From the moment Michael was born I loved him with all my heart and knew he was mine, but it was a while until I started to feel like a real mom. I had enjoyed all of the wonderful, beautiful parts of motherhood - giving birth, feeding my baby, seeing his smile, holding him and breathing his sweet smell, talking with him and singing to him - but I knew there was another side to this motherhood thing.
Then, when he was six weeks old he had a medical procedure - nothing serious but it was painful and scary. I had to swallow my own tears and hold him as he went through the pain and then do my best to comfort him. In the car on the way home I cried and thought, "I'm a real mom now." A few weeks later I woke up in the middle of the night with a stomach bug. Between trips to the bathroom I would nurse my eight week old and try to rest. I was laying on the bathroom floor when I realized that the day would start as usual in just a few hours - nurse, change, play, nurse, nap, repeat - regardless of how I felt. Again I thought, "This is real motherhood." In a weird way I felt proud. I was joining the ranks of all the mothers who had gone before me.
I had another one of those experiences this weekend (the circumstances were a lot more pleasant, though!) For the first time we left Michael with someone who was not my Mom or my sister and went on a date. I'm blessed to be able to stay home with him full-time, and leaving him in someone else's care has been surprisingly hard for me. As I was getting ready for our date I had a flashback to one of the families I would babysit for as a teenager. Just before the parents would leave, the mom would come out of her room looking and smelling pretty. Her three kids would gather around her to say goodnight. She smiled brightly giving hugs and last minute instructions, and when she got to the baby she would kiss the back of his hand and her lipstick would leave a kiss for him to look at. I've never forgotten the way that baby would smile proudly and look at his mama's kiss on his hand. He was so young, and I was so young, and she was leaving her kids with me!? How must she have felt about that? And how did I become the mom who is leaving her baby with a babysitter?! "I'm becoming a real mom now."
I packed his favorite books and snacks into a bag, kissed him and smiled as I left him with our (wonderful, capable, awesome) friends. I cried a little in the car. Just for a minute. Then my husband put his hand on my arm and told me it would be okay. Through my tears I saw his smile and I knew he was right. And we had an amazing time together!
I know there will be so many more of these challenges along the way.
But I'm taking them one day at a time.
Michael takes his baby steps and I take mine :)
My handsome date :)
We even had time for coffee and dessert!
And Michael did great!
He played the whole time and didn't cry at all (until we walked in the door).
Then he passed out cold on the way home :)