Posts Tagged ‘baby’

I thought it would be harder.

I thought when the time came to finally say goodbye I would contemplate the moment, rolling it over and over in my head until I analyzed myself out of actually doing it. I’ve done it enough times to assume that’s the way it would happen this time too.

But I was wrong; this time something was different.

They were the maternity clothes that I wore long after I had any business wearing them. The fashionable (or so I thought) capri pants that were the only thing that fit after baby but before regular clothes. The red t-shirt I wore to the hospital hours before my son was born, which I told myself looked just like a regular t-shirt so it was okay. They were my favourites; the ones I hung on to long after the others were passed along to a friend of a friend who was expecting. They were the ones I refused to let go of.

I found the bag in my closet about a year ago and dug them out to look through. I had a moment sitting on the floor of my closet and then I put the bag in the trunk of my car. I thought it was time. I had a friend at work who was having a baby and I thought she might as well get some use out of them.

That was what I told myself anyway.

But as the days turned into weeks the bag took up permanent residence in the back of my car. I couldn’t give them away, but I couldn’t justify bringing them back into the house either. The bag was in limbo, just like I was. I couldn’t face making the decision so I didn’t.

The weeks turned into months and still the bag stayed in the back of my car. I would look at it every time I opened the trunk, but I wouldn’t allow myself to think about it. However, in reality it seemed like I thought of nothing else. The bag of clothes became a physical manifestation of the choice I was so afraid to make.

In my head I knew the clothes didn’t mean anything. I could keep the clothes and never decide to have another baby; or I could give them away and get pregnant tomorrow. It wasn’t the clothes. It was me.

But for some reason as long as that bag was rolling around in my trunk I felt like anything was possible. I had not closed any doors; or opened any for that matter. As long as the bag was there, things made sense. The decision could wait for another day.

We cleaned out the garage yesterday, piling up kids boots that had long been outgrown, yoga mats that had never seen the inside of a yoga class, kitchen tools that worked much better on TV than they ever did in my kitchen.

I was headed out to run some errands so we packed my car full of all the stuff and I said I would drop it off at Goodwill while I was out. When we got there my daughter helped me unload all of our treasures into a rolling bin and she started to push it to the drop off.

I told her to wait a second.

I grabbed the bag and stood there with it in my hand and waited to feel the familiar ache, but this time it didn’t come. This time I didn’t see what was missing; I only saw what wasn’t. My daughter turned and looked back at me. She was excited. After this errand we were going to shop for new shoes, and then to a movie, just her and I.

And so before I could think about it too much I ran up and threw the bag of clothes in the bin, watching as she rolled it away.

I knew in reality it didn’t mean anything, to an outside observer nothing had actually changed.

But to me it had.

The decision I had been fighting for so long had been made, in the one place that mattered the most: in my heart.

In the same way I knew all of the other times were the wrong time, I was now just as certain that this was the right time. I knew there would still be moments of sadness, but they would no longer be tainted with doubt, with questions, with anger.

And I was thankful I had waited; that I had trusted myself enough to know there would be a time when I could let go of that bag of clothes, and all it represented. A time when I would accept that in order to write a new story, you first have to close the cover on the old one.

I don’t know what that new story will be just yet, but I know I’m ready to find out.

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Image credit: happytag.blogspot.ca

I see you there with your new baby wrapped in your arms, your eyes full of tears and your mind full of all the hopes and dreams you have for them.

As I see you wishing a hundred different wishes for them, I have a few of my own for you – the new mother.

I wish you the strength to trust your own instincts because although you may doubt that you have any, you do. You just need to quiet the hundreds of voices offering a thousand pieces of advice long enough to hear them. No one knows your baby better than you. Trust that, and trust yourself.

I wish you the vision to not lose sight of yourself and the needs you have as a person, separate from the needs of your baby. Your opinions matter, your feelings matter, your wants and needs matter. Yes your baby is important, but so are you.

I wish you a circle of mothers to surround you; women who love you enough to tell it like it is. Not to scare or depress you but so that in your darkest hour, when you sit on the floor of your baby’s room, tears streaming down your face wondering if you’ve made the biggest mistake of your life, you will not feel alone. We have all felt that way. Wrongly thinking you are the only one makes it a hundred times worse.

I wish you the knowledge that every moment, good or bad, is fleeting. This too shall pass, whether you want it to or not. Accept that the minutes and hours will seem endless but the months and years will go by in an instant. There are many moments you will wish to forget, but also so many you wish you could hold onto forever.

I wish you the ability to cut yourself some slack. You can’t do it all; some of the balls you are juggling will fall to the ground and that’s okay. Maybe you’ll pick them up, maybe you won’t. Life will go on whether you finish the baby book or not.

I wish you a group of true friends who knew you before you became a mother and stick with you after. Friends who realize it may take you a few days to answer an email and accept without question why you have to bring your breast pump to dinner. People who know visiting the baby is one thing, but coming over with a home-cooked meal and a genuine desire to fold the laundry is a thousand times better.

I wish you the understanding that happiness exists in moments, but true contentment lasts much longer. There will be moments of bliss so pure that you will literally feel your heart breaking, but they cannot and will not last. If you expect them to, you will live your life in disappointment. Strive for contentment, acceptance, and the ability to wait in peaceful anticipation of the next moment of bliss, whenever it may come.

I wish you the patience to deal with people who criticize and judge. You can’t control how much their words will hurt, but you can control how long you let them sting.

I wish you the wisdom to accept help when it is offered. If someone wants to cook you dinner or do the dishes or change a diaper, let them. Doing everything yourself does not make you a better mother, and at the end of the day, you’ll be the only one keeping score.

And most of all I wish that one day you will gain the confidence to realize that you are doing a great job at this motherhood thing; no matter how loudly the voices in your head try to tell you otherwise.

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It’s my son’s 5th birthday today. As I sit down to write I can’t seem to put my finger on just one emotion to focus on.  Instead, there seem to be a whole bunch of different thoughts and feelings swirling around inside of me.

I’m shocked. I can’t believe my baby is already five. Though so many of the days and weeks drag on and on, it seems as though the past five years have gone by in a blur of moments and memories. How can it be five years since the doctor told us, much to our surprise, that you were a boy? Five years since your sister came slowly into the room for the first time, excited to check out her new brother and give you the first of a hundred soft kisses on your head.

I’m amazed. Every time I see you do something new, learn something new, try something new I have to stop and take a breath. How is my baby old enough to put on a little Cars backpack and go off to school? How is my baby old enough to read that book all by himself? When did he learn how to play soccer and hold a hockey stick like he’s a pro?

I’m happy. I’m so glad we can go to the park, or the store or the zoo on a whim without the planning and packing required of a military operation. I’m (mostly) glad you can tell me what you want, what you need, what you’re feeling. The guesswork of your baby and toddler days is past us now; both of us now confident in our skills and abilities.  I love that you’re still small enough to give me hugs and kisses even when other people are watching.  I love that you tell me I look nice and are always the first to notice when I wear something new!

I’m sad. When you were born I thought there would be one more after you. I didn’t know at the time that you would be our last.  We have decided that two is best for us but I wish I would have known that then. I would have cuddled for a minute more, appreciated that amazing baby smell a little more, taken it all in and filed it away a little more carefully.

I’m excited. I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do next. I can’t even imagine what the next five years are going to bring.  With your big brown eyes and your long lashes, you seem to wrap everyone around your little finger and I have visions of pre-teen girls prank calling our house day and night.  Oh what fun it’s going to be!  I wonder if you’ll continue to love music or if sports will grow to be your favourite.  I hope you continue to love reading in a way that unfortunately we tend to encourage more in girls than in boys.  I hope it will be a few more years before you’re too big to curl up on my knee with a book in one hand and your favourite blanket in the other asking if we can “read together” like you do now.

I’m proud.  You’re turning into such a wonderful little boy and although I believe most of that credit is due to you, I’m also proud of myself.  I’m proud that we’ve made it through the sleepless nights, the hours spent trying to get you to eat, to burp, to sleep, the seemingly endless days spent rocking, walking, bouncing.  I’m proud that we made it through your toddler tantrums and the weeks and weeks of whining about this, that, and every thing.  We did it together, you and me, and I think we both deserve a pat on the back.

Happy birthday little man.  Thank you so much for bringing me along on your journey over the past five years; I can’t wait to see what else you have in store!

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I don’t remember the last time you slept in bed with us.  You used to do it all the time; I used to dream of the day when it would stop.  You manage to take up a lot of room for a little person and your knees and elbows always found their way into the small of my back, digging around between my ribs.

I don’t remember the last time you reached out to hold my hand to cross the street.  Now when I try to reach for yours you roll your eyes at me and whine “moooooooom.”  Apparently you’re too old for things like that.

I don’t remember the last time you cried when you went to school or daycare or to your grandparents.  You always went fairly willingly without us, always yearning for a new adventure, the next challenge you could tackle alone.

I don’t remember the last time I read a story to you without you reading along with me.  I am so excited that you can experience the wonder of reading books by yourself; opening doors to a whole other world for you.  But I miss reading out loud to you, rocking with you in our chair which neither one of us really fits in anymore, let alone together.

I do remember the last time you used a bottle and how proud of you we were for finally giving them up.  At the time we thought you would never willingly throw them away.  We spent many hours coming up with strategies and tricks to get you to move to a sippy cup.  I was sure we had somehow ruined you, your teeth, your stomach, by letting you use them as long as we did.  Now I wish I wouldn’t have made such a big deal about it.

I do remember the last time you rode a bike with training wheels.  You were so desperate to be a big girl.  I could see you sitting on your “little kid” bike at the end of the driveway, watching with envy as other neighbourhood kids rode by on their two-wheelers.  I wanted to tell you that it’s okay; not to rush; to enjoy being a kid as long as you could.  I knew you wouldn’t listen even if I did say the words out loud.

I do remember the last time you fit into the dress that my grandmother had made for me.  You pranced around the living room in it, even though the zipper would barely close and it was about 4 inches too short.  After I managed to convince you to change out of it I tucked it away in your closet so you wouldn’t pull it out and try to wear it again.  Now it will be put away as it was for the years before you wore it.  Put away to be pulled out years from now, maybe when you have a daughter yourself and maybe she’ll dance around in it just the way you did, that last time.

Happy 8th birthday to my baby girl.  So often being a parent is about the “first times.”  The first step, the first word, the first smile.  You’ve taught me that it’s the “last times” that really mean the most.

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