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I have been reflecting a lot the last few days on when my son was a baby.  His turning 5 seems like such a milestone for some reason.  No longer a baby, not yet a “big kid”. He’ll be starting kindergarten this coming fall and maybe that’s why it seems so big.  He’s still sweet but becoming more independent each day.  He wants to do more for himself and prove to me (and himself) that he can do things without anyone’s help.

I find myself missing him as a baby.   He was always smiling, giggling and didn’t sleep.  Wait, what?  Yes, all of that is true.   He did not sleep through the night till he was 18 months old.  As I post baby pictures on FB and talk about my sweet baby turning 5 and missing my baby, a friend kindly reminded me “that’s when he wasn’t sleeping, remember”.  Yes, I remember, but not really.   My mom made comments years later like “ I thought we’d never get you back!” and my husband refers to that time as the time he “walked on eggshells”.  I was tired, not the kind of tired where you just need to go to bed early.  I was the kind of tired that changed my personality.  I would sleep with my fists clenched in fear of waking up suddenly and I was miserable.  I wasn’t miserable being a mommy.  I loved that part.  However, that was not always the case.  I loathed being a mother for part of my sons early life.

When he was first born we had all the usual struggles.  Breastfeeding was difficult, navigating a new schedule or even trying to come up with one, was difficult and the lack of sleep.  Breastfeeding we resolved, his schedule evolved naturally and sleep still did not come. I did ok for the first month or so.  It was all so new and exciting that I thrived on that.  But 4 months, 5 months, 6 months…no sleep.  Up and down every 2-3 hours every night.  No naps longer than an hour.  I could go on and on.  I grew more and more resentful of everything. My husband, my son, my LIFE.   I was not happy.  I was bleary eyed and exhausted.   I was MISERABLE tired and miserable being a mother.  Facing another day of just going through the motions seemed too much.  And, yet, that sweet,beautiful baby (when I would go get him from his crib each morning) always greeted me with a smile and exuberance that everyone should have the privilege of feeling at least once in a lifetime.

On this particular morning there he was again, smiling and cooing and so excited I was coming to get him. He couldn’t wait to start his day with me and all I could feel was myself sinking.  Sinking deep down, a dark place that I hope to never visit again. That’s when I heard voice. Call it what you want: divine intervention, the voice of reason, the voices in my head.  Where ever it came from I remember it like it was yesterday and don’t think I’ll ever forget.  It clearly said:  “The only thing you can change about this situation, right now, is the way you approach it”. By the time I reached his crib I was smiling and baby talking right back to him.  While still very tired, my loathing slowly turned to less loathing.  Each day my heart grew bigger (like that scene in the Grinch).  And, some where between still not sleeping and learning to love, I became a mother.  I was no longer a shell going through the motions but a true mother.  Love started to fill my heart and the loathing soon disappeared.  It breaks my heart to think that he may have felt any part of my dark days.  It wasn’t his fault he couldn’t sleep.  It was his personality even in the womb.  He would dance around the moment I would get still.

Those days are long behind me.  And, I very rarely think of the lack of sleep.  If I hear a mom saying she’s not sleeping I can offer advice on how my husband and I finally changed that.  But aside from that, I don’t think about to often.  My friend was right.  All I remember is pure JOY.  I have to dig deep to remember the bad parts and I like it that way.  Just like the time I told my mom and husband I was “such a pleasant pregnant woman”.  Apparently that is not entirely true either.  It’s all how you remember it.  And, I hope when my son is grown he will remember all the happiness and joy too.

  • Khrissy Mar 9, 2015 Reply

    He will remember the joy! He lives every day in joy:) This is the age of beautiful forget-me-nots, and they are growing and internalizing every bit of love that you water them with. I know because he shares this love with his class. They feel the love even when it’s time to grow up a little and rise to your expectations and standards of caring that you set for him;)

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