Tonight I worked on Henrys baby book, something my mother did for us when we were little and later I loved looking back at so much I wanted to do it for my kids too. My first-born son’s book I had completed by the time he was one. Henry turns five this weekend and I’m still putting his together.
“It goes fast.” is literally what everyone tells you. So, I won’t say it, too. But, how is it that he is 5?
In building the baby book, I was looking back over so many old pictures of him being so little I couldn’t even hold him on my hip, of riding countless hours in a pouch on mine or Joel’s body, of him snuggling and nursing for a few years, of him riding in a carseat on my arm asleep (which he’s close to being out of now because he’s so big!), of him next to his much smaller (then) brother that he adored right off the bat.
The photos also reveal a different me. A younger me. A more naïve me. A me that reflects sheer joy at begin a mom-happy and exhausted. A me with less wrinkles and less gray hair (ahem). A me trying to figure out how to be a mom as I went through each and every day. A me that was far less comfortable with myself than I am now.
It’s funny because if I had to do it all over again with what I know now it seems like it would be so much easier. How to swaddle. How to nurse. How to comfort a baby. How to find self-care amidst tending to others. What things to worry about and what things not to. That the house is just going to be a mess, and not to worry about it. To spend more time with Owen because he really needed it more. To give my husband more attention because he was going through it to. That it really does go so fast and to try to enjoy the small, mundane, everyday moments more.
Having children hasn’t been an easy road for me. I have dealt with ultra-crazy hormones, moving to a different state with no family or friends, hard times in our marriage, difficulty (infertility) conceiving Henry, challenging times with kid behavior, lows in my own self-confidence.
I suppose in doing it, living it, moving through the easy and hard, the highs and lows, the complicated and simple I have shaped all parts of my being and widened my own aperture. Tonight, I am feeling immense gratitude for these experiences that have shaped me so deeply that I look through them as I see everything now.
That the pain helps me feel joy more deeply. That nothing beautiful comes without some suffering. That the more-frantic nature I used to run around with can be more grounded now. That we almost didn’t even have Henry-which I can’t even imagine. That the boys have each other now, which can be good to remember even when they are fighting. That discomfort can be a gift. That nothing is more important than family and friends. That the eye contact with another primary care giver can relay a sense of deep understanding.
So, as I go to bed tonight applying my anti-wrinkle creams, I also rest knowing I can see with wider eyes, deeper experiences, that the pain and joy I’ve experienced brings a depth to my life, my relationships and my sense of what matters most of all.
When I look across at my two (three if you count Joel) beautiful boys, I feel such immense gratitude it is actually overwhelming. That I have dishes to wash. That I have laundry to fold. That I have this beautiful chaos in my life. That my heart might actually burst open feeling how fortunate I am to even be alive. That somehow I can even appreciate my wrinkles.