A year into this parenting thing I’m realizing just how much has changed for both of us.
When my grandmother was still alive, my dad made sure to wish her a happy “birth” day every year on his birthday. I always thought he was just trying to be funny. He loves a good play on words and would say it with a big grin on his face. My grandma would laugh and smile each time, as if she had never heard the joke before.
Now that we are 2 weeks away from my own firstborn’s one year mark, I finally understand the impact of this gesture. My grandma wouldn’t just smile because she thought it was funny. She smiled because she felt acknowledged. Celebrated. It was her special day, too.
While our children’s birthdays are technically a day marking the number of years they’ve been on this planet, if they’re our eldest, it also marks how long we’ve been a parent.
As the well-known Osho quote begins, “The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.” While my son may be the one who’s technically turning one, as a mother, I feel as though I’m turning one, too.
A lot has happened since we checked into the hospital that cold December morning and our family of two became three.
I mean, besides a global pandemic, a lot has happened internally with me.
I’m far from the same person I was before having a baby. Even from who I was while pregnant. And I don’t just feel different. It’s not as though I changed my hair color or picked up a hobby. I feel new. Nascent. Reborn.
I think it bears mentioning that before my own baby, I didn’t have much experience with children. To be fully honest, for most of my adult life, I didn’t even think I wanted to have kids, much preferring the predictability and (false) sense of control that I got from focusing on my career.
My nieces lived quite far away, and though my friends all had children, I managed to stay at an arm’s length if I visited, usually favoring the company of their dogs.
When we finally got pregnant, I panicked about how little experience I had. I felt that I had a lot to learn, so I devoured all the books I could get my hands on and peppered every veteran parent I knew with questions.
I finally lived in the same city as a niece and brand-new nephew and used them like a crash course in child care, though I still managed to avoid changing a diaper before my own baby’s.
But no matter how well I studied, it wasn’t by way of books or advice that I would become a mother. I became one the minute my son came into my life, and I’m continuing to become a mother every day.
See, that’s the beauty of parenthood. It’s not a fixed point — it’s a process. An evolution. Something we develop into alongside our children. In many ways, my son and I are growing up together.
It’s remarkable how much our relationship has grown from that very first day to the first week, to the first month, and especially now, to this first year.
I watched him go from an adorable but helpless little smoosh to a walking, talking little person. Meanwhile, I watched myself go from a frazzled, clueless first-time mom to a much more confident, though still often clueless, first-time mom.
In the beginning, I would sanitize anything that entered our house and panic about every single sniffle and bruise.
I spent hours on Google looking up any new sound or movement he was practicing and called our pediatrician about the tiniest changes in behavior.
I would obsess about his eating and study his sleep patterns like a math professor trying to figure out the solution to an impossible equation or an overworked detective trying to crack a cold case.
I’d doubt my instincts over and over, looking at the clock instead of my baby or asking for others’ advice instead of getting quiet and asking myself. I’d seek validation from my husband about my decisions around what our baby needed rather than standing in my intuition.
Now at 1 year, I’m growing more and more confident every day, just as my son is growing more confident with each step. And I think the area I’m maturing in the most (and I say this in present terms, as it’s still very much a work in progress) is my ability to trust myself.
I’ll be fully honest; I still Google funny things that he does. And whenever his sleep changes, I find myself back at the blackboard trying to rework the equation to figure it out.
But I no longer feel that all the answers will come from outside sources. Advice is always helpful, and I need as much guidance as I can get. However, whereas those first weeks and months I assumed others would know the answers, I now look at my son. And I listen to my heart.
Just as I honor his learning process and discovery, I no longer expect myself to know it all.
Just as I never judge him when he falls, I no longer judge myself for making mistakes. Well, not as much, at least.
Just as I celebrate all of his wins, no matter how tiny, I try to celebrate mine, as well.
It wasn’t just his birth that day — it was also my own. And every year that I’m blessed to watch him get older, I’ll not only look back at how far he has come but also how far I’ve come, too. How far we have come together.
And I’ll always make sure to wish myself a “Happy ‘Birth’-day,” too.
Sarah Ezrin is a mama, writer, and yoga teacher. Based in San Francisco, where she lives with her husband, son, and their dog, Sarah is changing the world, teaching self-love to one person at a time. For more information on Sarah please visit her website, www.sarahezrinyoga.com.