(Nearly) Two full years have gone by since the girl who made me a mother was born. A lot about who I knew myself to be before has changed forever, and I’m nothing but grateful for that. You can never really imagine how having children will change you, and all anybody can do is remain open and willing to let their little hearts and minds form you into what they need you to be. I’ve spent the last two years letting her guide me into motherhood, and it’s been (and continues to be) the most important thing I will ever do anywhere, anytime for ever and ever.
I knew that being a mother would be hard, because that’s what people tell you. But really, I had no idea what that meant. Sure you can understand getting less sleep, changing diapers all day, cleaning up messes that you didn’t make, and not being able to shower as much as you might like. And yeah, that’s kinda hard. What you can’t and won’t understand about a new job as mom is how the things you never even thought about before are the *cussing* hardest part of the whole *cussing* thing. Seriously, no one knows about it until they’re in it! It’s a big trick to get you to procreate and then Surprise! You never saw it coming, that you would wake up at night and worry about the harsh voice you used to correct your child and if you could undo the damage you know you caused to her delicate psyche. And you’ll feel that guilt, you know the kind that no matter how much of a saint you are, you could always be better? And if you’re not so saintly, it morphs into gloomy dread that you’re doing it all wrong. Am I being dramatic? Yes, but you are (will) too if you’re a mom or become one some day. Really, it happens.
Those feelings are what I didn’t see coming. And reconciling my old and new self is another part of the “hard.” Do I still like music and can I go see bands play? Can I still write every day and read the books I want? It’s possible, sort of. But hard. The books might be Dr. Seuss and the music might be “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Truly this isn’t a post about how tough life is after bebe. It’s about reflection, and thinking about how it’s changed me. Which is a lot, a lot.
We’re starting to transition Harper into her own bed. She’s been napping and sleeping on her crib mattress on the (clean) floor. It’s going pretty well. When I told Michael about wanting to begin the transition (we wanted to give her plenty of time after Cora was born so she didn’t feel booted out by a new baby) his response was “Poor booboo.” Booboo is his nickname for her, and yep it’s very sweet. I think it’s different for every family, but her being with us at night and there when we wake up is too precious to not mourn a little. Even if she sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night to stand up and stare out the window saying, “Moont! Look, Mommy! Moont!” Moont=moon. And even though sometimes she cries and screams for no good reason 30 minutes before Michael has to get up at 4am for work. It’s all worth it to have those extra little moments with her. Around now seems like a good time to start the change, since I think we wake her up more than she wakes us up. Cora still wakes up to nurse every 4 hours or so, and even in a king sized bed, her sleep acrobatics make it tough to move without jostling her. So far she likes her big girl bed. And I can quickly go to comfort her should she need it in the night. Sometimes she sleeps right through the night, and sometimes I have to go lay with her for a minute or two, and that’s all she needs. Eventually we’ll move her into the her room. I don’t know how I feel about that yet…
We’re still nursing every so often. She nurses to sleep for naps and bedtime and a couple times throughout the day because she likes the comfort of it. I went into this breastfeeding thing being very open to letting her lead the way and show me what she needs. I really never thought we’d still be going at 2, and I think she would have weened a bit earlier if Cora hadn’t come along and renewed her interest (and my milk supply). Sure it’s hard sometimes and yeah I feel like I’m always pulling my shirt down for someone but if Harper and the World Health Organization both think that nursing ’til 2 and beyond is the right thing to do, then that’s what we’ll do. I try not to think about the fact that when Cora has weened it could end up being 4+ years of straight breastfeeding. Yipes.
I won’t say I’ve enjoyed every minute of every nursing session these passed two years (sometimes I am SO touched out) but I will say I am glad I never forced her to ween before she was ready. I’m glad for the relationship we’ve formed and I’m happy to be so important to her, because I know that won’t always be. I want to soak this up as much as I can before it’s just a memory that I recall to Michael every few days when we’re old. And Michael will say, “Yep, I remember.” But he won’t really. Not like I will. He won’t remember how she plays with my hair when we lay down to sleep or how her feet tuck between my thighs when she curls up next to me. Only I’ll remember how I laid next to her for longer than I had to just because her hair smelled precisely like her. Will there ever be a more precious time than this? I want to bottle her sweet sentences and keep them forever with me. I want some tangible piece of right now to take with me for always, more than a picture or video, more than any relic. I am so privileged to be able to watch this baby grow into an intelligent, thoughtful, and astoundingly sweet individual but at the same time I am begrudging time for moving so quickly. I remember feeling bittersweet when she turned 9 months old and was moving toward having lived longer outside of my body than in it, and now that time spent in my belly seems more and more minimal as she grows. I know in my brain that she wasn’t meant for me to have forever, that she was meant for great things in the big world. But my heart refuses that outright and clings so tight to her always being my small companion.
Now that I’ve seriously made it difficult to see the computer screen through my tears, I’ll just end with some pictures of my girl. I love you, Harper. Forever and ever amen.