A month ago, I became a mom. Four weeks and two days filled with baby grunts and wails, middle-of-the-night diaper changes, laundry loads of pee-soaked onesies, meals half-eaten and interrupted by squeaky cries, and countless snuggle sessions. The time has passed in a blur. And we’re just getting started.
Sometimes, the tiny nerd is taking a nap in his room, and I get lost in the midst of a book or a movie. Then I’ll hear a cry from the other side of the door, and it hits me: That is my little person in that room, and I have to take care of him!
I’d like to blame hormones for another common scene, but I don’t think they’re entirely at fault. When the tiny nerd is sleeping on my chest, I look down at his squishy cheeks and his quivering mouth, and my eyes tear up. The Hubbs and I made this! We get to raise this little beast forever! We get to go on this crazy adventure together! It is overwhelming.
Yesterday was my grandmother Velma’s 80th birthday. She is Mom to seven children, Mammaw to 18 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. The roots of her family tree are deep, and the branches stretch wide. The photo below is her with a handful of those grandkids (me included).
When the Hubbs saw it, he said, “Just think, in 30 years, you could be surrounded by a bunch of grandkids like that!”
Celebrating her birthday is bittersweet. My grandmother lives in a nursing home in southern Ohio, where she is a skeleton of a woman, more infantile than senile. She doesn’t speak, and she eats pureed food that is spoon-fed by nurses or visitors.
I hate that my son will never hear her talk about trips to Alaska, cross-country RV journeys to visit family, or stories about her life growing up in southern Ohio. He’ll never arrive at her house to be smothered in hugs and kisses, then stuffed full of homemade noodles or pots full of garden-fresh corn or dried apples. I hate that my husband only knows her as a forgetful, then frail, then silent figure.
But there’s joy in knowing that because of my grandmother, my son will grow up surrounded with family that loves and adores him. He’ll meet cousins, aunts, uncles and all the variations of family that we can throw at him, and they’ll smother him with snuggles and kisses and kind words.
The family has rich memories of time with their mother and grandmother, and those memories will infuse our time with each other.
You have nine months of pregnancy to prepare for being a parent. In my case, I also had a few years of infertility treatments. The idea that I might not get to raise a child, to see my husband become a father, to watch in wonder as an infant became a toddler became a person… That was the hardest part of infertility. I wanted to experience that joy firsthand.
Despite those months of pregnancy, the baby seems to arrive suddenly. You knew there was a tiny human incubating inside your belly, but now there’s a baby in your arms. You are forever the mother to a creature that needs you in a primal way. He needs your warmth, your sustenance and your protection. He needs your voice to comfort him and teach him language. He needs your hands to wrap him in dry diapers and soft clothes.
My days have become an endless stream of mundane, repetitive moments that add up to something profound and deeply personal.
I’m fussing over the baby’s socks. His feet will get cold if they fall off.
“You’re being such a mom,” the Hubbs says.