In so many ways, 2016 felt like the longest year ever.
Full disclosure, I operated on about 4 hours of sleep, every night, until 86% of the way through June. So there is a large portion of 2016 that, to be completely honest, I just don't remember. Until March, I was still lost in a haze of pumping, bottle washing, and trying to balance going back to work with raising a tiny human.
These things made 2016 feel long.
But in other ways, 2016 felt really short too. Danny and I went on four (or was it five?) vacations, including to the Oregon Coast, where Forrest saw the ocean and rather reluctantly put his toes in the sand. We mostly kept ourselves at home, having barbecues, going to Target, or walking around the park. Forrest turned a year old (!!!!).
In context, one year ago, Forrest was still considered a newborn. This week, he said "thank you" distinctly when my mom handed him something. He says real words. He expresses himself. He falls asleep in his high chair when he's too tired. He walks and talks and signs. One year. That's all it took and it's like he's a little boy all of a sudden.
What was 2016 like for me, personally?
It was really tiring. Rewarding, but tiring.
To be perfectly honest, I don't do so great at the "cherish every day" thing. Mostly because I believe that's ultimately gaslighting: you can't make me cherish something I don't want to cherish. I didn't want to cherish the four hours a day I spent pumping, but I did it anyway, begrudgingly, because in my heart, I wanted to and I made that choice for myself. (And the moment I decided to stop, it was the most freeing feeling in the world.)
Part of me is embarrassed to say, "Well, I did a lot of things in 2016 that I didn't want to do, that I totally resented, but I did them because sometimes you have to do things for other people and put yourself last." Isn't that every mom's life, though?
Sometimes, I don't want to spend the evening cleaning the living room and kitchen; I don't want to spend my only free time attaching our furniture to the walls (so long quick and easy furniture shifts!); I don't want to put all the toys away again and again and again. But I do them because I have to. It's hard to cherish those moments, when I'm hunched over wiping peanut butter off the floor under the kitchen table for the 100th time or when I'm wrangling a baby into a bathtub. It's easier to the cherish the moments when Forrest yells "DOGGIE" at a group of dogs in the park or when he falls asleep as I carry him inside or when he waves and says "hi there!" to someone at the grocery store.
Eventually, I won't have to do these things: Forrest will be older and understand more of what I'm saying so he can help (perhaps this is wishful thinking), but for now, for 2016, it's how things were. Washing dishes, cleaning the same messes in the same rooms, constantly doing laundry and putting it away, vacuuming up dog hair. It's not all pretty Instagram feeds and idyllic family photo shoots.
But 2016 was also the year I made some really important strides at work, the year I launched my newsletter (finally!), the year I learned what it is to be both a person and a mom and how I can effectively balance those things.
It wasn't the best year. But it was one that I loved because I got to see my son (I made him with my body, is still something I think to myself once a day) grow into less of a baby and more of a child. It was also great because I got to see myself grow as a person.