To My First Born, On Mother’s Day

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For the past two years, I’ve gone through the motions of new motherhood with what I wish was grace, but unfortunately wasn’t always the case.

I often forgot what day it was, barely surviving your teething, sick, fussy days. Counted down the minutes until bedtime, until that well-deserved glass of Cabernet.

I have a secret: Until you slept through the night, I was afraid of nighttime. How long and lonely it was.  Only me, the crickets, and the parkway. From my bedroom I listened to car engines, less than a mile away, imagining their twilight destinations. 

I was a bad friend, more often than I’d like to admit, and assumed my childless friends understood why, even when they probably didn’t. Ran on one hour of sleep and caffeine, with no choice but to teach three hour English lectures delirious.

I drank my coffee lukewarm (every – single – day), broke down and cried for no reason other than exhaustion and hormones. Some days, I didn’t brush my teeth until nap time and dry shampoo replaced showers. I breastfed for two whole years even when it got hard, inconvenient, and even when it hurt.

For two years, I prioritized you over my writing, my relationships, my life, myself.

And still. I don’t regret a thing. It hasn’t been fifteen years… it’s been two.

Before I know it, you’ll refuse to hold my hand in front of your new, cool friends. You’ll ask me to drop you off at the corner so they won’t see me pull up. You’ll answer our questions at the dinner table with a yes, a no. Mmhm. I’ll yearn for the days when you needed me all the time, when I was the only one who could comfort you with a hug.

I’m not a baby, Mom, you’ll start to say.

I’ll watch you grow into your own, hungry for life, craving independence.

I’ll watch you with pride, my heart shattering at the same time.

Yes, I made you the focal point of my life. But isn’t that what motherhood is? We make our children the center of our universe until they ask us for space. That’s the hard part – when we don’t have a choice but to let them go. All we can do is watch from the sidelines, praying they make the right choices, praying we taught them well. We start to remind ourselves of our own mothers. Remember our teenage selves – how much we needed that trust, that freedom.

We’ll give it to them, knowing how it feels.

But until then, I’ll continue to prioritize you. I won’t feel guilty about putting everything else on pause for you, temporarily. I’ll be here because you need me. Because right now, I’m your whole world. I know that.

I’ll embrace it all—frustrations included—because it’s not forever.

I know that, now.

This isn’t my first Mother’s Day – I was pregnant two years ago, and last May you hadn’t taken your first steps yet– but this year, it feels earned, somehow. We’ve been through a lot in two short years. I learned that I am tougher than I give myself credit for. I birthed you naturally, still breastfeed you, and take care of you on my own, most days.

I understand what being a mother means because of you and only you: It’s putting a little someone on that pedestal, realizing you’d do anything, die in a heartbeat, to protect him.

A mother doesn’t become a mother overnight – she evolves, adapts, shedding skin after skin. The day those two pink lines appeared, so literally, matter-of-factly, before my eyes, I met the woman I’d soon become.

You made me me, and I thank you for it.

You will always be my greatest blessing, my first one, because you made me a mother.