Every Saturday morning I greet him with how old he is. “Happy 51 weeks, baby!” While I feed him and stroke his messy hair that smells of baby lotion I remember various parts of his birthday, first week, fifth month, etc. Every Saturday. I am noticing that this sort of emotional internal tradition of my Saturday mornings is creeping into every feeding.
Many a tear have fallen on my boys head as I nurse him to sleep at night. I hold him for a few extra minutes, trying desperately to memorize this moment, how soft his skin is, how his chubby feet are, the weight of his body against mine. When I am greeted by his smile in the morning, he holds on to me and rests his head on my shoulder. I feel my throat tighten. I find myself sitting at the computer watching the screen saver of his first 6 months, in amazement and sadness.
Everyone knows that life moves fast, that babies grow into toddlers, toddlers to teenagers. We have all seen it before, we know it is true. Just like so many lessons handed to me this year, the passing of time has never been as evident. Or so hard, so trying, so damn fantastic.
I suppose it does feel like a whole year has passed. It’s just that having this child makes so many cliches come to light. You try not to live them but you can’t help it. It is true, love like this simply does not exist before you have a family. I don’t know why, or how, but the love you have for other people in your life is not the same. Nothing can compare to how you feel, to what you would do for this tiny little person you barley know. But it is all true. All of the promises made by the Mothers who have gone before you, all of it. Your heart can hardly take it. Your sanity has never been so tested. Such extremes of this yin and yang.
One of the many things that surprised me is how I can keep loving him, more. How does it happen? Each day, each milestone, hell each smile you almost feel the tightening in your chest as your heart swells, again. I am amazed when we have a terrible day that I can forget all about it within 20 minutes of laying him down and miss him. It is often too much. I find myself crying over why me, why am I so lucky, what did I do to deserve this? I don’t know the answer but I know that everyday, whether fever, sleepless nights, or an up to the neck diaper that I am blessed.
As much as I try, as much as I talk about how to stay true to myself while I morph into a Mother, on the days when I’m not caught up in it I know that I am still largely my regular old self. I still have the same interests, like the same food, love the same man, live most of the same life. It’s more like being a Mother added another layer to my onion. The thinnest layer, the one that is tender and bruises easily. One that makes me protective and defensive of my ways. I try to strengthen the new layer but it is work. I find that even when I know what I am doing is right, having confidence everyday is a challenge. It’s not a job you are trained for, it’s one that is always changing so I too, must change with it. I do the research, I walk the walk. Even so, you are never ahead of the game, your boss is sneaky like that.
I have no idea what the next year will bring. I have seen 2 nieces and 4 nephews take my sisters down this path that is before me, yet I know it will hold all new surprises. No way of understanding how fun, hard, tear your hair out, heart growing two sizes in one day kind of madness is just around the corner. I am glad I don’t know. I don’t want to know. I try to hold on to this day, this stage, this baby. I just want to do that for a while longer. Before I know it the baby will be gone, I don’t want to miss a second.