Updated: Jan 5, 2021
Seven years and one day ago, we returned home after a day of tailgating and college football. Despite being very pregnant, I’d had a great time at the game, enjoying what I knew would probably be one of my last social outings for a while. Walking in the front door, I started to feel a little off. I was suddenly flushed and exhausted, weak and a little disoriented.
“I’m going to go lay down for a bit,” I announced, despite the fact that it was only 7 pm. Exhausted from the day of tailgating, I quickly fell asleep. In the early hours of the morning, something startled me awake.
Was that.. a contraction? I lay still, waiting to see if another would follow, if it was time to wake up my husband and head to the hospital. I checked the time, prepared to start timing contractions, started wondering if I was really ready to do this.
All of a sudden, despite the past months of making careful preparations: attending birthing classes, painstakingly selecting items for a registry, organizing the nursery, reading all the things about motherhood, I felt very unprepared.
Late that afternoon, a tiny baby was placed in my arms and my whole world changed: I was a mom.
I felt like I should know what I was doing. Knowledge came with the baby, right? I was already a stepmom, and I’d spent most of my life working with kids in some form or fashion, between babysitting, working at an after school program, being a camp counselor—surely, I was ready for this mom thing.
I didn’t factor in that I had no experience with brand new babies or that recovering from giving birth might take some time. Suddenly there was a tiny, fragile-seeming baby in my arms that I was responsible for, and I had no idea what I was doing. I’d read the books and taken the classes, but changing a diaper on a tiny baby, a tiny baby that was MINE, was something entirely different than the diapers I’d changed over the years. I listened carefully in the breastfeeding class, but figuring out how to nurse wasn’t something a class could teach me. I was uncertain and insecure, unsure if I was doing it right, feeling fragile myself after giving birth.
Today, that tiny baby is SEVEN, and he’s not so tiny anymore. My confidence as a mother has improved because of the practice he’s given me. Trial and error with him has taught me much of what I know today. As his younger brothers came along, they benefited from both my practice in diaper-changing, baby-wearing, nursing, and general increased knowledge in all things baby, as well as in my increased confidence. As we are leaving the baby years behind and forging ahead into the big kid years, tackling new challenges and insecurities, he’s still the one teaching me how, helping to improve my confidence as a mother.
At seven (HOW is he seven?!), he is funny. He loves to tell a joke. He is curious and thoughtful, interested to know how things work and ecstatic when he learns a new fact that grabs his attention (most recently, that astronaut Alan Shepard played golf on the moon). All sports have his athletic heart, but backyard golf is his current favorite hobby and he loves to read with me, which warms my heart. He’s becoming quite the LEGO master, and even though little brothers stealing LEGO pieces can be the source of much frustration, he’s a wonderful big brother. He has a big imagination and a memory for details. He loves our dog fiercely, never failing to remind me that her birthday is the day after his, and refusing to go to sleep until she is curled up at the end of his bed.
He no longer fits in my arms in a swaddle blanket, but when he jumps into my arms for a bear hug, I have a flash of the baby he was, even as I’m seeing a glimpse of the man he will be.
Being his mom is one of the greatest joys of my life, and even though this year has been hard with constant togetherness and the challenges of virtual school, the extra time with him has been a priceless gift.
#thirtydaysofgrateful with @exhale.creativity and @calliefeyen // days 23 & 24, something weak and something improved