“The days are long, but the years are short.” – Gretchen Rubin

This week is my first son’s first birthday. It seems like just the other day I was in intense pain laboring to bring him into the world and now here we are celebrating his first year of life. He has grown and changed by leaps and bounds during these past twelve months. I am honored to have been able to spend every one of his 365 days of life thus far with him. I have learned how to be a mom and gained confidence in myself and my decisions. Here are 6 of my biggest takeaways from the first year of motherhood:

Love takes on a whole new depth and meaning.

Who knew you could love someone so much? They start out as a ball of cells and grow into someone that completely takes over your heart. They didn’t even exist before you created them. You didn’t even know them and now they consume all your thoughts and make you smile and bring so much pride.

Actions speak louder than words.

Don’t talk about how you are such a great parent or tell Facebook and Twitter what a great mom or dad you are. Spend time with your child and not on your social networks. Be yourself, throw a ball, take a walk, give them kisses. Show them love and love will come back to you tenfold.

Kids are sponges.

They learn so much in the first year. When they come into the world they don’t know anything and need you for every single thing day and night. By that first birthday they have learned how to roll over, sit up, crawl, possibly walk, eat solid foods, feed themselves, possibly talk, and are starting to get quite a personalty. Imagine if we as adults learned as much each year as they do. The world would be more advanced than it already is. The brain is an amazing thing.

You’re gonna miss this.

I love that song by Trace Adkins and this first year has solidified the truth of those lyrics. As much as I couldn’t wait for a certain phase to be over with and I looked forward to the day when I didn’t have to deal with it anymore, the truth is I missed it when it was gone. I will look back on these memories down the road and miss all the good and bad times that made up the first year.

Let them teach you.

It’s a fact that babies, unfortunately, can’t tell you what’s wrong. It’s hard and frustrating, but it’s life. Many times I was struggling with something and thought I knew what was best and kept trying to force my way of doing something on my son. He would cry and protest and I would dismiss it as “mother knows best.” When I finally gave in and stopped what I was doing to follow his lead things went much better. Sometimes even though they can’t talk in a way we are used to, they will tell you in their own hard to understand way what they want – we just have to be willing to listen.

The days are long but the years are short.

This is my favorite lesson of the year. Some days I’m so tired, get so frustrated, or am not in the mood to be a mommy and can’t wait for bedtime. However, as soon as my little boy is sleeping peacefully it never fails that I miss him and want to wake him up and play. So yes, the days are long. Sometimes very, very long. But the first year flew by like I’ve never experienced and that’s even more reason to enjoy every single second no matter if you are changing a poopy diaper, getting barfed on, or having the time of your life playing and listening to your child giggle their little heart out.

What have you learned in your first year of parenthood? What do you miss from the first year? Here’s to year #2!