It’s been a little over seven months that Henry has been in our lives and I continue to be amazed not only with every little thing he does, but how bringing him into our lives has changed us in the most profound ways. To say I was jaded and skeptical about just how dramatically a baby can shift your perspective on life is an understatement. I figured that I’d change, of course, but not that I’d end up one of these people who was all “ I wasn’t really living fully until I became a mom”. That phrase would send me into a fit of exaggerated eye rolls two years ago. How cliché.
But guess what? I wasn’t really living fully until I became a mom. Yup, it happened. Now I’m rolling my eyes at myself.
Now, this in no way means you need to have a child in order to live fully. Not at all. It’s just that for me, it took having Henry to get my head out of my ass and be able to live in the moment and appreciate the amazing blessings I have- a loving family, good health, a beautiful home, a caring nanny for Henry, a job I love and a fully stocked wine rack (because wine is the fuel on which mommy runs. Also, coffee). I never really realized just how focused I was on the wrong things and how stressed I’d get about total bullshit until I had something BIG jostle me awake to the fact. For some people it’s another kind of catalyst that does it, for me it was Henry. Of course in the early days of motherhood I feared that I had ruined my perfectly curated life with this screaming, needy, terrifyingly vulnerable baby. But in the last two months Henry has developed into a magical little person whose smile and giggle could potentially save the world (in my eyes, at least). No longer a sleepy lump, he’s giving back, sitting up, discovering the world and developing new skills every second! He’s made me recognize what is truly important by giving me a powerful frame of reference. Is my son happy and healthy? Yes. Ok, great- so am I going to get all upset about a light fixture being backordered AGAIN for another ten weeks? Nope, not that important (although still epically annoying). I have so much more patience and empathy than I did before, which is truly a game changer when it comes to my daily happiness. The little things like watching tv in bed with Andrew at the end of the day or taking a walk as a family fill me with gratitude, where as before I may have just gone about these kinds of things in a stress fog.
Now, I’m not skipping down the street like a moron being all “isn’t the world just AMAZING? Tra-la-la” Hardly. In fact for every ounce of gratitude and joy this child has brought me, there is a pound of cold, hard fear. Especially after a week like last week. I have struggled all my life with anxiety- WebMD being my drug of choice. And when I hit it hard, I spiral into a dark, endless ditch of worry. It’s how my anxiety manifests itself for some reason. And while now I don’t worry about my own health anymore at all, I do worry about Henry’s. A lot. ( In fact I was up with him last night from 10:30-1:30 as he cried from an earache/fever/teething and I wanted to go right to the ER!) I have to work hard not to allow my own anxiety issues to be transferred onto him. My patient pediatrician, mother and friends who are experienced in the ways of epic spit up/ rashes/ baby drama have kept me on the straight and narrow for the most part. But when I look at him and think about something happening to him or an illness befalling him I get the feeling that seven elephants are sitting on my chest.
And that’s not all. Now we have a scary world to contend with too- one with violence and terrorism, hate and bullying, unrest and uncertainty. And now even alligators. And that scares me more than ever for him and what his future holds. I was talking to my therapist the other day about how I feel like a walking exposed nerve when it comes to Henry and how I vacillate between complete joy and sheer terror when I think about him in this big world. And she said something rather profound to me- she has three sons and has decided the only way to get through the day as a mother of young children during times of violence and darkness is to think of our children not as potential victims, but future heroes. To look at it like “I am raising a wonderful man who will go out and do good things in this world. Someone who will offset some of the evil being put out there”. And that made me feel a little better. I’m going to work hard to make Henry a source of light, change and strength in this world as best I can.
I’m finding motherhood to be one of the biggest emotional roller coasters there is. I can’t wait to get home and see him at the end of the day, but there are also nights I count the seconds until bedtime. I’ve gone from not understanding why anyone would have a second child to texting Andrew that I want another one (whaaaaaaaat?). I miss my freedom, but I also love my new responsibility as Henry’s mom. I wanted to alert the media the other day when he got his first tooth, but I also wish he’d stop growing up so fast. I miss the nights he’d fall asleep on my chest for hours, but I cannot wait to hear what his voice sounds like and what he thinks. I’m physically exhausted from working and parenting but feel more fulfilled than ever. Some days I am a pathetic hot mess that gets nothing accomplished, and others I feel like Super Mom, kicking ass and taking names on all fronts. And I’m understanding that is just the norm for parents everywhere- we do what we can, try to enjoy the ride and take everything one day at a time.
This journey has just begun for us, and more than ever, I am grateful to be on it.
A bunch of you have asked me on Instagram what Henry’s favorite toys are right now, so here’s a little roundup!