I feel like we just brought that nearly-11-pound baby – all cheeks and squeezable sweetness – home from the hospital. It makes me giggle just thinking about how nervous we were as we drove home that day. I spent practically the entire drive hanging over the seat to see if we were strangling him with the car seat straps, and Keith drove the 100 miles from Jackson to Carrollton at about 40 miles per hour.
Today, Dean has a mouth full of teeth and the most adorable blonde curls and is on the verge of walking. Honestly, he is into just about everything and crawls so fast, Keith and I are constantly running after him. I’m told once he starts walking, running is close behind. Lord help us!
Dean is trying his best to communicate with us. Of course, the competition is on as to whether he says “Mama” or “Dada” first, and we have been coaching him relentlessly. So far, as we “mamamamama” and “dadadadada,” Dean’s response has been a head tilt and the baby equivalent of an eye roll. With our luck, he will pick up one of our most-used words like “cell phone” or “Walmart.”
Since Dean completed our little family, Keith and I spend most of our time just staring at him with our camera ready -- scared we might miss a milestone moment. He may be the most photographed baby (definitely rivaling Prince George), and if the camera comes out, he instinctually stops to pose. He is quite photogenic, and of course, we must share his adorableness to all our friends on social media – often, in case someone forgets what he looks like.
Now that Dean is maturing, he becomes quite annoyed with his gushing parents and our over-enthusiastic affection, but we just can’t resist one more squeeze and a quick peppering of sugars. Seriously, can’t a boy shred the pages of the new and likely unread edition of Southern Living in peace?
Dean has most definitely changed our lives for the better. I never realized how boring life was until I became a parent. Quiet dinners? Why would we want that? Keith and I enjoy free entertainment with our dinner every night. Most recently, Dean demonstrated his new mastery of “patty cake” while enjoying chocolate pudding. His splatter range is most impressive. I gave it a score of 9.8.
With one year of parenthood under my belt, I feel kind of seasoned, but I am certainly still a novice. The urge to keep Dean protected in a plastic bubble is almost at a manageable level, and that impulse to dip him in a vat of anti-bacterial solution daily has waned slightly.
I am much more comfortable in the role as “mommy,” as I have taken my lumps and learned from them. I don’t think parents ever quit learning the hard lessons, and how could they? You never know what you are going to get from day to day.
In my first year as a mommy, here are a few of lessons I’ve learned:
• All new mommies are crazy. I’m going to leave it at that. However, I really hope my friends weren’t just trying to make me feel better when they assured me of this.
• Contrary to popular belief, the first three months are the easiest months a parent will ever have. Newborns sleep up to 23 hours a day. If you can make a bottle and change a diaper, you should be okay.
• Babies need to sleep in their own bed. This was advice I was given by every parent I know – and not one parent I know followed their own advice. Keith and I took this as gospel. Dean sleeps in his own bed. On occasion, if he has had a bad dream and can’t be comforted, he has slept the rest of the night with us, but those are few-and-far-between.
If Dean slept with us every night, I would be living in a realm of exhaustion. When he does get in our bed, he is an absolute bed hog and prefers to sleep sideways, and I end up partially sleeping on the nightstand.
• Not only should you pack a change of clothes for the baby, mommy should also bring an extra outfit. A couple of weeks ago at a church dinner, Dean took a handful of potato casserole and ground it into my sleeve. It’s a fact of life: If he eats it, I wear it.
• My house will never be clean again, and surprisingly, I could really not care less.
• There is nothing I wouldn’t do to make Dean happy. Whatever he wants, whatever he wants to do – there is no limit to this rule. I’ve even turned over one of my most-prized possessions – my Kindle e-reader.
He loves the Kindle. He just loves to hold it, but he would rather bang it on the floor and push the buttons. I have learned to power the device down completely before turning it over to Dean. I learned this lesson the hard way. Because the device is connected to my Amazon account, with one click, any item the online store sells can be purchased. So far, Dean has managed to download an online poker app and purchase an e-book about blood-sucking vampires. Why can’t he accidentally order mommy some new shoes or a cute handbag?
• A national holiday needs to be set aside for single parents. I have so much admiration for those bringing up children by themselves.
Even working together with my husband, I can barely get out of the house each morning with Dean and all of his gear. On the rare occasion when Keith travels for his job and I must pull morning duty alone, Dean is lucky to get on every piece of his clothing. Lord knows, he doesn’t look all that put together.
Single parents are superheroes, plain and simple.
• There is such a thing as “love at first sight.” I experienced it the first time I looked into Dean’s blue eyes.