The first year of motherhood is tough and challenging to navigate, but mama… you did it. Your baby turning one brings about a mix of emotions and questions about where the time has gone because this pivotal moment shows just how fast it all passes by. And while this is a huge and joyous moment to celebrate for your little one (their first word, their first tooth, their first steps, their first year of developmental milestones), it is also a monumental moment for you.

Celebrating your first birthday as a mom

Celebrating your baby’s first birthday is important. Celebrating your first birthday as a mom is just as crucial. Why? Because mama, you made it through.

The birth experience that welcomed your child into the world. The first tiring night home from the hospital—which flipped that world upside down. And then the moment your baby first smiled up at you—which righted your world once again. 

You realized that motherhood is both hard and beautiful. Both ambiguous and defining. 

Mama, you made it through.

The sleepless nights—and sleep regressions. The going back to work—or making the decision to stay home. The constant angst and worry—and the rabbit hole of Google searches at 2 a.m. You made it through the uprooting of life as you once knew it—and the laying down of a new foundation for your family.

You sacrificed showers and solitude for diaper changes and skin-to-skin. You fell out of love with your postpartum body, and are slowly learning to love it again. You sifted through uncomfortable postpartum emotions—maybe even battled with postpartum depression or anxiety. You lost a version of yourself and struggled with a shift in your identity. But now you are learning to love the version of who you are becoming.

Mama, you embraced uncertainty and vulnerability. You swam in oceans of doubt, often wondering if you were doing this motherhood thing right, but you learned to trust your “motherly instincts.”

You realized that motherhood is both hard and beautiful. Both ambiguous and defining. You realized that it isn’t just one thing, but a mixture of everything—the good and bad. The sun and storms.

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Sure enough, you made mistakes (and these won’t be the last of them). You spilled milk and cried for hours. You felt further away from your partner than you have ever felt before. You chose between breastfeeding or formula feeding, daycare or an in-home nanny, and countless other decisions that fell upon you. You battled with mom-guilt amongst unsolicited advice from strangers—and loved ones.

But on the other side of all of those things, mama, you made it through.

You lost friends—and gained some of the best ones. You waddled through loneliness to find your community. You learned to prioritize yourself, realizing that a well-balanced mama can give so much more. You learned to reach out for help rather than feeling the need to do it all. You experienced some of the best moments of your life—and maybe even some of the worst ones—but you realized that this is what makes motherhood. The ups and downs. The laughter and the tears—and even the two mixed together in an emotional moment such as this one, the first birthday.

And all the while, you learned how to stay afloat amidst this all-consuming role.

You surrendered to the journey. You made it through the changes—the routines that stuck and the ones that drifted away. You made it through some of the loneliest moments, though you initially imagined that it would be nothing but bliss. You made it through the pressures that accompany being a mom in today’s society, and you will continue to do so.

Mama, this first year is a monumental marker for you. You became a safety net for your child—the one thing that could calm the storm of tantrums and teething fevers. The one thing that could soothe even the toughest of days. You became an anchor. And all the while, you learned how to stay afloat amidst this all-consuming role.

So while you’re scrolling through the photos and videos you’ve accumulated throughout this first year (crying hysterically in your bed), remember the freshness of the moment you became a mama—for the first time, or again. Celebrate how far you’ve come since that moment. How much you’ve learned—and unlearned. How much you’ve grown—and will continue to grow. How much your love has expanded, and make room for it to expand even more.

Because you made it, mama. One year down the long road of motherhood. And many, many more to go.

A version of this story was originally published on May 25, 2022. It has been updated.