There will never be another phase of my life that's quite the same.
During that first pregnancy, I read all the books, and read even more online. I prepared the nursery -- right down to each little sleeper organized by size in his closet. I daydreamed, talked to other mothers. I compared different kinds of diapers, routines, car seats. I decided what kind of mother I wanted to be. I developed my own image of what motherhood will be like, ignoring those who told me nothing ever goes as planned.
Then the baby arrived.
Resisting the urge to launch into another sentimental trip down memory lane (as I have been doing in my head all month), I thought this week I'd simply share some of the things I figured out in a year of being a mom:
• Pee and poo are part of life. Sometimes, they can even amaze you with their ability to shoot through the air and with their vast variety of textures and colors.
• Babies just don't get that there are 24 hours in a day. And just when you think there is a routine, they change it on you.
• It is possible to nurse a baby and eat a Whopper -- simultaneously -- if you're both hungry enough.
• The term "runny nose" isn't always sufficient. When I read about babies having cold symptoms while teething, I was not at all prepared how much a nose really can resemble a faucet.
• Messes happen. Two years ago if someone spilled a bowl of chili all over my carpet, I would lose it. When my son grabbed the edge of the bowl just enough to tip it, I was only happy he wasn't burned.
• A baby can reach, crawl and climb more than you think, and they usually do it the minute you aren't looking. I think babies might even have the instinctive ability to climb stairs. On top of that, mine has the added bonus of being able to climb to a stand from just about any seated, strapped-in position, including in high chairs and shopping carts.
• There's no need to waste too much money on toys. Things like washcloths, vacuum attachments, cardboard paper towel tubes and remote controls will enthrall a baby for hours.
• There will never be a shortage of women to say "Oh, I wish my baby was still that age." This will make you worry about what older babies must be like.
• It's always impossible to imagine the next stage, but somehow, we always manage. I remember looking at my little boy's smooth-gummed smile and thinking, "He'll look weird with teeth." I remember not being able to imagine him actually clapping along when I sing "Pat-a-cake" or what it would sound like when he laughed or even spoke.
And see, there, I've done it.
I guess that's another key lesson you figure out quickly: When you're a parent, you might as well count on being sentimental.
Happy birthday, son, you make life more entertaining than I could ever have imagined.
• Contact Jessica Wiant at email@example.com.