A marshmallow year: Looking back and letting go

The baby is gone. Long live the toddler.

Photo by: rokebola

I’m sitting here surrounded by blocks, several large boxes from the new carseats, and a tree full of twinkly lights, and all I can think is, whoa. A whole year passed. How did that happen, when my GoodReads reading goal is only half met? I thought I had more time.

At first I thought it might be fun to compare my Google search history from my column in January 2015 to my Google search history from this past month.

Then:

  • when do babies start to coo
  • dogs driving me crazy after baby
  • baby not responding to loud noises
  • how long does sleep regression last

Now:

  • children’s museum richmond
  • Sunshine Kids Radian65SL
  • better ending to little women jo
  • febrile seizure mouth twitch

Looking at my history then versus now, I’m like, “Wow, I did it! I have moved on from being a fearful, anxious newborn parent to a typical parent doing research about carseats and things to do instead of things to worry about, and things I’m interested in just for me, and OK fine a few things that still cause a sudden spike of worry.”

I feel like I’ve arrived at a whole new stage. Not a better stage in the sense that newborn time sucked–those baby cuddles are things I’ll never get back. But this toddler stage is so different, not only in my daughter’s development, but in my development as a parent. I’ve reached a more confident stage. I like this stage very, very much.

Every stage that passes is so wonderful, so momentous, and so bittersweet. Everything they tell you about it all going by so fast is startlingly, achingly true. My husband and I worked harder than most to have this one child, and every new thing this year has felt like this blossoming, magical experience we’d longed for. Like biting into a juicy apple, or a puffy marshmallow dusted in sugar. But in that experience, there’s this sense of sadness too–that once this or that marshmallow stage has passed, that’s it.

Poof.

It’s been a magical year of stages, of growing, of experiencing so many things I longed to experience: a first birthday, first steps into the ocean, first words. But in that magic, that delicious single marshmallow meant to be enjoyed, there’s this deep desire to have a whole bag of marshmallows, not just this one in my hand. If I could, I would tip the bag into my mouth and devour every last one. I am greedy. I am selfish. I want more magic marshmallows.

But I just get this one.

Maybe.

Because there is hope, too. As I folded away a bunch of summer clothes that she’s outgrown, I found myself feeling a sense of hope that, even if I never have a newborn of my own again, that there are other ways of building our family too. This past November we plunked down more rent to the cryopreservation place in the Czech Republic to keep our embryo over there on ice for another year. In an interesting overlap, that November RVANews ran several stories about adoption as part of National Adoption Awareness Month that had me thinking long after I closed the tabs1. These stories cut deep to things that weigh on my mind a lot. Whether this means adoption, fostering, IVF with the embryo we have on ice, or not having more children at all–I don’t know. We’re on the road, but we’re not there yet. Wherever “there” is.

So that was 2015 for me and my family. It was a year of growth, of loving my daughter in whole new ways, of savoring every bite of this one marshmallow with ardent zeal, and of thinking about what the future holds for our family.

All I know is this:

Life will surprise you.


  1. Not to say we didn’t think of adoption before–you can’t experience infertility without everyone asking you if you’ve heard it’s a thing. We dipped our toes into international adoption waters and were denied at the time due to student loan debt. 
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Hayley DeRoche

Hayley DeRoche is a librarian with a penchant for cardigans and corduroys. Luckily, her professional life revolves more around technology & information than fashion.

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