I was asked to write this short editorial for the “What I Learned Last Year” series on the St. Louis Egotist, a popular blog that covers the design and advertising community.
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My second son was born in May of 2013, the older, Jupiter, being now three and a half, and the younger, George, 8 months. In my house, we call 2013 “The Lost Year.” The Lost Year is the first year of your child’s life, and it is lost because you – the parents – can’t do anything, or go anywhere. This is due to baby requirements which make it not impossible but very inconvenient and annoying to leave the house, the chief of which is the sacrosanct nap schedule. We learned this the first time around, but somehow forgot. Trying to develop your career, renovate a house, or train for a marathon? Don’t be silly. You may remember that all mammals are born with a “sucking reflex”, but the “time-sucking reflex” is what makes babies so powerful. They’re little time sucking vortices.
So it’s frustrating. And yet, I know this is a once-in-a-lifetime yearlong moment, the moment when my boys are so sweet and small, and need me so much. It’s unique, the drawing inward and knitting together of our new little family, full of tender and hilarious moments, and it won’t happen again. At the same time, we are buried right now, my wife and I, heads down, plowing through to reach the approximately 52 minutes at the end of each day when we can sit down and just talk to each other uninterrupted, or watch TV together before passing out. But at some point I’ll look up and the moment will be over, for good. Jupiter already gets annoyed when I hold his hand crossing the street. And George will eventually stop burrowing his head into my neck when I pick him up. One day I won’t be able to pick him up.
So I try hard to treasure the now, and I do occasionally succeed, though it’s difficult to muster that reflective attitude at 6:25 A.M. when the three-year-old climbs into our bed to “rest”, which means kicking me until I finally haul myself out of bed. Or when he is crying at the dinner table because we served him a delicious and nutritious meal made from scratch which is not made only of cheese. Or anytime, ever, that both boys are crying at once.
2013 is also the year I started using Instagram, at about the same time George was born, and I love it. I love that it’s instant, I love its sharability, I love its ability to record moments that would otherwise fade. Parenthood viewed through the nostalgic filter of snapshots is not a complete reality, but so what? It renders a whole that is pleasurable, more of the sweetness, less of the struggle.
Here is the rest of 2013.