A couple of weeks before Will was born I read an article in The Huffington Post called The Moment I Tell New Moms to Hang On For. It was written by my blogger friend Allison Slater Tate recalling the first six weeks of her first baby's life. She writes about all the change, and about the mixture of terror, exhaustion, excitement and confusion that the first weeks with a newborn bring. But, she tells new moms, wait for it. Because sometime in those first few bleary weeks your baby will smile at you for the very first time and it will cut through all the hard and the struggle and that will be the moment where you know that you are in love with this tiny creature.
I thought about that article a lot over the first six weeks of my baby's life. While I learned how to be a mother. While I wondered what it feels like when you really love your baby and whether maybe I was feeling it already and I didn't even realize it because it was all mixed in with exhaustion, diapers, bottles, baths, bedtime routines and tears, more mine than his.
But then it happened, just like Allison said it would. We were doing our regular 9am diaper change/getting dressed routine and he was wide awake. As I snapped up his clothes I noticed that he was looking at me. Not above me or somewhere beside or behind me, but right at me. So I looked back and there it was. His first real smile.
And in that moment, my world righted itself.
I have lived lifetimes in these past seven weeks. I still feel sometimes like I barely know anything at all, but what I do know for sure is this: being a mother is tough stuff. I am a different person than I was just a few weeks ago. Equal parts stronger and more fragile. Both more patient and less. More anxious. More tired. But what I also know now is that there is joy running underneath all of this complexity that seeps up and fills my cracks just exactly when I need it. Like when my baby smiles at me on an otherwise utterly ordinary morning.
Because that's not ordinary at all. That's magic.