My baby is almost 6 months. That’s almost 183 days, if we are being exact. He has made his first half-trip around the sun. It happened in a blink of an eye. Less than that, maybe.
The holidays always bring about a lot of nostalgia for me, and now that I have an infant, it makes it a lot worse. Like I’ll look at his newborn photos and want to cry at how fast he is growing kind of worse (maybe I let a few tears go, but don’t tell anybody).
If that wasn’t enough, his first tooth is slicing through his perfect pink little gumline and it almost sends me over the edge. I want to shake him and yell STOP GROWING UP SO FAST! But I don’t, obviously, because that would be inviting a visit from Child Protective Services. The only visit I am trying to earn is from the fat man with the white beard. I’ve been good as shit this year, so bring the good stuff.
Where was I? Oh right, the sappy emotion-inducing nostalgia. As his half-birthday grows nearer, I can’t help but reflect on the last six months and everything I’ve learned, everything I’ve accomplished, and every way in which I’ve grown. Motherhood has a funny way of forcing you to grow up and out of your adolescence and adopt those adult ways that many of us fear but never admit to fearing. I not only birthed a son, but also immense responsibility. His little life—well-being, growth, and happiness—rests entirely on my shoulders. Okay well my husband’s, too, but I’m trying to make a point here.
I used to constantly look at the past and be depressed that those good times were over. No more excessive partying, no more meeting friends easily. No more freedom to come and go as I pleased, my whole future lying ahead of me. When I graduated college and started working, I felt like the best times were behind me. I couldn’t seem to shake the sadness and anxiety that accompanied my daily life. The present was so hazy, and forget the future—it was like trying to see through storm clouds. My emotions felt like a storm cloud—unpredictable and always threatening to give way to a downpour.
Then my angel arrived in the form of a teeny, tiny, tomato-red baby. What is it that they say about the best things coming in small packages? All of that. My sweet-smelling, adorable, poop and pee filled, little angel has changed the way that I look at life. He has also taught me so much.
He has taught me the power of a woman. I have never before been so awed at the power of a body to create, carry, birth, and feed another human being. Have you ever really stopped to think about it? That’s some powerful shit. Because my son showed me my own power, I also look at myself a lot differently. I used to hate my body. Every. Damn. Day. But today? I don’t mind that roll when I bend over. I don’t care what the other people think of me in a swimsuit at Splish Splash Baby Class. Am I still trying to get some weight down? Sure, what postpartum mom isn’t? But I’m not in a hurry, I know that extra fat is helping me to breastfeed my boy. I might actually be transferring rolls directly to him, if that is even possible. At least on his thick thighs they look a lot more socially acceptable.
He has taught me the power of love and marriage. If you ever want to truly test your marriage and its foundation, have a baby. No, really. It takes a solid couple to make it through newborn days and infant months (and from what I also assume toddler, teenage, and adolescent years). Although our relationship looks drastically different than it did before, my husband and I feel a bond that we never have before. We might bicker more, make love less, and look at each other differently, but the new way we look at each other is with adoration and awe at the beautiful parent each has become. It’s hard to watch my husband and son and not get teary, and I’m pretty sure he feels the same, although he would deny that. Damn I sound like a sobbing mess—I promise I’m not…most days.
He has taught me how to believe in myself. There is no way to ever prepare for a baby. Period. Sure I read books, blogs, and heard the horror stories, but it turns out I knew nothing. Throw the book away and take a lesson from real life. Baby will do what babies do, and most days I am scrambling to keep up. Just when I think I have something figured out, it changes again. But I never used to believe in myself the way I do now. I’m thoroughly empowered. I know I can do this because, partly because I have to. So I do it, day after day, and excel—most days.
He has taught me love. Forgiving, patient, and whole-hearted love. There’s no point in getting upset with an infant. They don’t understand you. They can’t reason their behavior away. All I know is that if I am upset, it makes him more upset. We both escalate out of control. I figured this out early and put a stop to it. If I respond with love each and every time, it helps. It might not help this little banshee deceptively slumbering against my chest every single time he is upset, but I know he is reassured that I am there for him, I love him, and will always take care of him.
The bottom line is that I still have no idea what I’m doing. But what I do know is that I’m not the person I used to be, and for the first time, I am completely okay with that. I feel that I am better because of him. I know that I am better because of him. I have to be better for him. He needs me, and I need him just as much. In only six months, in the blink of an eye, in half of the planet’s rotation, I have learned more about myself from him than I have in the past two decades, and I couldn’t feel more blessed. Sometimes ready to lose my f—cking mind, mind you, but also blessed.