Henry Turns 1

We had a little birthday party for Henry on Saturday. Not really for Henry; for us. Will handled all the decorations – seriously intense watercolor posters all around the dining room!… and we served lots of beer and grilled up a summer supper, and my brother’s awesome girlfriend made her unbelievable guacamole, and we all just sat around laughing with family and a few close friends while the children played with each other. 

decorating beforehandIt was lovely – laid-back and relaxing and a wonderful way to celebrate making it through a challenging year, as well as the END of Jason’s LAST SUMMER SEMESTER!!!! We now get to enjoy a full month of togetherness before he starts the last semester of the MBA. I am so proud of him and proud of myself. He’s learned so much! We have learned so much – mostly about how to communicate, and the contagiousness of true generosity, and how to handle big stressors. Though he has also given me several crash courses on the things that excited him the most, like financial analysis and investments and business strategy and management psychology. 😉  This past year has been really hard for me in an unusual way. See, each day has been totally doable. I get up, grab coffee, do an hour of work before the boys wake up, swim through our routine, get in a good workout, manage the household chores I can do and let go of the ones I can’t, make dinner while nursing a glass of red, get the boys into the bath and then into bed and then I come downstairs, clean up what I can (and again, let go of what I can’t), and crash on the couch til Jason walks in the door after class. The boys are used to the daily schedule and really, they’re not hard to parent. If I were a babysitter, I’d feel guilty for getting paid to take care of them because overall, they are happy, well-behaved, easy to please children. If you were to ask me at any point in the last year how I was doing, I would say honestly that I was great, doing good, just fine.But I realized a couple weeks ago, I have no real memories of Henry’s first 6 months. Nothing vivid. Nothing like the many happy, quiet moments from Will’s infancy that were frozen in time; the first time he stared at me, long mornings snuggling in bed with him, learning how to breastfeed; his little baths, tummy time, our first couple walks. So many hidden things I will never forget. Henry’s babyhood, in comparison, is a blur. A few random things stick out; but overall, its just one long vague, rather dreary memory. I start crying every time I think about this too much. Henry has been such an angel of a baby! I wish I had more memories of him as a sweet, quiet little infant. I guess I was just more in survival mode than I realized. I suppose that means you are in ACTUAL survival mode, if you can’t even look around you and decide you are in survival mode, because you are too overwhelmed to do anything except, you know, survive.

I think I instinctively wouldn’t let myself think about how hard it was, because I couldn’t afford the breakdown that might follow if I got discouraged. I had to just keep my chin up and stay focused on the present moment. That has been a powerful gift that I cannot take any credit for. Like Peter in the gospel this past Sunday… walking on water, doing fine until he started focusing on himself and freaking out about what he was doing… I have needed every grace I was given to simply do what I wouldn’t have thought possible had I stopped to think about it. Miraculously, I didn’t stop to notice how hard this season was until well after I was past the hard stage.THANK GOD FOR IPHONES. Even though I don’t have many memories stored in my head of my little towheaded 1 year old, I had thousands of them stored in my phone; moments I just snapped without even thinking twice about it – the blessing of your camera being your phone! Here they are for me to soak up after the fact. So that’s why this slideshow is so. Darn. CHEESY. I needed to indulge the memory making. I needed to stop and look back, and even though I may never have many real clear memories of this season, I will have them forever in pictures. 
If y’all care to see it, here it is :). //player.vimeo.com/video/103135646
Henry’s First Year from Kallah Oakes on Vimeo.


8 thoughts on “Henry Turns 1

  1. Kallah, this is such a poignant post, and one that I relate to many times over. When I think of the infancies of our children, much as you have articulated here, our oldest's milestones stand out in bold, strong hues, while those of our next two are a bit more muted, a bit softer. This contrast saddens me quite a bit – regret, guilt, nostalgia, fear of lost time and fading memories – but then I see the three of them interacting with each other, and I realize how fundamental the sibling relationship has been to the early years of our girls. Although I might not remember their firsts as much as I remember the firsts of their brother, the memories of them mimicking their older siblings or being cared for by their older siblings certainly stand out. Where I have slacked off due to the demands of taking care of more than one child as well as all of the other demands on my time and energy with my younger two, it seems that the sibling connections have more than compensated – at least that's what I tell myself!

    Congratulations on the end of the final summer term. I wish you all a joyous, blessed, and relaxing month together.


  2. I'm not a mom, but I'd bet that Elizabeth and Catherine would quickly tell you that my childhood was “documented” and “remembered” much more vividly and “faithfully” than theirs. And yet, they turned out just fine! … I think 😉
    In short, this is my way of saying – carpe diem with your boys! Don't mourn the moments you've temporarily forgotten (for I'm sure they will come flooding back at the least expected moments). Rather, enjoy NOW and trust that it's just as memorable and awesome as William's NOW.

    I love you, cousin!

  3. @Jennifer – thank you for sharing that! You don't even know how much I love hearing your reflections and thoughts, since you are just a little ahead of my stage in life!

    Yes – what I cannot share with Henry in the same way, he gets to share with Will. And I do not detect the slightest resentment or self-pity! haha. They are the sweetest to watch, and I've often wished for Will that he was able to experience the constant companionship Henry has had from Day 1.

    Still, its hard for me to accept my different role. Good to know I'm not the only one out there!

  4. I did care to see … all 4:46 of it! And I may have gotten a little teary eyed. Partially because you captured such sweet moments (and I 'Amen!' your praise for iPhones!). But honestly I'm in total disbelief that Mary Minor's 1st birthday is in a month and a half! I'm probably more in the camp of you and Will and having such sweet moments with her cemented into my memory from the moment we got to the hospital to have her. But I'm sure it won't be until I go back through her pictures (and create her cheesy slideshow) that I realize just how much we experienced together in this past year…and even how much I've missed!

    Your honesty is refreshing, because how can we possibly do everything we do in a day, AND remember every little moment? And capture it? And write a description of how it happened. I hate to hear that you think back to Henry's first months with sadness, because you can't remember it all, but I promise he won't ask for the date that he first rolled over or sat up, even though you might wish to remember these moments. The sound of his laughter and the curiosity in his eyes will probably always stay with you (and even when our humanness will fail us, praise again for the iPhone! 😉 ). But above all, your love for him from the moment you knew he existed will be a memory you won't ever forget.

    My mom, mother to 11, looks back at most of our childhood with a blank stare. We share stories and laugh about and reenact them, and she just laughs along, knowing that the memories are there, even though she can't remember. But her gift to us was having us all – not necessarily that she could tell us those stories FOR us. And in return, we gave her the gift of our laughter and love for each other…and her.

    I think it's safe to say you'll always be glad you made this not-so-cheesy-afterall slideshow of such a precious year!

  5. @Louise – thank you so much for sharing that. I teared up reading your comment. And as one of 6 I totally agree with your thoughts on growing up in a big family – the gift of siblings is the greatest gift, I think. I wish YOU had a blog! I would read it!!

    ps: Mary Minor is already almost 1?!! that did go by SO fast!!!

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