Tomorrow is my elder son's third birthday. Therefore, it is my third mom-iversary. It is hard to believe that it has already been three years, even though my little boy now runs and jumps and climbs, knows all his colors and numbers up to 12, can sing Twinkle, Twinkle and the ABC song along with bits and pieces of many others at the top of his lungs. His latest thing is to say "Mommy, give me a hug," while holding out his arms. Of course I usually do all I can to comply, but if I need a minute, he will follow up by repeating his request a little more politely: "Mommy, pwease give me a hug." D'awwww.
I remember this time three years ago. It was Super Bowl Sunday, and the next morning at 3:30 AM was my call to be induced at the hospital. We sat around and ate chips and cheese and watched the game and I tried not to get nervous. Of course I was excited to meet my baby, but I had read probably too much about all the things that can happen in labor and I hoped none would happen to me. Luckily, I only had very minor bumps in the road (a blood pressure dip, wearing an oxygen mask because of baby's heart decelerations, baby was sunny-side up and OB had to turn him), and he was born huge (9lbs 5oz) and crying vigorously. While it wasn't easy to start nursing him (he had trouble latching on), I managed it for the first year of his life with the help of a shield. Now he is the sunniest, most lovely little boy I could ever ask for, and is learning to be a great big brother. Just this morning I came into his room and found him standing in his little brother's crib. Because the baby wasn't screaming, I have to think Big Brother was careful when climbing in there to keep him company. I do hope he doesn't make a habit of that (I don't want him falling on his brother!), but it was darned cute.
I have learned so much from my little guys over the past three years. To write it all down would probably take a book, so maybe I'll summarize it to the top 5.
1. Patience. Having children really teaches you to slow down and wait for things to develop. First, because a newborn is a blob and will slowly develop his or her little personality and learn skills like holding his/her head up and smiling at you. Later, because you can't expect your toddler to do everything you want him to the first time you ask, no matter how sweet he is. It is really hard to remember this sometimes when I'm in a hurry or worried that he is taking too long to learn something (like potty training, for instance!), but I like to think that most of the time I am getting much better at it.
2. Creativity. I like to think of myself as a creative type, but having my kids has really helped me to think outside the box. Whether it's just playing with my toddler or trying to convince him to do something he doesn't want to, that right brain is getting a workout. I can't wait to start making up stories with him; he's already trying to come up with pretend-time games.
3. Selflessness. I hope I wasn't really that selfish to start with, but having kids really gets you to think more about them than yourself. I don't mind waiting several hours to eat or not showering until the late afternoon to fit around their nap schedule. I don't mind wiping butts and noses to make sure my babies are taken care of. I have been peed and puked on and I didn't mind one bit. These are my kids and no matter what, I will love them.
4. Happiness. There is nothing like a young child to break up a gloomy mood. I could wake up on the wrong side of the bed after a bad night's sleep, fighting off a cold and being miserable about something that happened the day before, but when I walk into my boys' bedroom, I'm met with a sunny smile from the baby and my toddler chirping, "Hi, Mommy! I'm awake!" How can you not smile at that? If I manage to resist at that point, he will often add, "Mommy can smile?" I think even if I was on fire or missing a limb I could manage a smile for that.
5. Love. I have always wanted to be a mother, and once I became one, I knew I was right about wanting to be. It's the hardest job I will ever have, but also the most rewarding. To look in my children's eyes and see the joy reflected back to me, even before they can say "I love you," is worth more than any monetary compensation. Those tiny hands cupping my face, those little arms wrapping around my neck, are dearer to me than any jewelry or clothing could be. What people say about your love multiplying, not dividing, when you have more children, is very true. When I had my second son I am sure I felt my heart expand to welcome him in with the same strength of care as I had with my first. I hope they can tell that I love them both the same, which is a whole heck of a lot.
Now I should probably wrap this up before I dissolve in a little pile of emotional goo. But it was fun to reflect on all my kids have taught me so far. They are making me a better person day by day, and I have every confidence that they will continue to do so as long as we live.