A dear friend of mine climbed Mt. Hood last night. He started just before midnight, and at 5:30 a.m. texted me a picture of him standing on top of Oregon.
The morning light lit one side of his face. The colors on the horizon were evidence of dawn; the snow on the mountain, a testament to the cold. It looked beautiful, and I sat in bed, looking at my phone, remembering the world.
As I gazed down, my baby stretched awake, and I thought about our life together. Since my child arrived, I have had a tremendous amount of support. Though I am doing much on my own, there’s no way that I could do this alone, and I’ve gained new appreciation for the complexities of parenthood. There are constant decisions, constant changes, constant new challenges. I am in love with my baby, and I am in love with this process; it’s unlike anything else I’ve experienced.
I was talking with a friend last night about it all. I shared how there were things at the beginning that seemed impossible, whether that was the concept of breastfeeding, or the sheer number of diaper changes, or learning how to put my child into a new carrier, or any other number of things. Time has faded those challenges into everyday happenings, but there are always new ones to take their place. How do I make baby food? When do I buy a new car seat? Should I put him in my hiking backpack or wait a bit longer?
Simultaneously, there are the things that have seemed daunting on a larger scale, that take more intention for me to overcome: taking the baby and the puppies out at the same time first thing in the morning; building up a store of breastmilk in the freezer; putting up the beach tent by myself. I don’t think these are the same for all parents; I’m guessing we each have our particular challenges.
Whatever they are, I want to be conscious of working to become confident whenever I can. Parenting, it seems, is continually a tightrope of educated guesses, experiments, confidence, and humility, all wrapped up in a wild ride of discovery and joy.
This morning, after my sweet little one awoke, I told him about our favorite mountain climber. After a serious discussion of smiles and sticking out tongues, we agreed: we can do hard things, too. So, I fed him. I got us both dressed. I put in my contacts, brushed my teeth, slid on my shoes. I strapped my baby to my chest and hooked my puppies up to their harnesses. And I walked out the door with my crew surrounding me.
It may not be an 11,000-foot mountain, but somehow – puppies trotting alongside me, baby looking around, the town waking up in the background – in my own little way, I felt on top of the world anyway.