Saturday, May 19, 2012

10 Sweetest Things - 11 Months

Daniel turns 11 months old today. This has been simultaneously the best and hardest 11 months of my life. One of the greatest gifts of motherhood is that I really appreciate small things now. On Mother's Day, I had a glass of champagne and a plate of mussels with a dear friend, sitting by an open window, feeling the Spring breeze, and it was heavenly. She said to me, "Remember when this was normal? Did we appreciate it then?" I don't know that you can appreciate an afternoon glass of champagne when it's normal. But now that alone time with my besties is a treat, I treasure it.

Similarly, living with an infant grounds me in the moment in a way nothing ever has before. So many times a day I find myself trying to soak up and absorb the sweetness of a given moment, not to hold onto it so much as to enjoy it while it's happening. Below are a list of recent sweet things. I hope you're enjoying the sweetness of your life today.

1.      When I come home from work, Daniel scoots as fast as he can toward the door, with a huge grin and the happiest noises I’ve ever heard a human make.
2.      When he’s tired, he’ll rest his head on my chest as I rock him.
3.      He sleeps through the night, and naps like a champ (most days).
4.      He caws like a crow, he quacks like a duck, and makes a cara fea (ugly face) on demand.
5.      When I’m out of sight, I’ll hear him coming down the hall, getting more excited as he gets close, then squeal with delight when he finds me.
6.      When Carl brought him his favorite blankie (knitted by Grandma) the other day, he smiled, kicked his legs and wiggled in joy. 
7.      He’s a good mimic. Latest word – elevator.
8.      He buries his face in anyone or anything he loves.
9.      He hugs my legs from behind when I’m at the kitchen counter.
10.  He kisses pictures of babies in books.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Motherhood, My Way

Daniel rocking a Peruvian alpaca sweater

Something I’ve found hard as a mom is responding to other people’s expectations of what I should be doing. (Or what I think other people think I should be doing.) The most innocent question, like “what are you doing for Daniel’s first Easter?” can induce rage, defensiveness, derision. “Uh, he has no concept what Easter is, so nothing,” is what I want to say. I felt resentful about what everyone seemed to think I should do for his first Christmas, so you can imagine how I feel with his first birthday approaching.

I know moms who have formal pictures taken for every holiday – even St. Patrick’s and Valentine’s Day. I know moms who knitted stockings for baby’s first Christmas. I know moms who are planning elaborate first birthday parties. Because I have a tendency to compare myself to others, when I hear this I ask myself, why aren’t you doing that?

But recently a new thought occurred to me: maybe those moms do those things because they enjoy it, not because they’re caving to social pressure. I really enjoy dressing up. I’ve had people ask me, snottily, why I was wearing pearls on a Tuesday afternoon. The answer is, I just like to. It makes me happy. Similarly, I love to put my little man in cute outfits. I suspect very soon he’ll start having opinions about what he wears, so I’m taking advantage of this time to dress him the way I want to. Not to impress anyone. Not because formal wear is important for babies – just because it makes me smile.

So here’s my thought for Mother’s Day: motherhood has plenty of drudgery. Let’s all make a pact to not make it harder for ourselves than it has to be. I’m going to do mom things that bring me joy, and leave the photo shoots, crafts and parties for the Martha Stewart types. Happier mom means happier Daniel. So it will be pizza and cake for his first birthday, with whoever can show up on a Tuesday night. Maybe I'll wear pearls.