Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You've come a long way, Baby

Today my son is four years old. I can hardly believe it.

As I went to sleep last night, I let my mind wander back to the days leading up to his birth. There was this day, where I was surprised to learn that my placenta was dying, and Jack needed to be born faster than I had anticipated. And then there was this day, where I started out exhausted and hungry and wanting to just give up. I honestly believe that if someone else had walked in and said "hey, I'll have that baby for you" on that day I would have been all "Okay! I'm going to go out for a walk and a bagel, you can have this pitocin!" But after that day, I got to have this day. I got to have this boy:

I know, right? SO worth it. Worth every 2 am finger stick, worth every minute of pitocin labor, worth every second of swollen feet and sore back. Completely and absolutely worth it.

The day he was born, all I knew was that I was exhausted and I was elated. He was perfect and pink. I had no idea about the amazing kid he would become. Jackson is sweet and smart. He is compassionate and caring. He would give a hungry person the last bite of his favorite sandwich. His smile lights up a room and his laughter make my heart jump for joy. He is the physical manifestation of all of my hopes and dreams of becoming a mother. He's one of the best gifts in life that God has ever given me.

There was no part of his birthday that went the way I wanted, the way I had planned. But that was an important lesson for me to learn early on in my mothering journey: it doesn't always have to perfect. I've grown from that day of self-loathing and bullying myself as a "failure" and come to realize that there is no single one right answer or way of parenting that will be right for everybody. That was a huge lesson for Little Miss Type A Personality. From the very beginning, nothing I had planned worked out the way I thought it would, and that gave me the freedom to make it up as I go along. My boy's botched birth story is the best way I could have started on my path of motherhood. Because life is not easy, it doesn't always end up the way you thought it would and success isn't a only reward for those who plan and execute, it's also the reward of those who are flexible and adapt. When I dreamt of being a mother, I thought when God made my dreams of being a mother come true that would be the thing I was most thankful for. Instead, when I became a mom I learned to cut myself some slack, to go with the flow and to improvise. I didn't know how to do that before I was a mom. I only knew how to succeed or fail in shame, there was no inbetween.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that becoming a mother gave me so many more important life lessons than just mothering. Becoming a mom changed me, and changed my life in ways I never expected but am forever thankful for. Sometimes I still can't believe that God let me be this kid's mom. Because this kid is amazing. He makes me a better person; I thought it was supposed to be the other way around. And if he can change my world that much in four short years, I can't wait to see what else he accomplishes in life.

Happy fourth birthday, Jackson Phoenix. I'm so thankful that I get to be your mama.

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