Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Leaving The Cocoon: Walker's First Year

This time last year I felt as if nothing could touch me. I was in this cocoon.  We were in the hospital room separated from the world. The sun was bright, the hot air balloons played over the mountains. All was right in my world. The entire week was like this. Our parents were here making it feel like our entire world was in one house. It seems like a blur as there was not much sleep. We woke up every two hours. I had to get to know him. I've never claimed to be Supermom, that's for sure! We just did what worked best for us as we went along and got to know each other as a family.

From day one Walker knew what he wanted and would get very angry if he didn't get it right then. He has a temper! He also learned to smile at six weeks and it became infectious. His whole face lights up when he smiles. He is very funny and watches people to learn things. It's as if he is absorbing and then picks it up. I think he's going to be very smart. People sometimes say he's sweet, but I have never really liked that word. Nick nor I are particularly sweet! We are very nice, kind hearted, good people... but, sweet?! Walker is nice and likes to share and gives people big smiles and love, but I'm not sure if he's sweet! He dresses really cool... which I'm sure one day he will throw his preppy clothes on the floor. He already smiles at Mickey to wear him on a t-shirt. At first it was almost stressful picking out his clothes and what blanket I would photograph him on the next day. I cannot say why I did that every day, but it was neat to me. I had fun and so did he. As he got older he played harder so there is no point for really cute clothes every day! Usually he's in a soft t-shirt and shorts! Shoes are only for pictures because he usually rips them off. I've always had a passion for pictures. They say you take pictures of things you love. I have a blast capturing his smile and funny antics. Some moms think I'm nuts to plaster him everywhere, but that's okay, I AM nuts.

This kid is all boy. I used to wonder what people meant when they said that. Well, he loves cars, dirt and is very rough! He turns the remote control into a car. He runs into everything and usually has red marks on his head somewhere from banging into something or scratching himself. Not good for the future because I see stitches and casts.

We do the best we can. I know there's sugar free, gluten free, dairy free moms that are probably doing everything right. The other day I decided not to put on his baby sunscreen because it's so thick and he gets so mad so I opted for the adult version because it wasn't as thick, but had the same SPF. I probably poisoned him. He gets bites of ice cream because he gets so excited. Nick and I figure we grew up this way and we turned out okay.... or sort of okay! I recall there being real Coke in my refrigerator... I don't like it now, but I never saw it as a big deal and I never drank it in excess. There was always ice cream in the freezer and I'm a gal that loves to workout so it never became a problem for me. Oh, we break all the rules. We bring him in bed with us at 6 AM so he will sleep another hour. I figure maybe by age 5 he will break that cycle! Or maybe never and he'll come in my bed when he's a teenager to cuddle? Yeah... right. This kid has flown to LA, Hawaii, Texas and driven all the way to New Mexico... I cannot even count his flights anymore... Most parents would run and hide thinking of taking a baby that young on flights. We broke the rules and we boy, did we have adventures. I try to read every little mom article and follow the "right" things to do, but really, not sure there are right things to do. My child will be raised in a loving home and he will love Jesus and be polite and gracious. This is the most important thing to me as a parent. He might not nap on time and he might eat sugar along the way, but he'll be a good kid.

That's another thing...sleep. Oh lordy, I haven't slept in a year... Nick and I are bad sleepers. We wake up a lot and we don't nap for longer than an hour. Yep, same as the kid. He's gotten better with two hour naps as he's "aged," but those first few months of 20 minute naps liked to kill me. Everyone throws their sleep advice at me, but none of it really works. He will cry in that crib for an hour losing his voice if you let him. He does cry himself to sleep and that works at times, but others he wants you to rock him. Yep, another mom fail... again, I'm sure he will live and hopefully not need to be rocked to bed at ten years old. Oh, many times he will just fall asleep in your arms or sometimes even fall asleep when placed in his crib, but he's not a super baby like most of my friends' children that slept through the night at an early age and chilled in their crib. And, even if he does sleep all night, I'm up every hour or so making sure he is breathing. Poor kid. He did wear an alert system until he just moved so much he fell off every night causing a slight panic as the alarm rang. I even check to see if Nick is breathing... not sure if many people just stop breathing when they sleep, but in my crazy mind, the world must...

They say after loss you know not to take anyone for granted. I might take that to an extreme because I go overboard not taking them for granted... trying to absorb every second, but also being so fearful of every little thing. It's hard to let people just live. We do let Walker swim, play, hang, be crazy... but, in the back of my mind I'm always wondering if he's the crazy news story you will see that a brain eating amoeba got him in the pool... I try to let him play and live as much as possible though. He bathes in germs at playgrounds and I've seen him eat food off my floor when he's dropped it... I guess he's building tolerance to germs? He has amazing grandparents that love him dearly and I sure wish we lived down the street so he could play with them on a weekly basis, but he does absorb their love... It's strange when I think of that loss of my own mom and sometimes think how much fun she would have with him. I talk about her to him so he will know her. I hope she is an angel in his life and watches him. One day if we do move back to Texas it will make my heart happy to know Walker will get to see the grandparents more often. I lived an hour from mine growing up and they were always around which was wonderful to me. I want my Dad to teach him woodworking and to love cars and how to do cool stuff in the yard. I remember gardening with Grandaddy and taking walks! Just small things you remember doing are so important. One very neat thing is he has a great grandmother, something Nick and I did not have. To me that is beyond special.

I don't know how you raise a child correctly in this crazy world. There have been so many national tragedies lately that I just shake my head in wonder as to how you explain hate to your children. Children are not born to hate. I pray Walker loves all people around him. I pray he understands people that believe differently than him. I have to learn that on a daily basis even! Today's world is so different than when we were children. I cannot say the violence is totally different... people say that, but even back to biblical times there was violence. I don't want Walker to segregate because of race, religion, gender... and, if you ask children, most don't know much about color or even class. I never knew as a young child that others were "poor" ... it didn't matter. Even as we got older I had friends that supposedly were "rich," yet I never thought of them as any more special than the person that was "poor." My parents taught me to love all people. As parents we want to create a bubble around children so they see no evil. They feel no pain. This is inevitable and you just cringe thinking of the day. I don't know how to raise anyone in this crazy world. All I know is Nick and I were raised in our own version of a crazy world, our parents, their parents, were all raised in some version of a crazy world filled with violence and things no one understands. The thing that remains the same throughout each of those generations is love. We were all raised with love.

I wasn't one of those people that jumped into parenthood without a chute. I studied all of the time and I knew what it was all about. I wondered about little things like carrying him from the bathtub and not knocking his head into a wall... which I have actually fallen down a few stairs with him so it happens... They say kids don't come with manuals, but they do... the internet seems to send me three e-mails a day with someone's advice on something about parenting... the thing is that no kid follows the manual to a "t." I seem to still learn something new each day.

We watch as Walker grows and learns new things each day as well. He loves to clap and dance and is just filled with joy. We love him more than life itself and we laugh and play along with him. Sometimes it's hard to slow down and not try to teach him at every moment. Sometimes I need to just stop and play with him instead of trying to teach him to clap a little better or sing a little louder. We are no longer in that cocoon we so enjoyed when we brought him home. Somehow the parents let us raise him without holding our hands. I don't know why because no matter how old we are, Nick and I are still and will still be raised by our parents! We look at them for guidance every day in decisions and how we live our lives! It's okay not being in the cocoon. We transform slowly into butterflies with our little Walker. Some days I think of it as like Christmas... we put Walker to sleep then we go to sleep knowing when we wake up a little bundle of joy is going to be our gift for the day. Yes, a butterfly family full of bright colors flying together as we navigate through the years. We made it through the first year by the grace of God. We got bruised, we fell down, we flew, we laughed and we cried. Our little blonde haired, blue eyed angelic butterfly is worth every moment.

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