It goes without saying that parenthood is a challenging and life-changing thing. Everything you thought you knew about parenting goes out the window--or so it might have for us, had the kidlet been a more difficult one. As it turned out, he really was the easiest baby ever--sleeping well from the first, no colic, bubbly and sunny and happy to play and loving his food. I may have gotten some stink-eyes from the consultatiebureau (child care office) when he ended up above the 99th percentile for weight at 4 months (yeah, he was a fat little guy), but since then he's started to elongate and now he's smack on the 50th percentile for everything. So I don't know that I actually learned anything about myself, other than the fact that changing a baby at 3 am really isn't that big a deal so long as he's got his lovey.
The consultatiebureau--or, as I write it on the calenders, consternatiebureau--is a health care office whose sole purpose is to make sure your kid is growing up...and growing Dutch. They were the ones who suggested that I feed the kidlet boterham for lunch (a slice of bread, usually spread with something). They are the ones in charge of sticking the kidlet with needles; they are the ones doing the well-baby checkups so that doctors don't have to spend their time looking at perfectly healthy babies. (If your baby should fall sick, then you take him to your huisarts, and he'll refer you to a pediatrician.) Despite our name for it, the only part of the visit that causes any consternation is the trip there--it's incredibly inconvenient by public transit, and at least 40 minutes on foot. I would, of course, ask Karel to drive me, but the appointments, which must be made at least 3 months in advance, never coincide with his days off.
Besides discovering my deep, downright hatred for sanctimommies and the like, this year has taught me that the day is longer than you think it is--I have never gotten more done in one year (ghostwriting four admittedly-crappy books, growing the business, sticking my toe into translations, joining and sticking with a gym) than this one. This year has taught me what I am really in control of--more and less than what I think: I am in control of more of my life than I thought, and less of the kidlet than I want. This year has taught me that being married doesn't make diaper changing any less stinky, nor my husband any more committed than he already was.
I'm bracing for a lot of hijinks and frustration this coming year, as our little guy becomes his own person--who demands to be read the same book 7 times in a row--and starts pushing the limits. So far, he's a good kid who only requires a stern talking-to and maybe one or two extra attempts before he decides something's not worth it. Maybe next year, I'll discover the real limits of my patience.