Right after Jackson was born I, on a daily basis, tried to not have a breakdown. It wasn’t because having a newborn is hard, although having a newborn is very hard. It wasn’t because I was venturing into my last year of my doctoral degree, which is also quite hard. It was a culmination of the two. Every day of Jackson’s life has been measured by my school progress, just as equally, every check mark in my higher nursing education for the last 20 months has been marked by Jackson’s existence. My first day of clinicals was a Tuesday, and just 2 days before, on a Sunday afternoon, I found out I was pregnant. At 38 weeks along I learned how to apply casts on my classmates, but had to miss the morning of class that day to have a fetal echo done to check on my sweet boy’s heart. On the day he was born, I was supposed to be in class, but instead I was having the most life-changing day 400 miles away. When he was a week old, I became so, so sick, and I had him there with me, in class. There are few memories of school that don’t involve Jackson at some level, and few times Jackson’s life schedule didn’t depend on mommy’s school commitments. I remember thinking, “when I graduate in August, he’ll be almost a year old, he’ll be almost walking.” It was the warm fuzzy thought that got me through. I told myself I could do it, I would be okay. After he was born, I would repeat, “just 11 more months,” “just 8 more,” “just 3.” It was all about getting to August. Last October, November, January… well, August seemed so far away.
And then, suddenly, it wasn’t far away anymore.
In the same week Jackson turns 11 months old, I will graduate. For the first time, the measuring stick of Jackson’s life will no longer be my education. Those two things had become so intertwined. Like church and state; completely different entities, and yet, nearly impossible to separate cleanly. And, like I promised myself, my 11 month old is nearing the walking milestone, cruising everywhere and standing solo some. It is surreal.
He is amazing and funny and so very busy. He picks up on so much. He’s high-fivin’, clapping his hands, shaking his head no, being soooo-big, and waving bub-bye. He’s playing catch and throwing a ball and driving his toy truck on the carpet like it’s meant to be played with… not just chewing on it. He can get into his little rocking chair, turn around, sit down, and then get himself back out. It just amazes me.
He’s not really ahead on his milestones, not behind, just average. His top front teeth are FINALLY cutting through – I was afraid we’d need to invest in dentures by kindergarten. He’ll attempt to eat anything we hand him and may decide the dog should eat it instead, but also still loves his nursing time with momma. He babbles about momma and dadda a lot, but also directs those titles at us appropriately at times and imitates the sounds we make. And he’s turning into a daddy’s boy just a little bit more every day – Jesse is thrilled! And I am too, because we can share in the neediness that is a nearly one year old who can crawl over to you and try to pull your pants off begging for attention.
I am so excited for our little future, for our little family. I am excited to take my boards and pass them and move from that season of life. And, while it will also mean that our baby is a year old and no longer the tiny, cute, sleep-less, barfing bundle he was, his birthday represents so much more that 12 months of his life. It represents survival and success and strength.
11 months, so crazy…