The Tao of Kaspar: 3 Big Life Lessons from My Baby’s First Year
February 14, 2011
© Taylor Newman
Kaspar turned one this past Friday! We had a big party, and a fantastic time. Turning one is a big deal. Maybe each of our kids’ birthdays is a big deal, though, reminding us of the day when-- after much anticipation-- they arrived safely in our arms, changing our lives forever. I was choked up for days leading up to Kaspar’s birthday. On Thursday night, after I’d put him to bed and settled down to supposedly get some work done, I just plain couldn’t take it anymore… I spent the time I’d reserved for work curating a selection of photos from the past year for a shamelessly self-indulgent Facebook album (what else is Facebook for, after all?). I’ve aired some of the year’s highlights, of course, right here on this blog along the way: remember this? Woah, right?! Then this, the very next day!
Of course we think everything about Kaspar is incredible, but looking through our photos, I was awestruck not only by how much he's grown and changed in this year— which on one hand feels like the blink of an eye, and on the other feels like a lifetime — but also by the countless other people who appear in our photos. Aaron and I feature prominently, of course, but we also have image after image of our friends and family holding Kaspar, smiling at him, loving him. From Brooklyn to Texas and everywhere in-between (and around the world—what’s up Amoreena?), Kaspar has people—good people-- who know and love him, and who’ve made a point to be a part of his life. Which brings me to the first wisdom-nugget from year one:
Babies bring out the best in people (and, as it turns out, the best in people is pretty darn good). Now, I believe that our friends and family are good people with or without a baby in the room, but what I mean by ‘the best’ is that little light that switches on in people’s eyes when they’re talking to a new and little person who can’t yet talk back. I know this is nature’s way of keeping the species going and all, but there’s something magical about the way everyone—friends and strangers alike—smiles before a baby, lets go of pretense, defense, or self-consciousness of whatever variety, and starts up a nonsense conversation. The love that our friends and family have showered onto our little man is astounding. I feel so lucky that our kiddo has such a rockin’ “village” raising him up. The sweet nothings, passing blessings and random fits of babble-talk that people we don’t know have directed towards him, too, have been an unexpected perk that has restored, or rather confirmed, my belief in humanity.
Going through Kaspar’s photos, too, I was briefly transported back to the moment each image was shot. It was fascinating to revisit, say, our first hours with him, in the hospital— I was in love, and vaguely terrified— with the perspective that I now have at the one-year mark (still head-over-heels, no longer terrified).
I remember thinking, after giving birth, ‘Wow, I’m a total badass!’; I gave birth to a baby! That seriously HURT! I thought midway through that perhaps I wasn’t up to the task, but I did it—that baby got born! In this same way, we’ve taken numerous big steps into the unknown this year, individually and as a family, and I’m continually amazed by what we’re capable of doing… and by what we’re willing to try. When did we become so brave? From a major relocation, to making professional strides, to finding our way around all things first-year parenting (no childcare? No breast milk? No wheat/soy/dairy/eggs/nuts? No problem!), we’re doing it. I’ve admittedly always been an overachiever, but this evolving willingness to embrace change and challenge—without undo fear of failure-- has everything to do with parenting. There is no real failure in parenting; you get the big stuff right (the stuff that keeps the kid alive), and the rest is trial and error until you land upon what works best (no quitters in parenting, either). And who better to model this ingenious human characteristic than our babies themselves? Watching Kaspar willingly, even happily, fall down as many times as it takes to eventually stand up is a great lesson. “What if I can’t stand up?” doesn’t seem to be an issue for him. He just goes for it until he gets it. So, nugget number two: We are capable of everything we believe ourselves to be. Whatever it is-- go for it. Falling down is inconsequential.
What struck me most about Kaspar’s first year in photos, however, was his ever-present smile. I notice this every day-- I wake up to Kaspar’s smiling face, one inch from my own-- but seeing a year’s worth of baby grins in just over an hour imparted an unexpected lesson that I’m taking to heart. Like most moms, I’ve worried about all kinds of potential hazards to my child. He’s in the sandbox, and I’m saying “Ooooo sand!” but looking out for glass. I’ve worried endlessly about his eczema, but he, for the most part, has smiled and laughed right on through it. This was blatantly obvious in his photos, some of which show eczema on his face, and some of which don’t… but the smile—that’s a constant. This kid is having a great time. I’m no less determined to take the eczema down (and it is sooooo much better now than it was), but I know Kaspar’s right-on with this third nugget: Life is fun! Don’t worry. (Eat cake).
So, there you have it. The Tao of Kaspar. If you’re in to taping things up on your bathroom mirror, go ahead and slap these nuggets up there, and/or share your own below—what life lessons have your kids taught you as they grow? Did rounding the corner on the first year make you realize anything about yourself that helped you, as a parent and a person, going forward? What most amazes you about your children each day?
Thanks for sharing in this past year with us-- for all of your tips, ideas and stories. I’m so looking forward to sharing year two with you, too.