All of this was leading up to a party that my little girl would most likely forget within a few hours after it ended. I reflected on the last year, my first year as a parent, and thought about how much my life had changed. Just in the physical sense, there was so much that was different. I now counted waking up at 9 AM as sleeping in. And thanks to a combination of bedrest, genetics, and eating lots of take out, I had gained 90 pounds during my pregnancy. Since giving birth to my daughter, I have only lost 30 of those pounds. Recently, after taking a year to adjust to being a parent, I’ve been able to add exercise into my daily routine. Now as soon as I get the eating sensibly part down, I may one day lose the rest of the “baby” weight.
As a parent I am forever changed intrinsically, too. Even as a married person, before a baby I always thought of myself, first. My schedule now revolves around naptime, playgroup, and my daughter’s whims. Gone are the days of last minute day trips to Jungle Jims or all day hiking adventures at Clifton Gorge followed by dinner and drinks somewhere in Yellow Springs. My husband and I do make time for each other it’s just a lot more rare these days than it used to be (as a result we tend to really enjoy the precious time we get to spend with just one another).
Despite how a baby has completely turned our lives upside down, I could never imagine a second without her. When I’m exhausted and tripping over toys at 6 AM to get up with her, my mood instantly changes when I reach down to pick her up from her crib and she smiles and coos at me. Right around the time she turned one she also began saying “Mama” and I know she’s referring to me.
The birthday party itself was sort of anticlimactic. We got some cute pictures, and despite my misgivings about its design, the cake was fantastic. Probably what everyone will remember most is sort of disturbing. I had trouble lighting the candle on her cake so it took several tries with a cigarette lighter before we actually got it lit. And then as soon as I put the hot lighter down, to my horror my daughter picked it up and proceeded to burn her forearm with it. So now my sweet little girl has a lighter burn scar on her left forearm. At least we will always remember the party, and I will never forget this first year.
Megan Kerns is the stay at home mother of 1-year-old Penelope Mae. She is originally from Kansas City, Mo., but currently lives in Dayton, Ohio, with her husband and their two cats.