Bowdenisms archives, and it's astounding to me how many memories a year can hold. I don't want to get all "rent-head" on you, but 525,600 minutes? That's a whole lot of time..that still seems to pass in the blink of an eye. 2012 was full of a lot of things, (a LOT of things) but for me, it could be summed up as The Year of the Mom. More specifically, the year I spent learning, and trying, and failing, and loving, all that is Motherhood (capital M necessary). So before we close the book on this year, and ring in the new one, I wanted to revisit some of our best times from each month, and what they mean through the eyes of a Mama.

January-My prom bday party.

I think last January, subconsciously I had something to prove...even just to myself. Sure, I have a baby now, but I am still capable of throwing a wild, over-the-top soirée and dancing til dawn. (Alright, not quite dawn...but late, ok?! "I've still got it!!", She insists to her imaginary critics.) A TON of work went into making this party happen, and like always, my charming-but-crazy notions wouldn't be possible without my family (Dustin and my parents are the wind beneath my party planning wings). I don't feel the urge to throw another blow-out this year, but I'm so grateful for the fun we had at that party. And even more grateful that 30 is still one more year away.

February- Piper's "1 year" bday- alternate title: "Looks Like We Made It".

I know I skew towards the dramatic sometimes (yes...almost always counts as "sometimes") but motherhood, parenting, and even just surviving, didn't come easy for me the first few months of Piper's life. I love that girl, but dang she rocked us pretty good. I cried big, dramatic, grateful tears when we made to the three month milestone, thinking about all the friends ad family that were there foe us throughout her first year in existence. And still when I look back on this year I can't remember many days where my heart felt more full.

March- My return to work.

When my twelve weeks maternity leave expired in January, I knew, I just knew, I couldn't go back. I never thought I'd be the mom that loved staying home (truth be told, I'm still not that mom) but for whatever reason, in my heart I just wasn't ready to leave my girl. I felt our time together wasn't finished, and the thought of going back to work sent me into a very real panic. Thankfully I did have the option of extending my time off, and after another four week at home, it felt right (though still scary) to return to work. I worried plenty about how I would re-assimilate. I feared I was slow, soft, fragile...and in ways- I was. There were days I cried on the way home because I had no clue if I could do "everything". And there were times when I had to mentally repeat "I think I can, I think I can" to get through workday pumping sessions, feeling guilty about the work piling up around me and onto others. So there were many, many moments that I was positive I was mucking everything up. Times I was sure the entire working-mom system is flawed and cannot possibly be executed by real humans. But through it, I've also felt an enormous sense of purpose and pride. In the good and the bad, I know that every single day I'm doing what I was uniquely created for: designing, negotiating, problem solving, and snuggling. Some days are more of one thing, and less of another...but I'm doing them...every day I'm doing them.

April- Piper sat up.

I have no idea why some moments as a mom just get me but this one did. We were playing on the floor in the kitchen, and all of a sudden, Piper just sat on her own. No elaborate fan fare, no dramatic building to a milestone. Just one minute she couldn't sit without help....and the next...she could. I sat next to her and watched her proud little face, on her big giant head, atop her chubby little body, and I cried. Proud, happy, sappy mama tears.

May- First Mother's Day

One more holiday with presents for me? Ain't nothin' wrong with that!
(But for real, you can't have a motherhood-milestone post and not mention Mother's Day. Thanks for the card, Pips!)

June- Family Vacation in South Carolina

This was a long, rowdy, tiring, loud week of togetherness. Basically a concentrated version of our long, rowdy, tiring, loud life...but set in a warmer climate. And I loved pretty much every second of it. My little family spent a week on the beach with my big family- including brothers and sisters (turned aunts and uncles) nieces and nephews (turned cousins) and parents (now grandparents) and we made memories to last a lifetime. Or at least to last us until we're crazy enough to do it again. Which I'm hoping is very very soon.


In July we went to visit Dustin's parents in Florida, which was a fun week of swimming, golf carting, ladies lunching, line dancing, and domino playing. We had a blast showing Piper off to the Villagers, and introducing her to all the wonderful things Florida (and a retirement community) have to offer. But one of my favorite days was getting up early with her while Dustin went on a golf outing. It was early enough that it wasn't blazing hot (or suffocatingly humid) so we went on a walk around the neighborhood in our borrowed stroller. It wasn't anything special, we just toured the homes, and admired the decorative driveway murals. But she kicked her legs (and her little naked toes) happily as I jabbered on about anything I could think of, and I realized I was actually having a good time too. Sure there's something nice about a captive audience, but little snippets like this get me excited for the day she understands what I'm yammering about, and chimes in with her own thoughts. She's always my baby, but in tiny, seemingly insignificant moments, I realize she's also my family.

August- Our seventh anniversary
*technically September 4th, but the long weekend started in August, so we count it.

Each year for our anniversary we try to take a big trip to celebrate another year together. But with a baby in the mix this time around, it just wasn't seeming possible. So we compromised and planned a wonderful weekend in Columbus, while Piper enjoyed some time with her grandparents. It was a definite change of pace after spending previous years in sunning in Jamaica, or roaming around the wild west, but just spending time together without the nugget was enough for us. We talked and laughed, and ate and drank to our hearts content...And then happily took a break from "us time" to join the Pipster and our families at the local church festival. It turns out we're still very much in love with each other...but still aren't quite complete without at least a little dose of our girl if we can get it.

September- Adventures in Babysitting

As I was wrapping up my workday, I got a frantic call from Dustin. "I need you. She's here. I need you!" We had offered to watch a friend's baby that evening while they went out for their anniversary, and they had arrived a bit earlier than I expected. I rushed home, to find Dustin looking a little panicked- a baby in each arm, toys and food everywhere. He had done a great job getting dinner ready for each of them, but the babies were getting cranky, jealous of each other, and had started to egg each other on into competing crying fits. With an extra set of hands, we were able to feed both girls (separating them when necessary) and clean up a tiny bit before heading up to bathtime. This entire night had been my bright idea, we were getting into a groove with Piper, I figured how hard could one more be? You're already doing all the's just a little bit more to include another little one, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Our little charge is a very sweet girl, so she wasn't a problem in the slightest, but it turns out having two is pretty much double the work. Or maybe triple. Plus, this little girl was only a month younger than Piper, but had very different preferences. We weren't used to pacifiers, blankie cuddling, or long hair to brush, so we learned a little on the fly. It was a short and relatively uneventful night, but it was still an eye-opener to the world of two kiddos (on a weeknight after work no less). I saw that night that another baby would be doable, but if we were expecting a Piper clone that would seamlessly slide into our family, then we'd be mistaken. Another kid would be a whole new personality with their own patterns, likes and dislikes, so it wouldn't necessarily
be as simple as piling one on top of our family of three. Oh, and it was possible to be more tired after all.

October- The Influence Conference

Is it strange to choose an event that I attended sans-Piper for one of my mama-moments? This conference was an adventure for me. Leaving my girl (and my man) for a women's weekend, to spend some time learning about, and investing in something just for me. I met some lovely girls, picked up some useful tips, and gained some valuable perspective. So much of my life revolves around our precious little lady, but there is still so much of my life that is still mine, and I'm intensely grateful for the chance to celebrate and focus on those parts too.

November- Piper's 1st bday (for real this time)

Piper's three month/one year celebration was such a huge deal in my heart, that when it came time for her actual one year birthday, I was surprised by how calm I was about it all. I expected to be a sentimental mess about mah bay-bee growing up, but that never really happened. We planned a beautiful party (that I kept as simple as I know how) and had fun celebrating with our friends and family. It was a hectic day, but the milestone in general passed without too much emotional fanfare. In Piper's early days, everything was big deal to me. I celebrated getting us both out the door in the morning. I teared up at the thought of missing our weekly yoga class together. I was new, overwhelmed and raw. But a year later, my open wounds of motherhood- the vulnerable parts of my spirit that had been exposed to the world through having a child- had healed over a bit. It wasn't that a year of mom-ing had made me calloused or scarred...I just had my skin back. And it felt good to live in it.

December- Christmas with family

Christmas (the day, the season, the concept) is a bit of a whirlwind every time, and this year was no exception. We traveled across the state (twice) to see families on both sides of our home, and spent a week and a half dessert eating, gift unwrapping, photo taking, face timing, and nap fighting with our nearest and dearest. Traveling with a baby makes for a tiring week, but I love how we are starting to form traditions with our girl. We skipped buying her presents (shhh....she never really noticed, as she was plenty spoiled by our extended family) and focused on doing things together instead. She'll never remember this year, so we still have lots of flexibility as to what future holidays will look like. Maybe we'll cut down our own tree next time...Maybe we'll "adopt" a family to buy gifts for...Maybe we'll host Christmas one year? I love how open our lives still are, and how we are crafting what each milestone, tradition and holiday looks like through the eyes of a Bowden. (p.s. Keeping it real with this photo. She does not always love our family-togetherness outings. Or at least isn't always fond of the obligatory photo-op.)

So there are twelve of my 525,600 mama moments...How do we measure this year? There are plenty of silly (and smelly) units to mark it by...but we measure in love. Always love.