As I walked into my apartment, excited to spend time with Lauren and her new baby, Bowen, I was hit with the reality of her life. The little one, now 2 1/2 months old, was experiencing his first cold, thus forcing his schedule completely out of whack and turning night into day. On the couch, with eyes swollen from fatigue and tears, sat my sleep-deprived daughter. Remembering those early days with my eldest, I took her in my arms to soothe her tired moment and simply said, “Honey, I promise this will pass.”
Thirty-seven years ago, holding her big sister, Michelle, late at night, I prayed she’d find a way to sleep. I prayed even harder that it would be for more than 45 minutes. Swaying back and forth with her in my arms in the quiet of the early morning, my tired mind wandered to a dark place where I began to question, Whoever said having a baby was a good idea? Obviously they didn’t have any of their own. A drained body, as well as mind, can distort anyone’s vision. How I remember wanting to speed dial to the next phase of child-rearing – say, college. She’d be all grown up and we’d be sleeping again.
Then, one magical evening it happened! Just as she turned 3 months old, a nighttime fairy on glittery gossamer wings arrived and sprinkled pixie dust over her sweet face, causing her to slumber for eight hours at a stretch. Oh, the joy of feeling rested again! But several days later, with energy back in full measure, I found myself teary once more. Looking at my child smiling from ear-to-ear, who appeared to have grown overnight, I was hit with the realization of how much things were changing before my eyes.
Time has a lovely way of teaching you perspective. Once upon a time those trying moments of parenthood – the endless tears for no apparent reason, a house in a constant state of disarray due to all the toys and the broken hearts I couldn’t mend – nearly undid me. How I longed for happy children, as well as peace and quiet. Now that I’m a seasoned first-time grandma, I know better. Call me crazy, but I cherish every second I get with my grandson, especially the snot-filled, 3 a.m. cries and diaper explosions.
Fortunately, it wasn’t long before Bo, too, began sleeping through the night, becoming more expressive with smiles, babbling and rolling over. I think he’s even grown a couple of inches. Life is sweet again as we wait to see where his uncharted travels take him. But each time I hold him in my arms and gaze into his blue eyes, whether he’s crying or giggling, I want to freeze frame each and every moment. Having been through it before, I know it’s important not to blink.
So, Lauren, this Christmas I plan to give you the best present ever – my advice. Bo will always need you. Even as an adult he’ll still need you, though he’ll pretend not to. But these sacred moments now where you are his entire world, his everything, are sadly short-lived. The delightful mystery of parenthood is that just when you think you have it all together, he’ll change. He’ll become sweet and charming, as well as snarky and rude. He’ll have sorrows and successes. One day he’ll love you, the next, not so much. But through it all, try not to wish any of it away. In and of itself, it’s all magic. And, if you’re anything like your mother, you’ll one day miss it – all of it, for all of it shall pass as he grows to his great becoming, just like you.