I feel so incredibly blessed. Not because something tremendous happened today to make me feel that way, but because I am truly and genuinely blessed. We all are. Somehow, some way, loved or maybe less loved than we'd like... we're still blessed.
I'm laying on my bed typing this, which is something I never, ever do. I hear not-so-soft snoring coming from the nursery and I don't know whether to be concerned or amused by such a small person making such a big noise. I love my son. I love him more than it seems to mean when I say, "I love my son." I'll go and check on him here in a little bit and roll his head to the opposite side in an effort to still the snoring. And I'll think how silky his cheek is and how desperate I am to scoop him up and kiss on him. And then I'll go and tell my husband, like I always do: "Have I told you lately how awesome he is?!" and then we'll talk about having about a dozen more.
There's a peace in being the mother of an almost six month old that I didn't possess as a mother of a one week old or a four and a half week old or even of a two month old. I guess your courage builds over time. I remember the first time I changed his diaper at the hospital and I was so nervous. I felt like I didn't know what I was doing and I had changed diapers before! But somehow it was different. This was me, standing in a hospital gown, just hours after having given birth with the photographer waiting to take a naked baby shot for the hospital's website. I was all thumbs and shaky movements and it was such a small diaper and such an even smaller person. But we made it.
And we survived the first night and we battled out the trauma of breastfeeding and I had to make peace with what was not meant to be. I remember vividly not only sitting in the rocking chair in his room, splashing his tiny face with tears, but of the night I crawled into bed and my husband just wrapped me in his arms. And with a broken heart, full of frustration and fear and fatigue I said, "I just want to cry myself to sleep." He told me to do just that, if it would help.
In the beginning, I cried when my husband would leave for work. I don't know why, I just did. I wasn't scared of it just being me and Joel, but maybe on some level I was. I don't know. I think I was just overwhelmed and tired and had never had a child before. Cut a girl some slack. I had days where I couldn't wait to take a shower and yet the moment to take a shower would never come - not until husband was home and the day was all but over. There were a few times I lost my temper with our seven pound little piece of us and had to put him down and walk away. I'd walk as far as I could - which was typically to the farthest corner of our master bathroom which is not all that far. I'm human. Mothering is hard work. Everyone tells you that but you seem to think it's just hard because you don't get to sleep and you have to feed someone and clean them up all the time. It's so much more than that.
They forget to tell you that you're a messy sinner and your selfishness is going to bubble to the surface and brew until you're intoxicated by it. You won't think you are or that you do, but you will. Because you're human. Because you've never had a baby before. Because you've never had such a constant demand on your attention, your affections, your everything. Nothing is yours anymore. You don't have "me" time, or at least not scheduled. Not in the beginning. You get the leftovers. The small spaces of time that are typically unable to be redeemed or profitable because you're too shot to enjoy it anyway. You finally have time for a bubble bath but it sounds like too much effort to run the bath water and find a clean pair of pj's. You finally have time to read, but you're too tired. You finally have time to make that long overdue phone call to that best friend and yet you get on the phone and you've forgotten how to use your words.
It's okay. I know now that it's okay. I just didn't know it then.
I don't have it all figured out and I have a firm plan in mind to never have it all mapped out. I'm not so smart or naive to think that one day I'm going to wake up in the land of Super Mom. I don't think that exists. I think that there are really great mothers and that there are mothers who do the best they can. I think there are moms who are creative and strong and beautiful. There are mothers with manicures and mothers with chipped polish on their toes. There are women who become mothers because they couldn't wait to and others who had it sprung upon them. There are organic mothers and no candy until you're five mothers. There are mothers who believe in always singing before bed and others who tell you to put your child to bed fully awake and let them pass out on their own. We're all different. We're all the same.
Tonight I was reminded of that when someone told me that they had yelled at their baby. I had to smile, because you know, I've been there. Not because my baby was bad, but because I was being bad. I was "at my limit". She later told me that her baby had smiled at her - all was forgiven. Isn't that just how it is? I am finding so many of my faults in just these first early months of motherhood. What will I find out about myself in a year? Ten? It's daunting in a way.
But it's so pretty
As hard as the hard days are, I wouldn't trade it. I wouldn't stop with just one. I just can't. They're so precious. They're so innocent and without pretense. When I pick my son up and kiss his flushed cheeks after nap time and he is all little fat hands grabby and all open mouthed, trying to slather me with a kiss... that's just pure, unadulterated love. My son doesn't know it, but he offers me forgiveness all the time. Mommy isn't perfect, but he doesn't know that (yet). He just knows Mommy loves him. Even when Mommy is grouchy... he still knows I love him.
He may not know that he knows, but he knows. On some level. And he's always ready to give more smiles and more kisses. Even in the dark, when it's way too early for him to be awake, but he's lying in bed next to me anyway... I can see his smiles in the dim light of the morning. I can see that his eyes are sparkling, ready for the day. He's joyous. He's brilliant. He wants me to bring my face closer so that he can kiss me some more.
I am so blessed. Not because I have a husband who rushes home when I have a migraine that incapacitates me and makes me unable to properly take care of our baby. Not because I have an adorable, good-natured little boy who smiles, smiles, smiles. Not because we have a warm, safe house or two reliable vehicles or the fact that my favorite candles are burning in my home right now. It's really because my sins... my faults... my poor use of time and gifts... is forgiven.
I think that's what I am seeing right now, tonight, even as my little man sleeps. There are nights when I can't wait for him to get to sleep or I want someone else to take over so I can remember how to breathe (why do mothers always hold their breaths? Does that really help a child fall asleep?)... sometimes I'm not my best. But he smiles. He forgets. We move on to more squishes and giggles and silly songs.
God moves on. God squishes and giggles and sings over us. Our names are written in His book... but not all of our failures. Not all of the days when we don't do it good enough or we say words we shouldn't. He keeps tucking us in and lulling us to sleep, bringing us to true rest. He wipes the slate clean and helps us put away our toys and tears of the day. It's okay. The day is done. Mercies are new in the morning. Thank God.
If that's not the sign and seal on a blessed life, I don't know what else is...
"... let not your hands grow weak.
The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by His love;
He will exult over you with loud singing..."
~ Zephaniah 3:16b-17