I remember the day after we brought him home from the hospital I had laid him on the Boppy lounger in the living room. Justin had run out on a quick errand, there was Christmas music playing, cool winter light was shining clear and strong in through the windows and I stood in the kitchen and looked out at Theo, swaddled and peacefully sleeping, and I cried. Standing alone in the kitchen, I cried. Because what I had prayed and so deeply hoped for for so long was finally our new way of life and my heart was so very full of so much thankfulness and so much love.
Life with a baby, with children, is tough sometimes. It can be confusing and frustrating. I remember having to tell myself so many times in the beginning that Theo and I were on the same team. That he wasn’t trying to be difficult. He was just so new to everything. It’s easy to feel like you are battling against each other when you are trying to figure out what could be wrong, but really you are battling with each other. Working together to resolve the problem and restore rest. And by all accounts we really did have so much more rest than struggles in the beginning, and throughout the last 12 months, which I am very grateful for and do not take for granted. Looking back I mostly wish I would have felt more reassured that I would learn who Theo was. Learn his cries, his needs, his personality. People would say that they almost immediately knew the difference between their baby’s cries, but it took me months to figure out Theo’s. I remember wondering why Theo wasn’t necessarily reaching some milestones as quickly as other babies, smiling, rolling over, etc. And it took me far too long to just realize that it was all just part of his personality. That he was simply a slow and steady kind of boy and as soon as I let go of my expectations of who Theo would be, I found that I could rejoice more in who he was and I suddenly discovered parts of his personality I had never noticed before.
While I’ve pondered so many thoughts about motherhood and parenting in the past 12 months, I’ve also thought back over Theo’s birth story many times over the past year, both with pride and sometimes with uncertainty, basically an unsure feeling of how I should regard my birth of him. Today’s culture makes births like weddings, like they are almost the epitome of you, your greatest moment, your whole being wrapped up into one event. And while I truly believe that birth can be a natural and beautiful part of a woman’s life. I can honestly say my entire existence was not wrapped up in that moment. Not in the decision to be induced, not in that decision to get an epidural, not in the ability to have a vaginal birth. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems many times that you start off motherhood with an automatic grade of your mothering competence depending on your birth choices or experience. And I just feel that it’s too much weight to put on a single event in your life. I think that the conversation around birth is important and should be had, but I also think there’s a time to stop talking about it and just allow mothers to make peace with their decisions and circumstances so they can continue on to parent their child that they made and delivered, no matter the process.
At this point, to be honest with you, I am proud of my birth, despite there being no essential oils or mantras involved, no bathtub or immediate skin to skin, because who I am as a mother and who Theo is as my son extends so far beyond that moment.
Together we worked for his birth and together we work each day after growing our relationship!
And now today, he is one. A little boy. My little boy.
My heart outside my body.
My greatest challenge and my greatest joy.
I want so badly to somehow communicate to those without children the feeling of deep precious love you have for your own child. A love that just cannot be known or understood until you have a child of your own. People without children have said to me before that they want to have kids, but they are nervous about having a difficult child and I wish I could help them understand that the grace and love is still there, even when it’s difficult. That you’ll get upset, you’ll be tired, and you will be confused, but that love will still be there, filling out the ups and downs of being a parent and making it the most breathtaking, life changing, and worthwhile experience you may ever know.
Parenting isn’t for everyone. And I commend those who value and stick to their decision not to have children. Those who don’t have children are not living a lesser life, they are missing out on something, but just in the same way that those with children are missing out on a life without. For me, personally, I have always felt the deepest desire to be a mother and I still find myself in awe of the opportunity I have been given to be the mother to Theo.
Theo is, above all, incredibly sweet and easy going. While he still, since his very first one, hates baths almost completely, he is mostly patient and slow to tears with all else. He likes to say ‘dada’ as much as possible. Sometimes with a loud shout and sometimes in the quietest little whisper to himself. He also knows how to say ‘yeah’ and responds to questions with an emphatic ‘yeah’ like he almost realizes what he’s saying. He loves to read his books and can’t ever get enough music in his life. He has little brown curls all around his ears and back of his head and still just two of the cutest little teeth you’ve ever seen, although I can see that his top two teeth are so close to making an appearance. If he isn’t sick or over tired, he falls asleep quietly on his own after Justin reads him both a bible story and another rotating storybook and I’ve held him again one more time before I lay him in his crib. He’ll eat almost anything you give him, although he’s wary of the texture of broccoli and oranges, and is pretty neat with his food until he’s full and then decides all the rest belongs on the floor. He’s not at all a performer and while he picks up on skills and habits of those around him almost daily, he will not be prodded to reproduce them for others to see. He gets bashful if you are a stranger and notice him and loves to snuggle if he feels comfortable with you. Sometimes when he nurses he’ll grab my face with both his hands and pull it towards him to give me an open mouth kiss, it’s one of my favorite things of all time. He wears 24 month/2T size clothes now and stands as tall, if not taller, than most children 3-6 months older than him. He loves to walk around at the park, kicking his little toy ball in front of him and collecting particular leaves and rocks. He loves the wind and would be outside all day if he could just simply wandering. He looks more like Justin every day, but if you compare a photo of me as a baby to him you’ll see me in him too. He loves to be cozy and will snuggle his stuffed animals all day and come over to me and Justin for hugs regularly. He has so many different facial expressions and likes to go in and out of them all as he watches and understands things. When he drinks out of his cup he’ll often stare wide eyed at me, his big brown eyes almost communicating the focus he’s applying to drinking his water. He squeals with delight when Justin gets home, by far his favorite part of the day. He loves to play with keys and phones and gets the most upset when either are taken away from him. He likes to interact with things slowly, taking his time to understand them before moving forward. He still loves his pacifier, walks everywhere now, while still maintaining the super wide cowboy stance gait. He has the sweetest heart and a fiery stubborn streak that’s showing itself more each day and I love every bit of him!
There are so many other things I could say and mention, but I could be writing forever.
It’s been one of my greatest joys to discover who Theo is and who he’s becoming with each new day. He is a lesson in patience and a reminder to be present. He brings overwhelming happiness to my heart and I regard him as one of my greatest treasures. I am beyond blessed to be his mother and so in closing I give this blessing, this prayer, this dedication to Theo and with my whole heart beseech Jesus to comfort and care for his soul on this earth and for all of eternity.
‘Heavenly Father, you sent; your own Son into this world. We
thank you for the life of this child, Theodore, entrusted to our care.
Help us to remember that we are all your children, and so to
love and nurture him, that he may attain to that full stature
intended for him in your eternal kingdom; for the sake of
your dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’