Happy New Year, Baby!

Becoming a parent changes everything but mostly New Years Eve.

The clock struck midnight as I cradled my newborn son in my arms. He was only 8 days old when the New Year rolled around in 2005.

My husband and I sat in our bed, trying to get our starving son to latch on for a feeding. My baby whimpered and fussed as he struggled to nurse, and, before I knew it, all three of us were crying from exhaustion and frustration.

Images of my childless friends haunted me. I could just visualize them at various celebrations, confetti in their hair and cocktails glasses clinking as they toasted the New Year. My life as an adult was over and the reality of the sacrafices we make as parents suddenly became all too real.

It was a far cry from the New Year's Eve parties I had attended in years past. The ringing in of a new year had always been a favorite holiday for me. I loved to put on a sequinced top and dance the night away with good friends. In an especially ambitious year, my pals and I wrapped an entire apartment in aluminum foil and Christmas lights. All guests were required to dress up as an alien or futuristic party goer. Oh, it was a night to remember.

Those days are over. I am now the proud mother of two children. A current New Year's Eve usually consists of my children sleeping peacefully in their beds while my husband and I try to stay awake late enough to watch the ball drop in Times Square on television.

I so wish that our town still staged First Night Athens. I've heard tales that downtown once offered an alcohol free, family oriented New Year's Eve celebration that included a variety of food, entertainment, and fireworks to ring in the New Year. Where did that celebration go? The parents of Athens need to celebrate too, right?

Now, we usually resort to taking turns dozing off on the couch and waking eachother up until the clock eventually strikes midnight. We smooch a sleepy kiss to celebrate and then promptly turn in for the night.

As my head hits the pillow, I grieve for the New Year's Eve parties of yesteryear. Where the music was loud and the champagne was flowing. Where the year to come was seen through a fog of confetti and streamers.

Honestly though, as I drift off to sleep in my quiet house, full of love, I know that I would trade every crazy night to be at home. Safe and sound with the ones I hold so dear to my heart. Each of us alseep in our beds and dreaming of all the good fortune we hope will come our way in the new year.

I've traded champagne flutes for sippy cups and I couldn't be happier.

Did becoming a parent change the way that you celebrate New Year's Eve? How will you spend New Year's Eve this year? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Jesse December 28, 2011 at 06:14 PM
Oh yes...parenting is a harsh reality, especially when it comes to celebrations. My littlest one is still nursing so we are planning a quiet night in. It would be a hassle to try to get her to take a bottle so I must give her full boob access, even on NYE! You are so right though, it's worth it!
Mary December 28, 2011 at 06:20 PM
We are being wild and crazy and getting a sitter for New Years Eve for the first time in 4 years. Our kids are getting older so it's about time mom and dad get to celebrate a little bit!
Linda Labbo December 28, 2011 at 06:47 PM
Seems that the celebrations got quieter but richer. Like you, I enjoyed knowing everyone was safe in bed, until I walked in to give them a goodnight-happy new year kiss. Just wait until those little tykes are teenagers... and you are home alone while they are out celebrating... yet another "celebration change." For me, that meant more time on my knees in prayer! ;-)
Sharon Swanepoel December 28, 2011 at 07:28 PM
I remember many, many years ago with my first baby, I thought I was so clever to take him on a party Hop on New Year's Eve. That is until I found I had disrupted his habit of sleeping through the night that he'd formed at 6 weeks. It took a couple of months to get him back into the habit. Needless to say, with the second baby we all slept through the night on New Year's Eve for a good few years.
Laruren December 28, 2011 at 07:36 PM
I love the image of you and your husband crying right along with your new baby at midnight. Becoming a new parent can be shocking but add the expectation of a celebration and it's no wonder you were in tears. We are gathering with fellow neighbors this year. The kids are piling into a room and watching DDV's until they pass out while the grown ups socialize in the living room. It gets easier as they get older. I remember those early days of being stuck at home for new years, though.
Stephanie Gross December 28, 2011 at 08:45 PM
Great article, Leigh! Tomorrow is our daughter's second birthday. Our first night home from the hospital was on New Year's Eve in 2009. It was exciting and exhausting and very different. Thanks for sharing your story!
Erinbjenkins December 29, 2011 at 02:30 AM
i always thought my parents were sort of lame for not doing anything for nye. but now i realize that they were jjst tired from chasing me around all day and praying for my safe return from a night out ( when i got older) Honestly, i just prefer staying in and sleeping since my baby prefers breakfast at 5:00 am.
Leigh Hewett December 29, 2011 at 02:29 PM
I remember my nursing days fondly...now that they are over. Yes, full boob access is needed even on holidays. I hope that you can manage to have fun at home.
Leigh Hewett December 29, 2011 at 02:29 PM
Good for you!
Leigh Hewett December 29, 2011 at 02:30 PM
That just gave me a heart attack. Now, toddlerhood seems pretty nice and safe.
Leigh Hewett December 29, 2011 at 02:31 PM
I feel your pain. I never imagined that the sleep habits of such a little person could so easily dictate a mama's life.
Xardox December 29, 2011 at 02:31 PM
Those babies are worth much more than a celebration dictated by a calendar. They're also a great excuse to grow up. Indeed, when the tables turn and they start to go out, a whole news set of maturing circumstances arise.
Leigh Hewett December 29, 2011 at 02:32 PM
So glad that you can commiserate that shocking first NYE with a baby. Happy birthday to your sweet girl.
Leigh Hewett December 29, 2011 at 02:33 PM
It's a little scary when you can start relating to your parents, huh?
Leigh Hewett December 29, 2011 at 02:34 PM
That sounds like fun!
Scarlet Buckley December 30, 2011 at 02:26 AM
yes, it's all different once you have little ones to think about. Now that my baby girl is 2 and a half, I feel like it's time to make it a special night. I'm not sure what we are going to do, but after reading the posts that mentioned teenagers, I am going to be so grateful that my little ones will be enjoying their time with grammy, and I can party without worrying about their safety.
Erin Lashley December 30, 2011 at 03:20 AM
This New Year's Eve I will be in bed by 10 so I can get up before dawn next day, bake a casserole for first Sunday fellowship breakfast, and lead all the hymns at both the 8:30 and 11:30 worship services at church. If you had told me ten years ago I'd be doing anything on any Sunday morning, especially a New Year's Day Sunday morning, other than trying to take enough Advil to get over Saturday night, I'd have had a good old laugh. I mean, I still like to go out occasionally, but dang if it's not really all that important anymore. I thank my son for making me grow up.
Caroline U December 31, 2011 at 03:25 AM
So true! I like how the Venezuelan's celebrate (my husband is from Venezuela so I am biased) Everyone is loud and dancing (including infants and children). It's a family affair and the children stay up late and run around the house of whoever is having the party while the parents eat and dance and hug and cheer. Then when the clock strikes 12 they hand out 12 grapes and you eat them all and make wishes for the new year! But, since all our Venezuelan family is in--well--Venezuela--we normally watch the ball drop on TV while the kids fall asleep around 9pm and we shortly after midnight! :))


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