Sunday, August 30, 2015

Dear Will - Two Months Old


Dear Will,

What a difference a month makes, right?

Just four week ago when I wrote to you, I was staring at my computer screen through the tears of a new mother. The ones born of fear, worry, exhaustion, and the constant feeling that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Because I really didn't. You had just barreled into my life, and I found myself a little stunned by the speed at which everything changed. One second my life was one thing, and the next it was something else and I thought that maybe I was an entirely different person. I certainly didn't feel like the person I was on the day before you were born. And maybe that's the way it's supposed to be. I think it probably is. Because on the day you were born, I was born too, as a mother.

I think you spent an entire month with the top of your head wet with my tears. I'm really sorry about that. But a couple of weeks ago, something changed. I felt the undeniable shift deep within me. From fear to enjoyment. From anxiety to something resembling calm.

I think we're getting used to each other, you and I.

It started, I think, when you smiled for the first time a couple of weeks ago. You were laying on your changing table and I was talking to you and you looked at me and all of sudden your mouth curved up in a real and true smile. You are, I hope, going to smile millions of times during your life, but the first one was the most special of them all. And it unlocked something inside of me. Something that made me feel, maybe for the first time, that I'm doing this mothering thing right. That we are doing just fine.

Last week we took you to the Jersey Shore to Aunt Sara and Uncle James' beach house. On our first day there we took you to the beach in your stroller and the blue hat that I couldn't resist buying, and I dipped your feet in the ocean and in the sand. And the next morning while everyone was sleeping I took you back to the beach and we watched the sun rise over the water and it felt like we were the only two people in the world, you and me, in that moment when night became day.

And you won't remember that morning, but I will, and one day I'll tell you. I'll tell you about how you woke up at 5am and didn't want to go back to sleep after you ate. I'll tell you about how I wished that you would because I wanted to go back to sleep too. I'll tell you about how I laid you in your stroller and how we walked the one block to the beach under a sky that was just starting the lighten. I'll tell you about how I walk up the pathway leading to the beach and lifted you out of your stroller so we could watch the sun come up together. And I'll tell you about how glad I was that you didn't fall back to sleep after your bottle because I got to have that moment with you, in one of my favorite places, at the most magical time of day.

There is so much magic in the world, my sweet Will. And if I can teach you to embrace that magic, to find the things and the moments that give you joy, to return to them over and over again, I think I will have done my job right.

With love as big as the sky,


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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

First Smiles

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.