Thursday, November 15, 2012

Savoring Every Spoonful of Sweetness

Dear Charlie, 

A few short months ago I was still just imagining what it would be like to be a mom, excited to meet you but worrying over whether I'd be able to adjust to the responsibility and agonizing that I would somehow break you.  I wondered whether I'd still keep my identity as a person and if there would still be time for the things I loved to do in my life "before." 

It's amazing how these past few months have changed my whole outlook on life.  

I now have the best job in the whole world as your Mommy.  Yes, I'm still my own person with interests, dreams and goals, but first and foremost, I'm your mom, Little Nugget.  And life is so good this way.

I used to smile and nod politely when other moms would describe just how changed for the better their worlds were after they had children, how they loved everything about their child and didn't care that there was less “me” time, because it was all worth it.  Then they would describe sleepless nights as a "passing phase" they could barely recall, and I'd discount anything they’d said before, reeling at the suggestion that lost sleep could ever be acceptable. 

These moms told me how they now worried about the craziest things, that they had new super powers that would wake them from a dead sleep at the slightest whisper of a noise from the baby's room and that they could spend hours just staring at their little one.  Again I’d smile, but wonder to myself whether they ever got just a little bit frustrated or bored. 

Well, I get it now.  From the desire to just sit and gaze at this amazing little person who has filled my heart to bursting to that overwhelming  feeling that I would stop traffic or run into a burning building, ANYTHING, to keep you safe.
Just looking at that face, your sweet crinkly eyebrows, turns me to mush.  You have owned my heart from the moment you entered this world, Charlie, and I can't stop thinking about what a blessed, golden time this is.  You are such a sweet little man and life with you in it is so incredibly good.  

The simplest things about being your mom fill me to overflowing with joy and gratitude for the gift that is you:

·      Listening to the first sounds of you waking up in the morning, grunting and chirping to yourself, just hanging out.  And then that big, happy smile that breaks across your cherubic little face as we come in to welcome you to the day.

·      I love how you hold on to my fingers when I feed you your bottle, and the way you constantly "worry" fabric, rubbing it between your tiny fingers while you eat and take in the world.  Do you know that your mommy, your Nana and even your Great Grandma Jean did that too?  It seems crazy, but you have inherited, of all things, an unconscious need to rub soft fabric and snuggle it up to your face for comfort.

While I love all things about our days together, I particularly treasure our late night feedings.  Just as Daddy has his early mornings with you, the nights are mine.  I love going into your room to scoop you up, my fingers tingling with anticipation, though I always feel a little guilty waking you out of the peaceful sleep of an angel.  But then, once you're full and I put you over my shoulder to burp, you fall asleep again, so content, so relaxed and trusting, your milky baby breath softly brushing my neck.  

I'll sit there still patting your back, knowing I need to return you to your crib for the night, but always savoring it for just a little longer because I just want to hold on to you forever. So I press my cheek to your warm baby head and take it in for just a few minutes longer. 

When I was first pregnant, a part of me worried that I would wish away the baby times because I wouldn't know what to do with you.  You'd be so little, so floppy, so helpless, so needy.  I'd see families with older children and think, "If we can just make it until he's that age, we'll be fine..."

I couldn't have been more wrong.  Yes, you were all of those things -  a bit floppy, somewhat needy and altogether dependent upon us to care for you -  but as it turned out, I love having a baby.  From the moment our eyes first met, I knew we were in this thing together and then none of it was scary anymore.  

It's been lot of work, but nothing we can't handle together because we are a team - you, your dad and me.  Who knew that so many of the things I'd once feared would turn out to be the treasures to which I'd want to hold on, to savor like the last spoonful of dessert?  Being your mom is like breathing.  It is so natural, so comfortable and so completely a part of who I am now.  
Everyone tells me that as their babies grow, they look back fondly on what came before but always think the current stage is "the best."   This is comforting in the moments when I start to feel that it's all going too fast.  Some nights I don't want to go to sleep for fear of this time slipping away.  I can't help but wonder how this life, this time with you, could get any better.  And I want each moment with you while you are like this - so sweet and happy and snuggly - to last forever.

And then the very next day you pull something brand new out of our bag of tricks and I am reminded of how good it will continue to be as you explore this big world.  The first time you smiled or laughed or reached for me melted my heart anew.  Each new discovery you’ve made has been a wonder for all of us. 

So, yes, I'm looking forward to watching you learn and grow, to discover and delight in the newness of things.   I know that's part of what makes being a parent so rewarding.  But for once in my life, I'm not letting myself worry too much about what comes next.  

For now, I plan to continue inhaling that sweet scent of bébé-head, the chuckles and grunts erupting coming from the backseat on our morning car rides and the feeling of your soft baby fuzz brushing against my cheek as we snuggle and you burrow your little face more deeply into the crook of my shoulder.  

I know you won't always be this little and that someday I will yearn for the pureness of this time.  So for today and tomorrow and the next day after that, I will be fully, completely present, savoring every morsel of this time together and reveling in every last spoonful of its sweetness.

Monday, May 14, 2012

It Never Gets Old

There are a number of things about being pregnant that I will not miss, namely the physical discomforts that go along with it (heartburn, back pain and swollen ankles, I'm looking at you), but there are certain parts of this journey I will undoubtedly miss.  These are my "Top Five Things About Pregnancy That Never Get Old:"

 1.  Watching my belly dance.  I used to think that my control-freak, type A self would be horrified by the experience of having something - rather, someONE - moving around inside me like an alien bodysnatcher, but I am, in fact, completely enamored with this aspect of pregnancy.  As I sit here, Charlie is doing what I'm convinced is "the worm" in my tummy, and it amuses me to no end.  I have been fascinated from the first time I felt the gas-bubble like flutter of his movements to today when I can watch my entire midriff undulate with his squirms.  In fact, if I didn't have to function in normal society, I think I could watch it all day long.  Each time I see my little man dance or feel what I assume is a tiny little foot poking my side, a fresh jolt of joy washes right over me.  For as excited as I am to meet Charlie and cuddle him in my arms in a few short weeks, I know a part of me will miss having him in my big old belly to entertain me with his in-utero dance parties.

2.  The Kangaroo effect.  It may be odd, but I keep thinking of myself as a kangaroo carrying little Charlie around everywhere I go in my pouch, and I simply love it.  He is portable, completely contained and quite good company.

3.  The unsolicited smiles of other women.  There is something about a visibly pregnant lady that makes other women smile, whether it's at the grocery store, on the street or at the mall.  I assume they're all mothers who, upon seeing me, are reminded of the days they carried own little "joeys" in their kangaroo pouches and are wistfully cherishing the happy memories (I guarantee they're not remembering feeling like an overturned turtle whenever they rolled over in bed at night or the moment they first looked down and saw somebody else's swollen feet and cankles instead of their own formerly normal-looking feet).  Whenever a strange woman flashes me a smile or offers a word of congratulations or encouragement, it makes me proud of the invisible bond of sisterhood among women (note that the same cannot be said about the dirty old men who leer at pregnant ladies passing them on the street; they are just gross).

4.  The pregnancy hair and "glow."  It may be vain, but I'm looking on the bright side here.  I have to thank Charlie for at least giving me the best skin and hair of my life.  It may just be temporary, but I try to focus on these small things instead of the fact that everything from my waist down is getting bigger by the day...

5.  Conversations with the belly.  It all comes back to the belly, I know.  While I could do without every other part of me expanding in this pregnancy, I do love this buddha belly, because I know our little Charlie is growing in there.  Even more so, I love it when my darling hubby talks to the belly.  Every morning and every evening he says hello and goodnight to our son with a twinkle in his eye, and it just melts my heart.

So while I'm very ready to meet our little guy, I'm trying to cherish the special moments of these last few weeks before his arrival (and the onset of sleep deprivation).  I know this is just the beginning of a lifetime of "Things That Never Get Old," and I can't wait to see what else he has in store for us.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Letter to Our Son

February 21, 2012 (22 weeks pregnant)

Dear Son,

We haven’t met yet, but already we know each other. By now, you can hear the sound of my voice, and each day I feel you getting stronger inside my belly. It gives me such joy to feel you moving around in there and I imagine how soon we’ll be dancing together.

Last night your dad felt you move for the first time. It was a moment I’ll never forget. As we sat on the couch after dinner, I felt you starting to stir and placed his hand on my belly. I said, “Dance for your daddy.” Amazingly, you did just that. No sooner had I said it than you give a nice, solid thump to the heel of his hand that sent your dad over the moon and back with excitement. His joy and amazement were both loud and completely overwhelming. Already, you’re bringing us so much happiness. We can’t wait to meet you.

Until we do, I want to tell you a little bit about us and about our promises to you. You are so blessed to be joining a great, big extended family filled with so much love. You have grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins (both those related by blood and those who are family by choice) of every age who are so excited to know you and who will be there to support you throughout your entire life. You have relatives like your Grandpa John who may no longer be here with us physically, but whom you will come to know through our memories and who will always be watching over you. You have parents who are madly, crazily in love with each other, and who promise to raise you secure in the knowledge that you’re part of a happy family.

So with that, here are some thoughts about what you can expect of your life with us:

  • There will be lots of laughter. You have a boatload of goofy and fun relatives, and we’re pretty darn committed to making this family a fun place for you to learn and grow. At some point, you may find us embarrassing, but we’re confident that will only last for a few years. Otherwise, you can expect to have plenty of good times goofing around with us. And dancing. There will be a lot of dancing. In fact, I want you to learn something early on: You don’t have to be a trained dancer - or even particularly good at it - to have a great time on the dance floor. You don’t even have to have rhythm. You just have to love it and be willing to look like you do. Frankly, girls love a guy who’s willing to dance and they do not care whether or not you’re good at it (just ask your dad). Consider this your first bit of dating advice, not that you’ll be allowed to do that for a very long time...
  • There will be a lot of snuggles. Just say the word and you’re guaranteed a hug, kiss or cuddle from either one or both of us. Sometimes we may even force you to give one to us when you don't really feel like it. When you’re a teenager, this too may embarrass you, but hopefully it will teach you how important it is for families to express their love and support of each other.
  • We promise to give you everything you need, but not everything you want. God willing, you will not want for food, shelter, air or water. But you won’t always get that toy/candy bar/video game, etc. that you...MUST...have. You may hate us for this when your friends get the newest, fanciest thing-a-ma-jig, but someday you really will thank us. Your grandparents have taught us the value of appreciating what we have and of earning the things we really want. We plan to pass this gift along to you.
  • We will love you unconditionally. We haven’t even met you yet and we already do. We will give you opportunities to find what you love and the knowledge that you don’t have to be perfect or the best at things to enjoy them. We will support you whether you are the “star” or simply show up to warm the bench/sit on sidelines/watch from backstage, as long as you feel good about being part of that something - whatever it may be.
  • You will learn to be a gentleman. We will teach you that it’s better to be kind, considerate and thoughtful to others than to get there first, be the smartest or even to be right. You will see that opening doors for other people, paying generous compliments, saying thank you often (including sending thank you notes), asking nicely (while using the word “please”) and always, always, returning shopping carts to the corral all offer their own reward. You will feel good doing these things and sometimes you will find yourself making someone’s day, even if you never know it.
  • You are the light of our life, but it won’t always be all about you. Yes, that’s hard to say right now when we’re expecting a newborn baby soon. For several months, it WILL be all about you and it will always be about making sure you have what you need and are loved and cared for completely. But in the long term, there will be times that are just for the adults. And that’s OK. We love you, but you’ll still have to go to bed on time (usually before we do and often before our guests leave), learn to entertain yourself, enjoy an evening with a babysitter, etc. Hopefully this will give you the gift of seeing that you’re part of something much bigger and that you are an important - though not the only - member of a whole.
  • Being a good person is more important than being popular. There will be times when you will want to roll your eyes at this, but trust us on this one. You will never regret being kind to other people; you will regret those times when you weren’t. We will encourage you to make true, solid friendships without regard for whether they are the “cool kids.” They might just be, but what really matters is knowing that you have found kindred spirits who understand you and who will stand by your side. These are the people you will take with you throughout your life. They will make the good times even better and the bad times not so terrible.
  • We will give you the gift of faith, and we will support you in finding your own personal relationship with God. We will take you to church and Sunday school and teach you Christian values, including love and acceptance of others above all. Ultimately, we hope to demonstrate through our actions that it’s not about what you say you believe or how and where you worship - but how you behave - that makes you a Christian.
  • You couldn’t ask for a better role model in your dad. I know I’m biased here, but I just don’t think there’s a better man for you to want to grow up to emulate. He is strong and supportive, kind and generous, loving and fun. He doesn’t take himself too seriously but knows how to be serious when it counts. He loves his family and would do anything for the people in his life. He is responsible, smart and hardworking, and also knows when to take a break to appreciate the good things in life. He has maintained strong friendships because he knows how to be a good friend to others. He is not afraid to show his excitement or enthusiasm, and people adore him for it (I have yet to meet the person who is not taken by your father. He’s just that likable). He is a gentleman who demonstrates every day that real men are comfortable talking about how they feel and expressing their emotions. He will always have your back and be by your side.

As for me, well, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about your mama, but I hope it won’t take you long to learn that I will always love you fiercely. I will everything in my power to keep you safe without being overly protective and to teach you how to be a good, strong and independent person.

I can’t promise to love sports, but I know I’ll love watching you play them.

I adore animals and will show you how much joy they bring their owners. I also will instill in you an understanding that it is our responsibility to care for those who entrust us with their loyalty.

I love the beach, the sun and the water. I love the smells of freshly cut grass, wet screens and water on the wind...frankly all of the sounds and smells of summer. I love ice cream and popcorn and the way a tennis ball feels when it flies off a racquet. I love to read and to write.

I hope to share all of these loves with you, but even if you don’t feel the same about them, I will support you in your passions. The person you are and who you will become is just perfect to me.

Your mom