and then, one day, you could.
As a first time mommy for the last six months, I’ve experienced so many firsts. First night I went without sleep, first time you slept through the night, first bottle, first Christmas. So many firsts. I’ve become used to awaiting the next first.
For a while, it seemed like all the “big boy” things like holding your head up on your own, grabbing toys, enjoying tummy time, and trying puree were too-many-nights-of-interrupted-sleep away to think about them just yet. Maybe subconsciously I even hoped, not that you wouldn’t reach those milestones, but that I’d be ready for them by the time they occurred anyway.
And the truth is, I’m not. But I’m learning to be.
Over the last couple of weeks, it seems you’ve been rushing towards becoming six months old. I carry you around and you hold your head up confidently. It no longer drops onto my shoulder, ending in a “I just can’t do it yet” hug. I almost got used to the fact that you’d ultimately need my shoulder to rest your head upon when your neck muscles gave out. I got used to cradling your head in my hand, supporting your neck with each stroll around the house. You just weren’t able to control it yourself.
And then, one day, you could.
I’m positive it didn’t all happen in one day, but it sure seems that way. As a mommy working full-time and spending any free moment I can in your company, I feel like I’m stuck playing this never-ending video game of battling workloads, laundry loads, bills, and learning how to be a good mommy. I wish I could trade in the adulthood part and just be your mom for a while.
But it doesn’t work that way, Bud.
Every night I go to bed with a knot in my stomach and the thought that today is the biggest you’ve ever been and the smallest you’ll ever be again.
Sometimes I think I’m good at taking in every moment. We get into such a routine that it seems nothing is changing. You drink a bottle, you go into your bouncy chair, you take a nap at this time. But whether I like to admit it or not, you’re growing, Bud. You need a toy or distraction of some sort in the car now. You don’t cry when I dry you off after your bath anymore. When you were first born, you weren’t allowed to have baths more than every 2-3 days. I wanted you to be able to have a bath every night so we could make it part of our routine.
And then, one day, you could. So we did.
Now you eat your towel, too, because you’re beginning to teeth and you put anything and everything in your mouth. You laugh at me and I laugh at you. We imitate each other’s noises. There was a time, Bud, when you couldn’t yet laugh, smiles were only unintended reflexes and the only noise you made was a hearty cry of hope that I’d figure out what was wrong with you.
And, over time, I did.
You have no idea the joy you bring me each and every day.
There are times when I find myself caught up in anxious thoughts of to-do lists, and I glance at you to make sure you’re okay, you’re breathing, you’re not choking, etc. and you smile. I don’t think I’ve ever even smiled at myself the way you smile at me. It’s one thing to learn what unconditional love is as a parent. But I’ve never felt loved more than I do when you look at– and smile at– me.
Dad prances you around the living room, I walk in, and you recognize my face from across the room. You break into the biggest smile. You make my heart melt each time.
Today I sipped some ice water in between giving you your bottle and, for the first time, you actually noticed it. You saw the glass, you listened to its ice, you watched it reach my lips and then be lowered back to the sofa table. You were interested in it. You smiled. You never cared before that I’ve had a glass of water with just about every bottle up until now.
But then, today, you did.
Sometimes I’ll be making a bottle and I’ll look at you and notice that you’re putting your hands together for the first time, or you’re rolling to your side on your own. I’ll scrub the nipple and wonder to myself, “Is he… I thought he couldn’t do that yet?” And you couldn’t. Not yesterday or that last time we tried.
But then, today, you could.
Sometimes my heart skips a beat when I think about the future and all the things that give me anxiety. The first time you get sick, for instance. The first time you fall. The first time you have your little heart broken for whatever reason.
Other times I think about the can’t-waits. I can’t wait until you’re old enough to truly enjoy the magic that is Christmas. I can’t wait until we can go to a movie together. I can’t wait until you can appreciate festivals and amusements. I can’t wait to introduce you to Mickey Mouse.
But, in reality, I can wait. I’d prefer to, in fact. If it were up to me, I would keep you here, this age, for always. Six months old and completely reliant on me and Dad. You give the best hugs. You don’t know my faults and even if you did, they wouldn’t phase you. You adore me. You wake up so happily, so calmly, just waiting for us to come greet you. You haven’t suffered through even the slightest cold or ear infection yet. You are happy just to be carried around, just to go for a drive in the car, just to walk around the mall in your stroller.
I must make it tough on the big guy upstairs every time I pray simultaneously for both the ability to keep you now how you are forever, as well as the opportunity to get to see you grow and live a happy, healthy, fulfilling life.
I’ll never want to reach a time where the exciting, anxious, sometimes overwhelming days we experience together now are just distant, happy memories.
I’ll never be quite okay with “giving you away” to anyone, really, so give her (or him?) a head’s up when things between the two of you get serious.
Honestly, I’ll never want to kiss these days goodbye, Bud.
But then, someday, I will.