11 Life Lessons My 1 Year Old Has Taught Me
Words: Barbara Verneus
Visuals: Joshua Wann
A new mom reflects on how much she’s changed since becoming a mother a year ago.
This year my daughter Glorious-Zoelle Shaddai turned one on June 17, and I threw us a celebration—that’s right, us!
I had so many mixed emotions about becoming a mother, but I celebrated making it through my first year. I celebrated that I did not lose my mind. I celebrated that I was blessed with an amazing being of a daughter. I celebrated being blessed enough to be surrounded by a community of people who love and support my daughter and I. And most of all, I celebrated how the Lord was with us every step of the way.
In 2013, when I first learned I was pregnant, I became extremely depressed, lost my job, and had an ugly dispute with her father, who was not present for the entire pregnancy and who wanted nothing to do with us. I was totally miserable and saw nothing to be optimistic about in my situation; I went from being a lively, carefree spirit to a confused and suicidal shell of that person. As my due date approached, I wondered if I should keep her or give her up for adoption.
But once I saw her, my life and perspective were turned upside down. It felt surreal: I was a mother to this tiny person with such a giant spirit. I couldn’t believe it. I was still overwhelmed with emotions and feelings of inadequacy, but I was a mom. Glorious-Zoelle has balanced me in ways I never thought she would, and she’s taught me so much in the last year:
My daughter exposed the reality of my mortality. I now know that life is nothing but a snap of the finger, and because of that I choose to live a fulfilling life by any means necessary.
I’ve learned that every action I take affects the future of my daughter. I’m working on finishing my masters in counseling to become a licensed professional counselor. I want to provide a financial foundation for my daughter's future and so I can spend more time with her at home. I’m creating an environment where she never has to question her identity, her dreams, her visions, wants, or future.
After becoming a mom, my shortcomings have come to the surface—and I have no other choice but to deal with them head on. Glorious is always watching me and her pure heart and innocence demands it from me.
Glorious-Zoelle has redefined my ideas of revolution. We live in a world filled with hate, inequality, racism, misogyny, and so many other indecencies and sufferings. It’s a world that wants to corrupt her innocence and power. If I can help her realize that she is powerful, then she will not let anyone or anything limit her. And as I fight to do this for her, I will also fight for those very souls I come across through the various work I do.
My daughter has taught me you can still have joy and happiness in your season of grief and hardship. She has encouraged me to realize the magnitude of my strength and she has taught me that I am more powerful than I think.
She has helped me let go of what I can’t control and helped me assess what is important enough to keep in my life. I’ve learned to let go of what is not worth our time because time is one of the most valuable assets we have.
My daughter has given me a focus that makes the possibilities for us endless. I am confident and assured in the things I am now pursuing; there is not one bone of self-doubt in my body. If I fail, I just learn from it, reassess, and readjust because success is inevitable.
She has revised my view of my own beauty. She is my reflection and I AM BEAUTIFUL.
She has taught me how to be patient, kind, and understanding in ways I wasn’t before. I am learning to forgive more, including myself.
I am able to cherish my time and my space. When I’m with my daughter, I’m able to stop and enjoy that very moment with her because every moment with her is precious.
She has renewed my relationship with my first love: Christ, who is also teaching me to trust and hope in love again, guided by wisdom and discernment.
And because of all that she has taught me, I will fight to protect her, teach her, and love her as long as I am allowed to. She is my sunshine.
Barbara Verneus is a doula, family health advocate, and mother of one based in Philadelphia. She’s in the process of completing her masters in counseling with a concentration in marriage and family.