As we head into another new year, it remains true that everything old is new again. We greet each new year with the same traditions with which we have always greeted new years in the past – a giant ball will drop in New York, the Rose Parade will wind down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, and the local news will bring us a story about the first baby born in the new year. Invariably, the reporter introduces us to a smiling, exhausted, and relieved mother holding a newborn baby.
As we replace our calendars, make our resolutions, and participate in the rituals of renewal – it’s refreshing to be reminded of the continual newness of life. Baby New Year is a metaphorical and literal new lease on life. It’s nice to think that we can start again – erase the slate and rewrite the script of our lives. My children are six and ten now, but every year at this time I like to think back on their lives and reflect on how they have changed mine.
In the first year of my older son’s life, I was learning parenting as I went. It was truly an immersive, sink-or-swim feeling. I was a little overwhelmed by the fact that infants are at their most helpless when parents are at their least experienced. It was hard to reconcile all of the conflicting information on milestones and other measures of my baby’s progress. Eventually, I realized that I had to set aside the advice and trust myself. The lesson was a hard one to learn, but it made the experience of my second son’s birth a little easier. When my second son was born 2 months early, I knew to not even look at milestones. He wasn’t going to hit them on any sort of a “normal” schedule and that was ok. He did hit them eventually, and that was all that mattered.
Both of my sons will always be my babies – and I will always be learning about parenting. But even as the new year brings with it the illusion of a new beginning, I know that in the coming year my kids will turn 11 and 7. They will finish kindergarten and 5th grade. My older son will start middle school. They are not getting younger. They are not babies. As much as I enjoy reflecting on who my boys were when they were my new beginning – my own baby new year – it’s also nice to imagine who they will be in the years to come.