Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day: A Journey

It's been five years since the day I found out I was going to be a mother.

Oh, how my life has changed since that day. I now have one complex, kindhearted, over-thinking comedian of a 4 year old, one chubby cheeked, thinks-he's-bigger-than-he-is, smiley adventurer of a nearly 2 year old, and one bigger-than-he-should-be gymnast of a fetus who I am sharing the start of our 2nd trimester with. The picture of our life couldn't be more different, now. 

The day of my very first positive pregnancy test, I was 23 and held a full time job, zipping around in my little Mazda 3, and my concerns mostly took place in the dressing rooms of New York and Company and Forever 21. And while living the life of a mini-van-driving stay at home mom with a sink full of dishes and borrowed maternity clothes seems like the biggest change I've made over these past 5 years, it's not. The biggest change has taken place in my heart.

Maybe it's cliche to say that, but it's true. My heart has evolved, shifted, grown, broken, healed, exploded, and matured. It has gone through many transitions at many crossroads I didn't even know existed. Motherhood has changed the way I see, feel, and react. And the journey has been more incredible than I ever could have imagined.

Me with newborn LukasWhen Lukas was born, I was prepared to care for him. Probably over prepared. But I wasn't ready for the love and emotion he'd bring to my life. I wasn't ready for the way he would forever change my view of other children, grown men that still love their mothers, Grandparents that cling to the little living extensions of their once-young babies, and children that have no parents to love them unconditionally, wildly, and unflinchingly. When Luke made me a mom, I realized that I had never done anything so worthwhile in all the years before him. Nothing mattered, nothing made sense, and nothing was important...until there was him. He enhanced every simple experience, my marriage, and the core of who I was as a person - from the first minutes of his life, through the present day. Those first couple of years with him were so filled with love and happiness, and it seeped into every other aspect of our lives.

Me with newborn HenryWhen I found out I was pregnant with Henry, I was conflicted in a way I never expected. I so desperately wanted a sibling for my sweet Luke, and after the initial thrill of succeeding, I was hit with a wave of, "What have I done?".  I realized that life with the most special person I'd ever known was about to change in a really drastic way. I was sure that I would love my second child, but I wondered how in the world I could love anyone as much as I loved my Luke. It didn't seem possible. I feared that I would upset Luke's world, and make him angry and resentful towards me. I feared that I might have hurt the person that meant the most to me in the world by not allowing him to be the sole recipient of my motherly love. I spent many nights crying as I tucked him into bed, knowing that each night was one closer to him being "one of my kids" instead of "my only kid". The day before his brother was born, I cried and cried - and it was all over Luke. Not over fear for birth, not worry about having another newborn - just about how Luke felt. It was at this point that I realized my heart had been forever and irrevocably changed. 

And the next morning, it changed again. It expanded and filled and evolved. I laid my eyes on Henry for the first time, and started crying. When I saw his face, all of my worries and fears about Luke melted away, and all I could think was...."We were supposed to know you, and I already love you." I spent our first day together falling more and more in love with him, and my heart grew to accommodate him. 

Lukas & Henry meet for the first timeThe next day - more growing. Luke came to the hospital with my mom to meet his new brother. The first time I saw them together, it took all of my power not to cry like a blubbering idiot in front of everyone. My eyes welled with tears as I saw Luke leaning over his baby brother, and as my husband posed for a picture with his two boys. And in the days after we brought Henry home, Luke fell in love with him, too. He would stand near us as I rocked H to sleep - occasionally reaching out to smooth his hair and pet his little head. And even though Luke was only 2.5, he would "aww" and tell his brother he loved him. And my heart grew more and more. Seeing my children bond and enjoy each other as each month goes on is an experience that will never be topped.

As Henry grew out of his baby phase - each and every day of it - I began mourning for a newborn. As crazy as that sounds, I knew weeks after Henry's arrival that I was not done having babies. I learned very quickly that my Mama heart was big and stretchy, and despite my fears before our second little one arrived, it had lots of room for more.

Watching Luke fall in love with his little brotherAnd here we are, awaiting our third little lovey. One that will be here in time to celebrate the whole holiday season with us, as a family. When I look at my sonogram pictures - especially the 3D ones where I can see the spots on our #3's legs and arms and cheeks that will fill out with baby fluff and soon be kissable and squeezable - I feel so much excitement. I feel it over smelling another sweet newborn, holding another tiny person that I made, starting another breastfeeding relationship, and being the world to yet another human being. How is it even possible that I have been blessed with these three human beings? I have been abundantly gifted with sweet life and love, and it is so difficult to articulate the depth of my gratitude.

Through the years, my heart has broken over things like - Luke starting preschool, both of them finishing up breastfeeding and outgrowing their tiny clothes and shoes and diapers, and even just kissing them goodbye as they spend the night with their Grandparents. But it's also been invigorated by seeing them master tasks, learn how to play with each other, witnessing them express gratitude, love, guilt, and every other complicated emotion they've encountered. My heart nearly explodes when they tell me they love me, or give me a kiss without provocation, or when they hug and kiss each other goodnight and string along their "bye-byes" because they'll miss each other til morning. (Boy will they love sharing a room when baby gets here!)

kising Luke on his first day of preschoolMy journey as a mother began on Mother's Day in 2008 as an extra line on a pregnancy test. May 11th. This day marks the beginning of life as I know it. It has been an intense and rewarding ride since then, and I'm so thrilled that it has a lifetime of experiences to offer me still. Mother's Day has since become my favorite of all holidays. It's a day that celebrates the fact that my children exist, and honors the love that grows between us. It's not about the gifts or the flowers or breakfast in bed (though those things are wonderful, especially when my kids put their stamp on them). It's about the recognition of the privilege I've been given to be a mother. To be their mother. I  always spend the day with my eyes wide open, staring at my kids movements and actions, soaking up their every feature, listening to their little voices, and breathing in the wonder of this life experience I've been given. I use it to honor them - for being mine, for being sweet and loving, and for changing me into an entirely new person. I know that it's supposed to be my day, and I tend to celebrate my kids instead, but that's what makes it my day. They made me who I am today, and I am grateful for a day that celebrates the wonderful change they've created in me.

kissing baby HenryBeing a mom is a tough job, and one that tests us nearly every moment of the day. It can be frustrating, heartbreaking, disgusting, and exhausting. But any mom will attest - it's the most rewarding, fulfilling, and awe-inspiring position to be in. And for me, it's one of the only positions I will spend a lifetime being thankful for. 

So on this Mother's Day weekend....I wish you Moms, Grandmas, and your Moms and Grandmas the happiest of Mother's Days. May your journey through motherhood, past present and future, be as full and blessed as I know it can be. 

20 comments:

  1. Absolutely beautiful! I'm crying like a baby. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. This was awesome! I can so relate to the anxiety and conflifting emotions with baby #2. How in the world could I love another being as much as my oldest? The one who made me a mother and taught me so much about myself as a person, overall? Of course, as you experienced, as soon as he made his grand appearance I was head over heels in love all over again! Thanks for sharing and Happy Mothers Day to you!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Motherhood IS truly amazing. You don't realize how much love expands until you have a second or third (or more) child! Happy Mother's Day!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Fabulous post, truly! Happy Mother's Day.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Tearjerker post. So touching. Happy Mothers Day!

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a lovely post! Happy Mother's Day to you! I hope it's a very special day! Visiting you from the NE bloggers weekend hop.
    xo Amber

    ReplyDelete
  7. I really, really needed to read this. It made me remember when I was about to give Nico two siblings at once and how I, too cried the night before. And how weeks after the twins were born, I knew I wasn't done. This brought me right back to those moments. Those stretchy heart moments. This was so absolutely beautiful. Happy Mother's Day!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Beautiful post! Thanks so much for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Being a mom is the greatest gift. You were so young when you started!!! I had my twins at 34 and they are definitely the best thing that has ever happened to me, period. Your heart definitely changes in ways you could never imagine unless you experience it. Well said!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Beautifully written. Motherhood is the greatest gift....enjoy every minute of it! Oh, how I miss those baby days!

    Best of luck blogging!
    Debbie

    ReplyDelete
  11. A very great read for me. motherhood is indeed a great blessing and privilege.
    Visiting from SITS, do enjoy your feature day today!

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a gift being a mom has been to me! I love reading about your three blessings. Happy SITS Day!

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a gift being a mom has been to me! I love reading about your three blessings. Happy SITS Day!

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a gift being a mom has been to me! I love reading about your three blessings. Happy SITS Day!

    ReplyDelete
  15. You are so right about the emotions with the first, second, and, third babies. I went through that with our 3 girls. Big stretchy hearts are a gift to both moms and their kids. Enjoy your SITS Day. Enjoy the holidays with your family.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Ah... you encapsulated what it means to be a mom in every way!!! Your journey resonates with ALL moms!! Beautifully written!

    ReplyDelete
  17. My oldest is 15, and I can barely remember what it's like to not be a mother. It's the hardest and best job in the world - you captured it beautifully. Have a wonderful SITS day, and an easy remainder of your pregnancy. I happen to know from experience that babies born around Halloween turn out to be awesome :
    )

    ReplyDelete
  18. Such a great post! I truly know what you mean when you wondered how could you possibly love the second as much as the first?! And how would the second feel knowing they were second to my love. But it's not like that as you and I both know now. It's amazing how it all works out and those worries look silly looking back! I just spent a hour looking back over photos to choose my "Travel Throwback Thursday" photo and cried over the loss of my little babies. They're 9 and 6 now! Unlike you, I feel that our family really is complete and have to deal with the loss of those "seasons" and enjoy this "season" I'm in now. :) Lastly, my first mother's day was spent in the hospital the day after my first daughter was born! :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Beautiful! My second born is a Henry, too, and I had many of these same feelings with him.

    ReplyDelete