Tonight you cry a little more than usual after laying down in your crib, feet kicking, arms flailing. I’m sure the neighbors can hear every squeal. You usually put yourself to sleep well, but tonight you need some coaxing.
I feel around for your tiny body in the pitch-black before lifting you up. Your arms wrap completely around my neck, and I am enveloped by your sweet, shea smell. Your tears fall against my cheek. All of a sudden your breathing slows.
You calm down, and time stands still.
I am breathing you in, etching this brief moment into my mind.
It’s so simple. So sweet.
You have just learned the art of hugging, and it makes my heart melt every time. These are the first squeezes you will give me. The first of many, I can only hope. I sit down in the big, comfy glider we probably paid way too much money for and rock you gently, back and forth, holding on to you as you hold on to me.
Half of your first year has already come and gone. It has flown so swiftly that my heart both leaps and aches all at the same time.
It started with the moment I heard the words, “Lauren, reach down and grab your baby.”
This is it. This is the moment I become a mother.
My pre-mom life flashed before my eyes. My curiosity about who you would be halted everything.
For just a moment everything stopped.
Then you arrived. Tiny, squishy, and very angry we had forced you from your warm little home.
In the most life-changing moment, time stood still.
Later that week we dressed you up in your first real outfit and took you on your first excursion: the doctor’s office. I was so excited to see your progress, to show you off to the world.
Then they told me you’d lost too much weight.
This is your first failure as a mother, I thought
In the most heartbreaking moment, time stood still.
Over the next few days, it seemed that time wouldn’t move. I fed you over and over again, praying you would hold on to just a little bit of the milk. Praying my body could sustain you. Praying you would grow. It took some time, but you did.
Intermingled in the trenches of your first days were so many sweet moments. One morning, I woke up early to feed you. Everyone else was sleeping—it was just you and me, staring at each other after your (first) breakfast. I wiggled your nose with my finger, sang a little tune, and the sweetest grin appeared on your face.
Those days were the hardest. Feeding you over and over again, sleeping every tiny chance I had, which were few and far between. Pouring my whole self into nourishing your frail little body, and totally unsure it was even working.
I did it again, and again, and yet again. You smiled every time as if to say, “You’re doing good, mama.”
Just when I needed time to stand still. And it did.
Time stood still the first time no one could get you to calm down but me. You sank into my arms and went from unconsolable to perfectly content.
It stood still the first time I watched your daddy make you laugh.
When you were so proud of yourself for being able to support your weight with your little legs.
When you put your pacifier in your mouth for the first time independently.
They’re the smallest moments, and I know they seem almost insignificant to everyone else. But they are your moments. They are our firsts together.
Sometimes we do little happy dances because we are just so excited that you are here. Sometimes we sit in the still moments, a little teary and a lot thankful. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing. Mostly my heart whispers, “Lord, I can’t believe I get to be her mama. Thank you.”
The little moments are just the best. Time stands still when you look up and grin at me during our nursing sessions. It stands still when daddy gets home from work and we have our family group hug. It stands still when I hold you and you rest your sweet hand on my cheek, when you pull my face into yours, and when you reach out to me. It stands still as I watch you learn, as you reach new milestones, and when I hear that tiny giggle from the other room.
And in between all these still moments of time, it’s almost like it won’t slow down. I am chasing minute after minute. I am chasing stillness and milestones. I catch them for just a moment. Just a moment of stillness before they start to get away again, rolling faster and faster. It sets a pace that just can’t keep up with.
I know I’ll blink and time will be standing still on your first day of kindergarten.
When you let go of my hand and run to your friends.
When you let go of my home and go build your own.
Time keeps standing still and also running away from me.
At this still moment though, I rock you. I nuzzle your cheek. I let you hug onto me as we go back-and-forth, back-and-forth. I breathe in this moment of time, praying it’ll last a little longer. Praying this time will pause so I can take it all in for just a second longer.
I am breathing you in and all of the sudden loving you even more than I did just a second ago.
Holding you close. Hugging you tight.
Etching this brevity into my mind.
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For more posts like this, check out my previous essays about motherhood!
Huge thanks to Sur La Lune photography for this sweet photo.