Simple Moments, Sweet Joys

While I can’t remember much these days, I do remember when I was pregnant with my first child, Ben, and people would ask me all sorts of questions, mostly of the well-meaning but occasionally dumbfounding variety (like, did you really just comment, ‘you look huge, are you so ready to have that baby?’). And then they would often proceed in their attempts to ‘prepare me for motherhood’ by saying things like, “sleep now because you won’t sleep for the next 18 years” or “ get ready because your life is about to totally change, it’s gonna be all about diapers and feeding and the latest Pixar movie from here on out.” Or there’s my favorite, “brace yourself for this baby to rock your marriage. It’s extremely difficult to find time for you and hubby to connect once baby arrives and to talk about things other than poopy diapers and a sleep schedule. But you need to find that time, so be intentional.” The picture of the child-rearing phase being painted in my head could have easily been entitled, “Misery.” Hearing all of these stories and pieces of advice started to send me into a bit of a panic as I found myself begging my husband, “Tell me again, why we chose to do this.” But I reasoned that those same people choose to have more than one child, so there has to be an/some upside(s), right?

And in all honesty, now that I have my own child, I can say that much of what people ‘warned’ me about is true in some way. It IS challenging. Having a child does change your life, it does change your marriage, but not all for worse, and in fact, not even mostly. What I wasn’t hearing much of when I was pregnant, what I wished I had heard, were the sweet moments, the ones that I think people are thinking of (but often don’t bother to tell you or perhaps they can’t articulate) when they pat me on the shoulder and assured me, “but it’s all worth it.” In my opinion, those are the stories that expectant mamas and papas need to hear. Of course it’s healthy to have our expectations set as realistic as possible, but there are plenty of books out there to inform us of our impending lack of sleep. And the reality, at least my reality, is that there are countless tender moments that really don’t carry the weight they deserve until you experience them for yourself. So, now that I’ve ventured a mere 14 months into the motherhood and am preparing to welcome another little monkey to our family, I thought I would share just 10 (of many) sweet moments I’ve experienced with Ben that consistently melt my heart, increase the ‘love-flow’ as I call it, and truly (I swear to you) make being a mom, the incredible, wonderful, life-changing journey that it is.

1. The wide-eyed gaze of wonderment that my son gets when he rides in the stroller, in awe of the trees rustling in the wind, the puffy white clouds dancing in the sky, and the birds serenading us as we stroll on by (one big reason why a ‘peek-window’ in the shade canopy is so worth it!)

2. The hearty laughter that erupts from the pit of his belly in uncontrollable waves simply because that one little piggy dared to go ‘wee wee wee, all the way home.’

3. The look of joy that emanates from his face as he hears the altogether new sound that he created by banging 2 plastic balls together in his tiny hands.

4. When we arrive home in the car and he is cashed out in his carseat, appearing so peaceful and serene, his long eyelashes resting on his cheeks, which appear chubbier and even more kissable than usual. And I take a moment to watch and listen to his soft rhythmic breathing, a sort of breathing that speaks the language of rest.

5. The glowing pride he radiates as he dares to take an unassisted step and then proceeds to crash into the safety of my embrace, laughing with delight.

6. The initial moments following a nap, when I walk into his room, assuring him and his tears that “mommy is here.” He peers up at me from his crib, still half asleep, arms stretched in the air, with that one giant, salty tear drop still resting on his cheek. I pick him up and he clings with both hands to my neck and rests his warm, sleepy head on my shoulder, cuddling for a moment or two before he spots his toy on the floor and starts squirming to get down, ready to begin exploring his world all over again.

7. Bathtime – His excitement and laughter as he splashes at the water and squirts a stream into my face with his little dolphin-shaped bath toy. And as I bundle him up in his towel and nuzzle my face into his tufts of soft, fine hair, I breathe in the sweet smells of chamomile and lavender, sweetness to my senses.

8. The persistence he demonstrates as he pushes his fire truck through the living room, up and over that pillow that threatened to stop him, ‘vroom-vrooming his way on through!’

9. I can’t help but laugh and appreciate (for now anyway) the moments when he dares to drop a piece of food over the edge of his high chair to our dog, who now consistently parks her ever-widening behind under the high chair at meal time. As I point to my mouth and firmly say, ‘Ben, you eat your food, in your mouth please. Do not give it to Sami,’ he flashes me a rebellious grin, drops it right into Sami’s mouth, and laughs like he’s just pulled off the biggest scam in the world. Like I said, it’s funny now but ask me again in two years!

10. When we arrive somewhere new and to him, quite foreign, I can see the adventurous look in his eyes. He wants so desperately to explore his new surroundings. He wanders out from my embrace, crawling (soon to be walking) over to some shiny object or person, to check it out. And a moment or two later, he quickly comes crawling back to my arms, a place where he has learned will greet him with safety and love. And he repeats this ‘out and back’ behavior over and over again, each time discovering a little more how he is separate from me, his own little person, but also how he can still come back to me, and I will be there. I recognize that these ‘out and back’ adventures are going to become farther and last longer with each passing year, which is why I want to cherish each and every sweet, tender, joy-evoking moment with him that I can!

(Right click and press 'stop download' if you can't play the video; and you might want to turn your volume down to avoid hearing my high-pitched, squeaky mom voice!)