Moms get sentimental about milestones. It’s what we do. It’s part of our design, I think… to take hold of those beautiful moments, to pluck them out of the air like sparkling jewels and tuck them away for safekeeping in a secret chamber within our ever-growing hearts. Maybe it’s so we can sneak into that chamber as they grow, so we may gaze upon our treasured bits of time and remember what it was to learn what real love is. To remember when we first realized what it truly meant to be “proud” of someone or when we learned we must surrender our fears to the process of time, or to the strength of others, to the wisdom of doctors or teachers. Maybe it’s so we can hold close those powerful doors into our own history to feel them radiate against our hearts in times of sorrow or loss. Or for when our babes become children then become teens and then adults. Maybe it is simply because we adore every moment of our lives as mothers and as much as we can manage to hold onto, to hoard away like greedy ravens collecting bits of gold and twine, we will do it without regret.
Whatever the case, in moments like this, we all, in our own way, open up that chamber of memories and gaze lovingly at what we have collected. This week I find myself opening up that chamber, so full and ever-growing with brilliant, powerful moments that I have stored away to reflect upon my five years of motherhood.
The tiny, fragile, precious baby born on November 8th 2010, is turing five on Sunday. I had absolutely no clue what I was in for. The Padawan was a planned pregnancy after several failed attempts, emotional breakdowns, rocky marriage moments and hormonal insanity. I did ovulation tests, took my temperature, tracked everything and did my best to make it happen, even wore fertility charms and ate all the foods everyone said I should eat… after three months of this, his tiny sprit chose me to be his mama. After so many losses and failures, he was almost the baby who never was… until he was… and how he’s five. I am deeply humbled by this process of parenting which began for me, the day I knew I was pregnant. It has turned the course of my life, it has changed the way I look at the world, and it has taken me down a path I never expected. I am so grateful.
Today I am writing a letter to the future version of my son. The one who is still nothing but shine and sparkle, the one who is innocent and passionate, the one who is a problem solver and has an eye for seeking challenges only, it seems, so he may overcome them. At two days away from five years old, I still get to cuddle him, he still curls up in my arms at night when he wakes with bad dreams or because he’s too cold in his bed alone. I still get to brush his gorgeous hair away from his eyes and I still get flooded with unsolicited hugs and kisses. I know some day these moments will be in the past. I know this, because just moments ago, he was a tiny, mewling, grunting and screaming banshee who I was trying desperately not to harm in some way because he was barely six pounds of pure love and I had no idea what I was doing.
Everyone tells you, “cherish every moment because soon it will be gone” and every new mom says, “yeah I do, stop telling me what to do – you act like I don’t cherish my baby!” And then before you even realize, the infant has lost his infant cry… he now has a baby cry. You blink and he’s learned how to sit up. How to roll over. How to crawl… how to run – how to ride a bike. Soon, even if you stop to relish every waking moment of his tiny life, those moments will all be nothing but memories.
I co-slept from the day he was born because he wouldn’t stop crying when I put him down. I nursed on demand, I attachment/gentle parented and I spaced out vaccines on an alternative schedule. I held him, wore him, nursed him and loved him 99.9% of every day. I did everything I could to drink in those still and silent moments of peaceful bonding. I soaked up his scent, the sound of his tiny voice, the gentle touch of his infant fingers… I have done everything I know how to preserve these early years so I would never be one of the moms who lament “the time went by so fast” and yet, it did anyway.
So, moms… do your best to cherish every moment. Take photos and post them unapologetically. Take buckets of videos and allow yourself to delight in the slightest of things and celebrate every single tiny moment and ignore ANYone who tells you you are going overboard. Do it because those days are numbered. Do it because you know you want to. Do it because judgement for loving your children and embracing your gift of motherhood is utterly foolish and you deserve to enjoy every last moment of it. You may not feel like it now while you wrestle with diapers, the challenges of breastfeeding, colic and sleepless nights, but before you realize, before you are ready… those moments will be gone and instead of a tiny baby you can hold in one arm, standing before you will be a child who speaks in complete sentences, can make their own sandwiches, get themselves dressed and even bring in the mail and then it will hit you, as it did with me just this week… you have a child. Not an infant. Not a baby. Not a toddler… a child and as proud as you are and as joyous these new years of discovery and independence can be, you will secretly long for the quiet moments, the 3am moments, the your-baby-can-only-be-happy-in-your-arms moments (the ones that have you huffing and puffing, supplementing with formula to avoid and complaining about while you contemplate how bad CIO could actually be) and it will break your heart to think you ever, even for a fleeting moment, wished it would pass and they’d just grow up. Because they will.
So, when random people you hardly know give you the advice you think is worthless or bossy, too personal or inappropriate… when they tell you what to feel or how important it is to cherish your baby and it makes you angry because it sounds like they’re assuming you don’t already… take a step back from your instinct to be angry and remember that one day, everything will be different. The moments you take for granted now can never be duplicated and so soon, far before you are ready, they will be over.