I remember the nights when I would pace our bedroom, back and forth, back and forth, bouncing The Engineer in my arms. For hours. HOURS. I did it throughout the day, too, but it was hardest between that 8-10 p.m. hours. Kyle and I would take 10-minute rotations.
I remember thinking how much I needed her to be on a solid sleep schedule but letting her sleep on in the mornings because I just needed a little extra time to myself. To pray. To read. To drink coffee. To just hear silence and not have to be in charge for a moment.
I remember clinging to The Artist, bawling my eyes out before she was even a month old, because now I was always, always responsible for this human being. There would never come a time when I didn’t worry about this person. And I couldn’t protect her from the world, and I cried, because I knew that the world is not always a great place.
I remember when The Artist was placed in NICU and I wondered what I did wrong. Did I run too much? Did I eat raw sushi? What had I done that caused her to go in NICU? When The Engineer was born, I was terrified she would be placed in NICU, too. But we had other issues with her, later on. I remember taking my five-week-old baby to the ER in the middle of a night storm, because she was running more than 100.4-degree fever. It was the first time I had ever been in our ER because of my immediate family. I looked down at my daughter, sleeping in her car seat, and I wondered, “How did we get here?”
As a parent, we have terrifying, fearful moments. And we have hard moments, when we are tired, cranky, hungry. No one is at her best then.
I saw a new mom at our city’s summer festival last month, and I could tell she was a new mom. I’m not sure how we, as moms, recognize when one of our kind has just one newborn, but we know. This girl was young, probably 18-22, and the baby was so small, probably not even two months old. And she had that anxious, pained look on her face of a mom who is worried about too much at once.
“Is this your first?” I asked, my two own kids sitting politely (for once) in the stroller eating ice cream.
I smiled. “Are you getting any sleep?”
“A little,” she said. “It’s hard because my husband works off.”
God bless her. Parenting is hard enough with two parents who work normal hours. Those of you who are single parents or whose spouse works odd hours or away from home – that can make it harder.
“It gets better,” I said, nodding to The Engineer and The Artist. Again, they were being quite well behaved, and I wanted her to know – it does get better.
Because even in trials, there is beauty.
I remember when The Engineer busted her head open at the library (only my daughter could do that), and we scrambled to the doctor’s office, because the injury was not swelling out. I was – again – crying, The Engineer was screaming, and The Artist was leaning over, holding her sister’s hand, and singing, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Jesus Loves You” to her.
I remember when my dad passed away, and I was distraught. The Artist came up to me, patted my shoulder, and said, “It’s okay, Mama. I’m happy.” I laughed because I couldn’t help myself. She was 4 at the time.
I remember those long, oh, so long, nights feeding The Engineer in her room. I remember being so tired, but looking at her – and even looking at The Artist when I fed her during the 1 a.m. feedings – that made it all worthwhile. Holding those sweet baby hands. Cuddling the baby close. Kissing the baby hairs on top of their heads.
I remember drinking my coffee – after my children awoke. They are still so curious about my coffee because I won’t let them drink it. The Engineer pretends to lap it like a dog. The Artist, for the longest time, didn’t know what a coffee cup was. When someone showed her a picture of one, she said, “Coffee.” Because coffee went in there, and she just assumed the entire thing was coffee.
They are funny, vivacious, exhausting, sassy, and mine. They belong to me and Kyle, and every day is a new adventure.
It may be hard now, Mama. Or you may be in a stage where things are settling down for a spell. Either way, as my kids have just gotten older, I have discovered something oh so wonderful: it just keeps getting better.