When I got married, I received a lot of advice about living my life pre-babies. Relish your sleep; enjoy date nights; travel; appreciate adult time; value your alone time. Doesn't it always happen that advice never really clicks until after the fact?
While I did appreciate my life and time before having my daughter, I didn't really fully understand the beauty of going out to dinner, getting my nails done, showering, working out, or running to the store until my time and situation was limited.
Everything has changed:
Now that I have my darling baby girl, everything has changed. I haven't painted my nails in over a year. I often take record-breaking military showers with a screaming baby trying to claw her way into the tub with me. A quick trip to the store turns into a huge endeavor that usually doesn't seem worth it once we're both actually ready to leave the house. My daughter likes to be held during "naps" and not be put down. I say "naps" because I quickly realized her sleeping habits were very strange -- she's always taken several 10-20 minute cat naps, leaving people surprised, baffled, and sympathetic that I do not get a break. Or she crashes and rests on me for two hours, leaving people with the same perplexed or judgmental looks. My body has not been my own for quite some time, from pregnancy to nursing; my body is at my daughter's disposal (much to the dismay of my critics: "You're still nursing her?"). This is my life now. Everything has changed.
A welcomed change:
But I wanted my life to change; I didn't have a baby to make my life easier. I always knew I wanted to be a mom, but the closer I came to being an adult, the more I realized that was an extremely scary venture to take on. Did I really want to put my body through that? Would my sister still be my surrogate if I refused to go through with pregnancy like we always joked about? Was I ready to change my life? It's true what they say, you cannot wait for the perfect time. I truly believe my little Ginny was watching me up from heaven and knew it was my time to be a mom. Actually, not "a" mom, her mom. I was made to be her momma.
Delights and terrors:
Now that she is almost 1-year-old, so much has changed in the past year, and these changes both delight and terrify me. I'm delighted to watch my little peanut walk all around anywhere she goes like she owns the place. I'm delighted in her strength and confidence to do so. I'm delighted she can not only understand me when I ask for a kiss but that she gives them to me -- sometimes sweet little smooches and sometimes full on passionate open mouth, tongue out embraces. I'm delighted to watch her shiny hair and curious mind grow. I'm delighted her belly and thighs have maintained their squishiness despite all the exercise she gets from walking and dancing all day.
But I'm also terrified. I'm terrified that since she's mobile, I can't protect her from everything like I could when she was warm in my belly or swaddled stationary in my arms. I'm terrified of the day someone will test and try her confidence and hope I raised her with the strength to endure. I'm terrified that when the day comes when she won't kiss me on the lips anymore that I won't be prepared for it. I'm terrified for when her curious mind learns about the alarming degree of darkness and unkindness that exists in the world and can't bear to think of her fractured innocence. I'm terrified to think of her perfect, marshmallow-infused body thinning out as she inevitably grows up.
I think about the advice I still receive or the well-intentioned comments about how I need to put my daughter down and am glad I have stuck to what is right for Ginny and me. Yes, I could put her down and paint my nails, but I rather play puzzles with her, even though that means inevitably losing her favorite bunny piece and stressing out every night looking for it (because I can't go to sleep unless all the puzzles pieces are in place). I could think back and miss the guilt-free 20 minute candlelit showers where I took my time lathering creamy gel to shave my legs, applied a deep conditioning mask, and soaked my feet in lavender Epsom salts to really unwind. And as overwhelming as my new life can get, I have to say I wouldn't trade the baby screaming "momma, momma, momma" over and over because while it breaks my heart (and possibly annoys me) to hear my name whined incessantly, there will come a time where my daughter doesn't need or want me like she does now. While I could lay Ginny down and force her into a nap schedule and have some downtime for once, I could never complain to hold her doughy warm body so close to mine.
I will miss this:
There will come a time where I have time and sleep to myself. I will miss those 4:00 a.m. cuddle sessions, watching my daughter's eyes flicker behind dreams. I will miss the fluttering sleep smiles, filled with beauty, mystery, and purity. I will miss those pudgy, dimpled hands caressing my chest or holding my finger. Someday as I listen to only the quiet hums of my sound machine, I will miss the enchanting soft sighs, sounds, and sweet baby snores of my past, and I will ache to hear and feel them exactly as they once were -- not my diluted memory's version. There will come a day where my Ginny will choose to go out with friends over hanging with mom, and I will miss the napless days filled with playing, reading, and cuddling. There will come a day when she goes to college, and I will miss the simple worries I had about bumped knees and teething pain.
There will come a time when I'm old and frail, and I hope my Ginny will hold me, cuddle me, read and sing to me as I do to her. I hope to hear her say "momma, momma" over and over because she needs me completely, like when she was a baby. I hope she'll look at my wrinkled, worn in body with the same awe and love as she has as a baby because I'm still the most beautiful woman in the world to her. I hope she will let me call her my sweet baby angel, jelly bean, or my little paczki (poonch-key) and that our souls can connect as they once did.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is, I understand the advice, but I'm doing exactly what I'm meant to be doing.