My little nugget turned one this month. It still feels like part of me is living outside my body … a part of me that is an amazing, wonderful little human being, who is growing so, so quickly. I can’t believe how time flies. I also can’t believe that I never posted this, dare I say, beautiful hospital photo of us three.
When I first saw this photo (taken a year ago last week), I was disappointed in myself. I thought I looked swollen and tired and disheveled for our first professional family photo. And I was. I had a C-section exactly 48 hours before this and my body had swelled more than it had during my entire pregnancy. I had been up all night after a marathon cluster feeding session (breastfeeding after a necessary planned birth at 38 weeks isn’t always seamless). And my sweet boy had just stopped crying long enough for the photographer to snap this image. I wasn’t wearing the shirt I had planned because I had inexplicably gotten blood on the one I wanted to wear. All I wanted was to be home from the hospital with my baby. Yet, just 36 hours after this, at home, I would start breaking out in a horrible rash across my midsection because, of course, I was allergic to the antiseptic used during surgery.
Now, though, I look at this photo and see my son nuzzled into me (he is still the snuggliest), my husband looking at him adoringly, and me … smiling and happy, glowing and so very grateful despite that moment in which I felt all of that above. (Plus, my hair looked pretty fantastic for not having had washed it since before his birth.)
Moms (and dads), we are way too hard on ourselves and on each other. What we do is incredible, and our incredible kids are a testament to that. What I learned more than anything this year is to appreciate every single moment … even the ones that seem out of our control (or completely chaotic … cue his first birthday party outside and my ever-expanding hair on the most humid day of the summer) because they often end up exactly how they should be.
A year ago, I did not post this photo, but what a difference a year makes. August has been, and always was, a month of reflection for me. First my birthday, this year my first as a mommy … then my little Leo baby’s big day. And they really are intertwined … not only because my Oliver Benjamin carries on the name of my Grandma and lifelong birthday buddy, but because he makes me a better me. As I wrote that day, he has added another layer to my being, one that informs and impacts all of my other many layers.
Toni Morrison, whose recent death had me reading these words on my birthday, unsurprisingly expressed it best: “There was something so valuable about what happened when one became a mother. … If you listen to [your children], somehow you are able to free yourself from baggage and vanity and all sorts of things and deliver a better self, one that you like. The person that was in me that I liked best was the one my children seemed to want.”
My baby boy — my sunshine, my happy little guy born with a big personality that keeps getting bigger by the day — reminds me of this constantly. I am so proud of how outgoing and sweet, funny (he has serious comedic timing!), inquisitive, and wise beyond his, well, months he already is. I love watching him smile, laugh, grow, dance, and discover the world. I love seeing that world through his eyes and having fun with him each and every day. I still can’t believe that he is already one. Right now, I am his teacher — but, really, he is teaching me a whole lot, too. Sure, he makes me want to always put forth my best self — but, more importantly, he makes me want to live in the moment even if the moment isn’t exactly picture perfect.