Baby J just turned 6 months old. In some ways it’s all a blur, and in other ways I am holding on to each moment more than I ever have before. It’s been a wonderful 6 months full of baby snuggles, gummy smiles, sibling love, and…….sleepless nights. A lot of sleepless nights. I kept hoping things would get better, that he would just figure it out. He didn’t. It finally became clear to me and my husband that we had to do some formal sleep teaching with J. He was a mess, and we (especially me) were a mess. It was time to make a change. “Let’s start tonight,” my husband said as we talked about it one afternoon. He was ready to tackle it head on. I, on the other hand, wasn’t quite there yet. I told him I wasn’t ready.
I wasn’t ready because I needed to say goodbye. I needed to say goodbye to feeling him fall asleep in my arms. I needed to say goodbye to the way he would turn his little head into the crook of my arm nestling in to wait for sleep. I needed to say goodbye to hearing his sweet little baby breaths deepen signaling to me he had finally given in to sleep. I needed to say goodbye to the dance I would do across his room each night, that soft slow baby shuffle while he rested peacefully in my arms. I needed to let go of the idea that I was teaching him not to need me. It was just the two of us in the quiet darkness. Nothing else mattered in those moments. As weary as my body, mind, and heart were from months of not sleeping, it was still a privilege to be needed. That’s motherhood though, isn’t it? You can feel absolutely depleted, and yet you still show up. And I did. Every night. My body would literally ache with the weight of him in my arms, but I still wasn’t ready to let all that go.
Are we ever really ready to say goodbye to the seasons that seem to last forever but that end so quickly? The last glimpse of the baby grin before the first tooth falls out. The last time we watch them ride their bikes with training wheels. The last time they leave the “s” out in “star” and “stop.” The last time they let us hold their hand to walk them into school. The last time we tie their shoes. The last time we pick them up and carry them. The last time we hold them in our laps. We can sense that these phases are coming to an end, but we never really get to say goodbye. Instead life spits us out of a new chute into a new phase that is equally wonderful but different all the same.
It turns out the side of life with a baby who sleeps is a good one. I like where this chute has made me land, but I would by lying if I said that a part of me didn’t miss those nights. I gave so much to him during that time, and now I’m starting to take some of that back and give it to myself, my husband, my other children. In a way it feels kind of strange and unfamiliar like many new phases do. Motherhood is constant dance of giving, letting go, and finding a way to give again. It’s a lesson in digging in, losing your footing, and then finding it again elsewhere. Thank goodness for the little (and not so little) ones who show us how to do that. They are the best teachers.
Find the joy,