After hearing her only say Daddy for months I never thought the day would come, but with one word, my daughter and my entire world of communication has changed. As New Year's Eve approached she finally mastered saying Mommy. So clear and crisp, my name now dances on her little tongue, its sound solidifying the invisible bond between us.
With her new found power, she got me to sit with her to watch Babe the movie. After I dozed off a few times I realized we had been sitting for almost an hour. She had been sitting for an hour. On my lap. Still and silent for a long period of time without the aid of straps or buckles.
Who was this child? Still a baby in so many ways here were new pieces of her personality coming together as her first calendar year on Earth came to a close. Little glimpses of the child she is growing into peeking through. Evidence she is learning everyday. I was stifled with surprise as the things I'd been wanting to come for months finally arrived.
The past year I found myself questioning whether or not she would achieve certain milestones. If things like her sleeping and eating patterns would change and of course they all did with time, and with no influence of mine. I can't help it. Like my daughter, I'm very impatient when it comes to pretty much anything. I'm the speeding hare knowing full well the tortoise is going to beat me at every race. I can't help it. Its who I've always been. But I'm finding it's clearly not who I can be now.
All of the things I want for 2012 have to do with my need to control things and as a parent, that ability has been stolen along with sleep past 7:30am. I grew up thinking my parents were adults and thus free to make unlimited choices. Conversations with my friends this week confirmed how delusional I was. Everyone seems to be making strategic moves on life's giant chess board. Some of us are holding off on having more kids because two in daycare will be too expensive. Some are making home renovations for more space. Others are looking for new jobs or deciding to stay at current ones because of benefits. All of us are desperate for more time with our children, with our spouses, and in turn find ourselves just waiting for change.
However, change is result of action isn't it? All New Year's resolutions are action based. Heading back to the gym, making more time for ourselves, going to Home Depot to finally fix that creeky step. The challenge as parents is that what we want to attain and do, aren't a result of action but lack thereof. I can't buy a house right now. I can't lose 20lbs by the end of the week. I can't pay off all of my debt tomorrow. So what can my resolution be? Being patient? Continuing to be slow and steady? How can being patient and doing less be proactive and yield results?
In the spirit of being like everyone else and developing a resolution, I think 2012 will be the year of my cultural assimilation. The culture being that of a parent. 2011 was a test and I survived, but as the terrible two's quickly approach I'm going to have to bring my A game. I'm going to have to stop being "more" of everything and instead focus on being "less." Less negative when things don't go my way, less of a control freak and eager to turn a tantrum into a teaching moment, less eager to create my life and instead just watch it unfold. I will be less anxious about the seeds I planted in 2011 and have more faith that they will soon start to bloom on their own.
This time next year I hope to look back at these words and consider how crazy I sounded. How naive I was as a first time parent and how overcoming parenting obstacles have made me wiser. My daughter will be so different by then and so will my family.
Perhaps 2012 will bring me the gifts of being comfortable with the unknown, the ability to be patient, and in turn not drive everyone around me insane. By December I may be pleasantly surprised. I may find myself the all-knowing tortoise proudly rounding the frazzled hare and everything falling into place.