2023 wasn’t just any year. It was the year I gave birth to our son Maximilian, and a hurricane of tiny fists and gummy grins crashed into my world, leaving in his wake a trail of sleepless nights, overflowing diaper pails, and a love so profound it made my heart ache in the best way possible.

Leading up to his arrival on July 11th, I did my best to prepare for the adventure that lay ahead and was lucky to work on some incredible projects. I modeled in a runway show in January when I was 3 months pregnant, traveled to New York to see a poster I designed for the Chamber Orchestra of New York displayed outside of the world-famous Carnegie Hall and worked on some amazing projects, including the Path of the Panther Florida Premier. Even while on desk duty for the Air Force, I had the opportunity to continue to learn my military job.

Sure, there were moments of worry and anxiety gnawing at the edges of my newfound joy. But through it all, I learned to lean on a faith that was stronger than ever before, finding solace in the knowledge that worry wouldn’t change the situation; only acceptance and faith could usher in peace.

Being a mom, I discovered, is a delicate dance between the magnificent and the mundane. It’s the breathtaking miracle of witnessing a tiny human learn to breathe, coupled with the unglamorous grit of changing endless diapers. But the constant, through it all, is the unwavering love, a love that shines brighter with each giggle and each gurgle.

This love fuels my commitment to communication, a lifeline in the whirlwind of newborn days. With Matt, my partner in this incredible adventure, we’ve embraced radical honesty, a safe space where vulnerabilities are met with understanding. We talk openly about the sleep deprivation that turns mornings into a blurry canvas, the overwhelming joy that makes our hearts overflow, and the challenges that test our resilience. In this space of open communication, we find the strength to weather every storm, knowing that together, we can navigate the uncharted waters of parenthood.

And amidst the chaos, I steal moments for myself, precious pockets of time where I find peace in the pages of a well-worn journal. In these stolen moments, I reconnect with myself, the woman who exists beyond the title of “Mom,” the woman who still thrives on creativity and quiet contemplation. This self-care, I’ve learned, isn’t a luxury but a necessity, a fuel that replenishes my spirit and allows me to pour my best self back into my beloved son and our family.

2023 was a year that redefined me, pushed me, and revealed depths of love I never knew existed. As I watch Max explore the world with wide eyes and infectious laughter, I can’t help but look forward to what 2024 holds. With a heart full of gratitude, I embrace the unknown, ready to face it all: one stroller walk, one bedtime story, one gummy grin at a time.