It was one year ago today. I laid awake, invariably exhausted, yet awake, listening to the grunts and squeaks of my brand new baby boy. He awakened every hour that night. With the new-mother adrenaline pumping through me, I sprung from my bed and happily took him in my arms, no hesitation, no grumbling. I was thrilled. I knew his sleepless nights wouldn’t last. I would be such a good mother that my son would be that talked-about and coveted newborn who slept through the night at two weeks. Yep, that would be my son.
One year later, I lay awake, invariably exhausted, yet awake, listening to the wails of my 12-month old boy, begging every known entity to get him back to sleep so I don’t have to crawl out of my nice, warm bed. There is an abundance of hesitation, and even more grumbling, as I peel myself off my mattress and drag my weary body into his nursery. One year later… My son does not sleep.
One year later. How could that be? One year ago I gave up my teaching career to become a mom. One year ago I looked down at my flawless baby boy, wondering how on earth I got so lucky. One year ago I finally found out that labor really does hurt as much as everyone says it does. One year ago my husband became a dad and I became a mom, changing our marriage forever… for the better. One year ago.
One year ago I flipped out when I picked my son off the floor and bumped his head, ever so slightly, into the side of the couch. I asked my husband, “Okay, I know I’m probably overreacting, but like what if it hit his soft spot or maybe it was harder than I originally thought? Do you think he’s acting funny?” I wish I was making this up, but alas, I was off-my-rocker with legitimate concern and overzealous panic over my new bundle of joy.
Now, I watch my son as he bumbles around our living room and into the kitchen. I hear him rummaging in a cupboard, pots and pans slamming against our cheap, laminate floor. Pots and pans–that means he is not in the cupboard with the poison, so it’s all good. Then, I hear a distinct sound that I have become surprisingly accustomed to–my son’s head hitting the floor. I wait to see if he will cry, or even whimper…the banging of the pots and pans resumes and he seems to have recovered with very little trouble.
One year ago I had an unhealthy fetish with mosquito netting whenever my son was to cross the threshold of our front door, into the outdoors. I no longer viewed the outdoors as a sanctuary of beauty and sunlight; it had suddenly become a trap of death for my son, everywhere I turned.
Now, I watch my son discover the outdoors with a permanent smile plastered to my face; it doesn’t even phase me when he eats a bug. It is incredible to watch him touch grass, sand, rocks, leaves, trees, and… yep… dog poop for the first time (of course, dog poop does cause me to freak out a bit). I get up to comfort him the first time he trips over a crack in our driveway and cheer with pride when he remembers to step over it the next time. I overflow with pride when he tosses, or rolls, or more like drops a ball, toward me.
One year ago my husband and I could be found screaming at one another in the dead of night, while our son screamed louder. We were at a loss for what to do for him, and desperate for some peace and quiet. My son still screams, but my husband and I have learned to handle it with style and grace. Sometimes, as my son collapses to the floor, tragically heartbroken because he is not allowed to suck on the toilet, it even makes us laugh.
One year ago I genuinely worried about my ability to be a mother. How could I possibly care for a baby while still remembering to eat, shower, and clean the house? How could I possibly care for a baby in the dead of night, without neglecting him as I settle into another dream? How could I possibly care for a baby in the zero belows of the winter months without forgetting his hat, causing his ears to fall off?
Now, I still genuinely worry about my ability to be a mother, but we have somehow made it through the first year with few catastrophes. I have showered and eaten daily, and found comfort in the new-clean of my home, which generally consists of random items from every drawer in the house being dropped about like crumbs. I am far from perfect; I have screwed up royally; I still pray passionately for grace when it comes to my parenting, but my son thinks I’m a rockstar. That, to me, makes me a success.
One year with my son has made me crazier than I ever thought I could be, and calmed my soul in a way that I can’t possibly explain. I still lose my mind when he wakes with a runny nose, desperate to find a cure to the common cold. Yet, I laugh and roll my eyes when our snot-nosed dog with grass and dirt hanging from his mouth, shoves his nose right into my son’s mouth–the smile this creates on my son almost makes it worth it, no matter how disgusting it is to witness. I have felt every kind of happiness, every kind of fear, every kind of desperation, and every kind of pride as I have watched my baby transform into a kind, joyful, active, and terrifyingly adventurous little boy.
There is no greater gift.