06/16/2015 02:10 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What I Want My Son To Remember About the First Year of His Life


In less than two months my son will be a year old, which means I'm starting to think about his birthday party. I've finally decided on a theme and I'm allowing myself to purchase an expensive cake and I can feel myself obsessing about the intricate details that will somehow distinguish his celebration, from the countless others parents have thrown in their children's honor. I find myself entertaining complex ideas and unrealistic wish-lists and it didn't take me long to stop and realize:

He's not going to remember any of this.

This extravaganza - beautiful, though it may be - will not even be a reflection in his constantly-growing mind. There will be no recollection of the cake or the details or the theme, regardless of how many painstaking hours I, or someone far more qualified than I, spend on them.

Which, of course, lead me to an even larger realization:

When it comes to the first year of his life, a simple party is not what I would want my son to remember.

No, I would want him to remember that he wasn't, in fact, planned. He wasn't prayed for or wished on, he was a conscious decision. I want him to remember that we thought long and hard about his life, and how equipped his father and I would be to support it, and decided on him. We looked at one another and saw a palpable feeling of capability, pounding against our shocked corneas and excited tears, telling us we could be his parents.

We wanted him, and we picked him, and he was the best decision we've ever made.

I would want him to remember the first night we spent in the hospital together. He had a difficult time breathing and regulating his own body temperature, so the nurse asked me to unbutton my gown just enough to fit him inside. We slept skin to skin, his tiny body pressed up against mine so my body could help stabilize his. I would want him to remember that even though he was no longer living inside of me - then and now and always - I would use my body to support him.

My very warmth, my every breath, is forever working to sustain him.

I would want him to remember our first slow dance. He was cranky and in need of a nap and the usual mom bops and chair rocks weren't helping. I turned on an acoustic favorite from my high school days - when the very thought of him terrified me - and swayed back and forth in our living room, his head resting on my shoulder. I want him to remember me whispering the lyrics into his small ears, soothing him to sleep one melody at a time.

Before any awkward middle school boogie or romantic prom waltz or his first trip to the dance floor as a husband, he slow danced with his mother. And it was perfect.

I would want him to remember his firsts. The first time he rolled over or sat up or crawled or pulled himself up or took unassisted steps. I would want him to remember the first time he smiled or laughed or hiccuped or, yes, even pooped. I would want him to remember the look on our faces; pride and elation and accomplishment painting our pores with a confusing mix of delighted anguish.

Our love for him means celebrating every part of his life, even the parts that bring us closer to the day he won't need us.

I want him to remember our lazy mornings, when I take him from his crib to our bed and lay with him; giggling and playing and planting kisses on his nose. I would want him to remember that even though emails waited and conference calls beckoned and writing coaxed, simple moments where the light slid through our bedroom window and highlighted his wild hair, were more important. I would want him to know that while he stopped our world when we heard his heartbeat or felt him kick or held him for the first time, he also stops our world on Tuesday mornings, before coffee and showers and chores.

The smallest, most simplistic of moments spent with him, are moments I've etched into the largest parts of my heart.

But most importantly, I want him to remember that we did all of these things with the acute knowledge that he wouldn't actually remember. We made conscious decisions and worked hard to support him and danced with him and celebrated with him and greeted him with early morning kisses, simply because we love him.

I'd want him to remember that we will care for him and sacrifice for him and believe in him, not because we demand praise or deserve recognition or need validation. We do them because our love for him is as endless as the moments I keep tucked behind my rib cage, next to the heart that pumped for him and the lungs that breathed for him.

So, while he may not remember the first year of his life - or the detailed party we'll throw to celebrate it - we will. I will.

And like the nine months I ate and slept and grew for him, I'll remember for him too.