There are some days as a mom and wife when I feel like all I’ve done is give. Each step of life prepares you for the next. Going from being single to married requires death to self. Decisions are not made for yourself anymore, but for the betterment of the two. Then, with a new baby, a whole new level of giving of yourself is required. Becoming a mother takes incredible self-sacrifice. Almost all of my time was devoted to my daughter, while trying to include my husband into this new bond between baby and mother. For me, sacrificing for my daughter was more natural than it was for my husband, maybe because she was so helpless? When I was nursing as her sole means of nourishment, I was feeding her every two hours around the clock. I would fall into bed exhausted, only to wake up a few hours later to feed her. Blessedly, that period of time was short, but there is a lifetime more to give of myself.
I love watching my daughter experience new things, and providing new experiences for her to try. This summer as our crunchy grass needed water, I stuck her feet and hands in front of the sprinkler. She discovered the tickly pressure of the water between her fingers and toes. The first time she met grass and sand, she didn’t want to put her hands down, the feel foreign and strange beneath her fingertips. And then everything started going into her mouth. Rocks, leaves, random particles left on the floor, and even her toes. It used to drive me crazy, having to constantly supervise what she was picking up because it inevitably would end up in her mouth. But she was exploring her world, discovering the tastes, feels, and smells all for the first time. It is how babies learn, and yeah, boosts their immune system all at once.
Three years ago, I promised to share my life with you
no matter the circumstances
through joy and pain.
We had no idea the magnitude of our vows
until they were tested.
I had no constructive methods of communication
until you taught me to talk.
Independence was difficult to unlearn
until I needed you.
We had no need to grow
until we said, “I do.”
I used to be brave. I used to snowboard and hike mountain peaks and enjoy rollercoasters. And then I became a mother. The most exhilarating activities I enjoyed seem freaking insane to me right now. This week, my husband and I went on a trip to the NC mountains with our 16 month old. We visited Grandfather Mountain, and up at the top is a swinging bridge one mile up. We went across that no problem, not without some butterflies in my stomach, but doable. But looking at the people who all congregated at the tippy top of that rock, I had zero interest. Maybe if I wasn’t four months pregnant, or a mom, or a wife, I would have climbed up there. So, maybe it isn’t that I’m not brave anymore. Maybe it’s that I feel the weight of responsibility of me staying alive that causes me not to take risks. Funny enough, I don’t miss those things, at least right now. My life is still full of wonder and joy because I’m pregnant, a mom, and a wife.
Before I had my baby girl, I came up with a list of books I loved as a kid. Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and Miss Rumphius were my favorites, and were the first books I bought for our impending bundle. Once Noelle was born, I would read books I wanted to read for myself out loud so she could hear my voice and expose her to vocabulary outside of my own meandering conversations with her and those she heard between my husband and me. The first book I read to her was A Little Princess, also one of my favorites. Then, the 8th Harry Potter book was released, so I read her The Cursed Child. That was a bit awkward to read a play out loud, but I figured I was reading to a two month old, so it didn’t matter. To my delight, Noelle now loves to read. Goodnight Moon is now one of her favorites, too. We know she wants to read it when she says, “fireplace,” or “clock,” which are two of her favorite objects to point out in the pictures of the room. This afternoon, she fell asleep in the car on the way home. When we pulled into the driveway, I opened her door and started unbuckling her carseat straps. Once she blinked away the sleep from her eyes, she wouldn’t stop repeating, “fireplace” until we got to her room and I handed her Goodnight Moon. I hope her love of reading never fades.
A few days ago, I bought my daughter her first pair of walking shoes. They’re a silver Mary-Jane style with a velcro strap across the foot and a really soft, flexible, and grippy sole. She isn’t walking yet, but she is standing on her own and standing up looking like she’s about to take a step, before she folds back down onto her knees. I’m torn between wanting her to walk so that I don’t have to carry her around the places we go, and not yet wanting her to figure it out. I know that once she starts walking, she’s going to run, and with that, her infancy will be long gone. She will remain my baby girl, even as she grows up and hits new milestones bigger and better than the ones before. In March, Baby Girl #2 is due, and we get to experience the joy of bringing home a new baby all over again. It is my prayer that I remain present in each moment of motherhood.
“Do or do not. There is no try.” -Yoda
I didn’t get to the laundry today. I’ll try to get to it tomorrow.
I didn’t make cookies today. I’ll try to make them tomorrow.
I forgot to get butter. I’ll try to remember that next time I’m shopping.
How many times in a day to I use the word Try, rather than just doing whatever it is? It gets exhausting and deflating when I realize all the things I wanted to “try” to get done that day, and nothing feels accomplished. Except that my little girl is happy, had some outdoor time, fed, and well rested. Sometimes, as a momma, that seems to be all I can do is to take care of my girl. That, I just do. Why is doing the same for my husband so much harder? We need to try to make time for each other. Correction, we must make time for each other.