My son had barely taken his first breath before it started…
”Don’t you just LOVE newborns?”
“The newborn phase is the *best*!”
While I’ve loved my son in an amount that can only be quantified as “infinite” since before he was born, I’ve always felt guilty for my harsh response to those raving about the newborn stage. “Umm, no.” I chirp back. “He is a loud, potato-esque blob who only eats, sleeps, and poops. He is boring and complicated and needy in a way that is not even remotely rewarding. My body has been through incredible trauma, looks different than before, and hurts. Oh, and did I mention I’m exclusively pumping so I’m hooked up to a pump like a cow at a dairy farm 20 times a day?”
I’d once debated with a friend that a newborn isn’t a baby. We surmised that newborns exist on a primordial plane that defies all logic. Every time I gazed at his sweet, chubby infant cheeks, I yearned for some meaningful reaction. A glimpse into his personality to tell me there was substance behind this adorable blob.
As my child lurched closer to the 12-month mark, he gradually became less of a blob and more of a fun, interactive tiny human spilling over with personality. I finally started to feel the joyous feeling that I’d always pictured when I thought of motherhood. I eagerly shared the fun milestones he hit, like rolling or walking or crawling, with anyone who would listen. All I’d get in response is, “Oh sure, you may be excited now, but just wait until…”
Society, I abruptly learned, acts like every developmental step should be feared; as if his growth towards independence is some sort of inconvenience in my life. Instead, I have always taken these milestones as validation that I’m rocking this whole mom thing just fine. Every middle-of-the-night pumping session was worth it. He and I both giggle with delight as he has learned to navigate the old wooden stairs in our home. I beam with pride as that tiny toddler tyrant learns to rearrange my once carefully styled bookshelves. I smirk when he hurtles one of the dog’s tennis balls across the house and squeals as the dogs gently give him chase.
Just a few weeks ago, I stood in my front yard with my husband and 16-month old son as we worked to transform our home into a cheerful holiday display. I watched as my toddler scaled a 6-foot ladder with startling ease and felt a well-timed kick from my unborn second son who will be joining our family in the spring. I caught my mind wandering to this time next year when there will be two loud, active boys hurling cheerios and chasing our chickens around the yard. I find myself already relishing that the fun I’ve gotten myself into is going to double in the coming months, even if I do have to read through an awkward, tiresome newborn chapter to get there.
I know we may not all agree on the best parts of this messy, fun, sometimes chaotic journey that is parenthood, but may we all find our own bliss in each new stage.