“All this time
that came before you
I have adored you,
I didn’t know ’til now.
Like a ripple in the sky
like a quiet tear in time
I see it all in my mind
I see it all now
and I can see your face
somewhere in the place
between born and born again and born again and born again
and I can hear your laughter after
after I go
every time I go, it calls me home
you call me home.“ - Costello
It’s easy to feel like everything has changed, and to focus on how different my life is, how different I am. But a lot about me is the same.
I still spend a good deal of my time analyzing the best way to spend my time. I still have a hard time getting up earlier than 7AM. (Okay, 9AM.) I still find myself thinking critically in the best and worst sense, nearly tirelessly. I still get lost in the facts of a fight, unaware that most of them don’t matter for healing or reconciliation… unaware that healing and reconciliation are the only things that matter. I still hate answering my phone. I still believe in God, and don’t believe in God almost every day. I still worry what will happen if I don’t get a “career” out of life, and I still tend to focus all my very limited energy on my relationships regardless. And I’m still plagued with thoughts that it’s never enough. And I still wish I read more.
In some ways, it’s a relief just to see nearly a paragraph of simple things that haven’t changed. I’m not proud of all of them by any means, but it seems easier most of the time to focus on everything that’s different. So it’s nice to remind myself, not everything.
This whole experience of change has had me thinking about my own mom quite a bit. Mainly, I really love her. I feel as if no matter what she does between now and death, there’s nothing that could change that. But still, I feel almost guilty knowing for the first time that I can’t actually love her like she loves me. I never knew how impossible that was. I always thought we had a mutual bond, and I guess, an equal one. Honestly I don’t know if that thought is interesting or mundane, because part of me can’t believe I ever thought I loved her as much as she loves me, and part of me still wants to argue for the briefest moment that I DO love her as much as she loves me, and then the next moment I know it’s not true.
I had no idea how one-sided the relationship was, and would be, always. And now I do. It’s not that I love my mom less than I love you, Wesley, but rather that it’s impossible for me to love anyone in the way that I love you. Even you couldn’t do it. Am I being cheesy? (Maybe that’s inevitable but we can add that to my earlier list: I still hate being cheesy.)
So I’ve been learning about one-sided relationships and why they are the hardest and most interesting in so many ways.
I’ve always loved to make people laugh but never as much as this. Finding new and creative ways to produce that sound literally fuels some of my days. My brother commented that when you really get in a fit of giggles you sound like a squeak box. It sounds like it’d be annoying but it’s pure magic.
If I had to list the 5 hardest things in the last year from least to greatest for you (because you asked, obviously) it would be:
waiting for breastfeeding to get better “with time” and not being able to just make it better by reading a book about it
not being able to give my mind fully to any one thing besides you, for a long stretch of time, because even when I was away from you, there was always something I had to do for you
managing my expectations for other people in my life
recovering from the 3rd degree tear
being and living far away from people that I want you to know and love
Since I had read a lot and spent a lot of time with kids, there’s a lot of things about taking care of one that didn’t shock me. Not in a cocky way, just honestly I’m an over-preparer, and this is how I made money on the side for a good deal of my life.
So, easily one of the most shocking things about raising you this year, Wesley, has been how happy you are. This has shown itself in perfectly developmentally-appropriate ways throughout the year. You were an “early” smiler, and an early giggler, and you did both of those things abundantly, generously, and without much bias for who the recipient was. A few months after crawling, you would wander around the house playing with your toys and then come find me or Evan and place your hands on us, and say in the most cheery tone, “Hiiiiiiiiiiiyyyyyyy”.
Later, when you started to pick up a few words you became obsessed with a little book that states 7 different emotions (each with a picture depicting that emotion through the life of a particular duck and goose). You almost immediately learned the word “happy” from that book. You re-named the book “happy” (to ask us to read it) and would say it before we would turn to that particular page (since it comes towards the end of the book). Sometimes we let you look at it in your crib before bed and you just turn the pages til you come to that spot and say “Happy!” over and over til you slump over in exhaustion.
I was not prepared for you.
I’ve been surprised at how alone I can feel in parenting. I don’t usually feel like I need people to agree with my life choices to feel good about them. And still, people making different choices than me doesn’t make me want to do anything differently than I’ve set out to do it. But I do feel lonely in that sometimes. Occasionally, I just wish I knew other people who were doing it the same way too in whatever particular thing is on my mind that day. I think parenthood is such a community journey, something you get started on and can’t help but look around constantly for someone who is experiencing the same thing right then. (This explains the billions of mom-boards on the internet.) So maybe that’s all I’m lonely for sometimes, more people who are experiencing it the same way I am.
Here are some highlights in no particular order:
When you were about 8 months old, I was holding you and got to watch you very slowly form the word “Maaaa-mmmmaa”. I learned in a short amount of time that this was actually your word for food, but that never diminished the impact of that moment for me because I wouldn’t have cared if you’d said “dirt” honestly, the fulfilled dream was getting to be there the moment you first used a word to communicate something.
The time last summer when you started smiling at Evan and me, and we knew it was for real because you kept on doing it for several minutes. (It felt so silly but I had this strange sense of, “oh look, he likes us!”)
When I heard the song on this post at a Valentines day concert and felt immediately that it captured my experience of you so well.
The first time we went to breakfast together. Per usual, you made friends with everyone there. You also discovered the joy of pancakes. You’re welcome.
The times we came home from vacation, and you leapt out of my arms out of excitement when we walked in the door towards everything familiar to you.
Most days I don’t wonder if I’m a good mom or not. But I do question whether I’m giving you the right amount of attention. Somehow you give me the perfect amount most of the time. You are inquisitive and adventurous, perusing new things on your own. You often come back to check in with me though, to say hi, to request a book, or more recently, to give a snuggle. I hope we are able to keep that balance forever. I’ll try to keep following your lead.
Some days I struggle to be home with you. I worry that it’s not enough for me. I get frustrated when you have bad days and I can’t figure out why and then I start to overthink whether I can do this or not.
I love it every time I hear you say “Daddy.” Your adoration of each other makes me so happy, I often just sit and think about it. It’s better than I imagined it would be.
I don’t think about your labor much, because it was hard and it’s painful even to remember parts of it. I didn’t feel like I knew you the second I met you or had some crazy connection. I’m grateful for every second I’ve had with you, but I don’t really miss that time of our lives. It was necessary, and it had its sweet moments, but I’m glad you’re one, Wesley. Every new morning I’ve woken up to you has honestly been better than the one before. We’re just starting to get to know each other and I find that so exciting.