Originally published 3/6/2016
As another day turns into another evening, my baby boy continues to grow. Today, he confidently pushed himself up onto his wobbly arms and legs, and began moving forward. This doesn’t make me sad as much as it startles me. I am genuinely shocked at how fast time is moving since this little guy entered the picture.
I haven’t wrote anything for myself in almost a year. For a while, I simply didn’t have time. Then, I didn’t have anything to say. And for a time, I had something to say, but I didn’t remember how to say it. But the more time that passes, the more confidence I have, not just in my mom-ing abilities, but in the things I want to say to the world.
Those close to me know how nervous I was for this journey into motherhood. Although it was not unplanned, it was full of genuine nerves and uncertainty as to what this was going to entail. I didn’t know what to expect, how it was going to alter our lifestyle, and how I was going to be as a mother. I knew I’d love my child but I didn’t know exactly what that would look like. Friends told me when my child was born, it would be ‘as if my heart was now outside my body’. People told me the love I would feel for my child would ‘take my breath away’. I was also told that it would be ‘the greatest, most amazing thing that has ever happened to me’. I am here to admit, with slight reservation and fear of judgement, that I did not love my child right away.
When my baby was first placed into my arms, I was told to prepare for this tidal wave of love to overcome me. I wasn’t expecting such a dramatic reaction because I hadn’t really felt a strong connection to my unborn while he was in my womb. I’m a very practical person and the wriggling, twisting and comically somersaulting alien inside my stomach wasn’t real to me. I yearned for that crazy connection, but it wasn’t something I could force myself to feel. So when I first heard the words, ‘It’s a boy!’ (we wanted the sex to be a surprise) and he was placed upon my chest, my first thought was, ‘Weird.’
This dark haired, round faced boy didn’t look like me or my husband. Surprisingly, he looked like my dad. ‘Weird’. The word was on repeat in my head like a skipping record. ‘Weird. This whole experience is so weird.’ I started to feel nauseous and asked my husband to hold the baby at this point. He took the baby in his arms and I saw a glimpse of my new unit. But still, all I could think was, ‘I have a son. Weird.’
Because I’m honest to a fault, when people asked things like, ‘Did you ever think you could love something so much?’ (yes, people actually asked this), I would respond with, ‘It’s definitely different!’ That was my honest thought. A new man had entered my life and I honestly didn’t even know if I liked him yet. At some deep maternal level, I’m sure I loved him. I probably already would have thrown myself in front of a bullet if need be (at least I assume I would have), but I didn’t have that ‘feeling’ everyone told me I would. The thing is, I think the feeling I had is probably pretty normal. It didn’t feel abnormal at the time although with what everyone else was telling me, it probably should have. When we brought our little guy home, I would stare at him for hours wondering why I didn’t feel like he was the ‘greatest thing I’ve ever done’. His features were so small and his skin was so soft. How I grew this amazing being inside of me was a mystery. The whole experience was so damn weird.
And then one day, it happened. I had that level of exhaustion that pales in comparison to cram-all-night college exhaustion and was in desperate need of a nap. I set this tiny baby in the middle of my king sized bed, positioned massive pillows on all side, and laid down a few feet from him. The worry-wart in me that read too many of those sensationalized ‘co-sleeping will kill your baby’ articles, made sure a healthy distance was between the baby and I before I dozed off. When I woke up an hour later, this helpless little creature had somehow scooted his entire body to mine. His tiny bare cheek was nuzzled into my chest and his soft hair was tickling the underside of my arm. At that moment, 6 weeks into motherhood, I felt it. It wasn’t what I was expecting nor was it what everyone had told me to prepare for, but I felt ‘it’. It was this calmness that settled into me. It was a knowingness that he was mine and I would do anything to keep him safe. It was love but it wasn’t a love I had ever felt before. It was mom love. And it probably feels different for everyone.
For me, it’s as if a different part of my brain turned on and all of the ‘bullshit’ fell to the sidelines. Suddenly, the well being and balance of my core unit was the most important thing to me. I look at him and see this amazing little person whose brain is absorbing every piece of information around him and morphing him into an incredible mini human. I love him in a way I didn’t really know I could love. It’s not the same love that I have for my husband or my dogs. It’s a big love, but it’s not overpowering. It’s just empowering enough. I assumed the feeling I would have would be all-encompassing and he would suddenly be my whole life. Instead, it’s as if a puzzle piece I didn’t know existed, settled into place. It wasn’t the whole puzzle, but a much needed corner piece.
I’m still figuring this whole Mom-thing out. I’m not an expert nor am I the Best Mom Ever, but I do feel more confident navigating this new path with Little Man in the picture. And I can’t wait to see where it leads me.
What’s making me smile right now: