Motherhood doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
I can choose to “embrace,” “enjoy” and “soak up” the moments that I want to. It’s OK if those moments don’t include nights when I only get an hour or two of sleep. Or days when I have to sit around topless because my child has decided he will only be placated by my breast in or near his mouth. Or moments when I’m late for work because my baby puked on my first three outfits. Times when my child is in hysterics and I have no clue what is wrong or how to make it better.
Because these hard moments, while not the most enjoyable, are part of the gig. And each one teaches me.
With each passing day that I’ve been a mom, I learn. I grow. It is getting easier, as everyone told me it would. I am “enjoying” a lot more these days. In fact, I find my 8-month-old to be a complete blast. Even now, it’s hard to dig deep and remember just how hard those first few weeks were.
I know he won’t always need me. I know he won’t always be small. I know that the toughest phases of parenting won’t last forever. I know I won’t be able to cuddle him forever. I know this.
I snuggle my baby as often as I can, and savor it, because even though he’s only 35 weeks old, he is already too busy discovering the world to sit still with me very often.
I inhale his baby smell and kiss his chubby cheeks, thighs and belly a hundred times a day.
I tear up when I rock him, overwhelmed by the all-consuming love I have for him.
I grieve when he outgrows clothing or goes up a size in his diaper.
I melt when I see him light up when his dad walks into the room.
When he smiles at me, I think, “My heart cannot feel any more full.”
When he “talks” to me, providing all of the facial expressions and dramatic pauses of an adult, I laugh so hard, and my cheeks hurt from smiling.
When he relaxes in my arms, I breathe a sigh of relief — he needs me and I can make it, whatever “it” is at that particular moment, better.
I am crying as I write all of these things, because my heart swells thinking of all the fun we’ve had, and have yet to experience.
So, I am enjoying it. Most of it.
But just because, for one night, I might want to lay my baby down to sleep instead of holding him in my arms, that does not mean I am not soaking it up. It just means I’m tired.
A version of this post originally appeared on Raves & Revelations.