I love babies. I adore holding them, smelling them, and talking to them. They are such a wonderment to me and I am fond of keeping their company. I’ve always known this about myself and was not surprised at the deep love I instantly felt for our son.
What I didn’t used to know is how much I would take delight in being the mom of a toddler.
While I’ve had my share of scares, frustrations, and discouragements, I’m genuinely enjoying this time in our lives. Part of my surprise probably stems from the fact that I’ve always had a hard time imagining myself as the mom of a full-fledged person. Most of my “pre-mommy” daydreaming was about the newborn infant I would love and care for. I was unprepared for how quickly he would develop interests and preferences. For some reason, I also never considered how much fun I would have with the personality he developed or the joy I would experience from engaging in certain activities with him.
There are so many moments and attributes I have come to appreciate and love about our son. I work hard to cherish these snippets as I know they will diminish all too quickly. I also worry that I might forget precious circumstances like the way my lips fit precisely on the bridge of his nose between his eyes. Were we made this way or do those sweet pecks and my emotions make it feel like perfection? Either way, I love kissing my son on the top of his nose while his eyes flutter shut.
Although hearing his cry for the first time literally took my breath away, there is nothing that melts my heart more than hearing him intentionally communicating through a screech, wail, whisper, groan, or cheer, “mama.” Nothing.
Our son has a deep voice for the little body that produces it and his “mama” call makes me feel proud, loved, needed, and capable of anything. I was not prepared for the power of that word or the way it washes over my soul.
His genuine giggle sits right up there with hearing my endearment and if I could capture one sound to remain with me eternally, I think his deep belly laugh would be it. He not only laughs when being chased or tickled but also when we do. Sharing those hilarious moments with him makes them even more funny and it’s a wonderful feeling to receive daily doses of merriment. That laugh has developed from his infant, chipmunk like chuckle and he continues to change and amaze us.
Our son, just like many babies, physically grew at an almost indescribable pace during his first year of life. I muse over his newborn photos because the images are clearly him, yet he looks nothing like that baby now. He keeps us on our toes and his morphing has become more intellectual. He knows words I was unaware he had ever heard and I’ve become a genius at decrypting his jargon. He is so joyous when I recognize “tay-toe” as potato and “caka” as cracker. I love it when he tells me the sounds of animals even if “cats” were only referred to as “meow” for a while. He will also start randomly naming colors or counting and he will sometimes tell full stories even though only two or three words are recognizable.
He is also grasping concepts and developing his independence. He not only knows what he likes and needs but he can articulate those desires. He grows tired of repeat food options and he has an uncanny ability to know if he is laid in his bed or ours after falling into a deep sleep. He is capable of alleviating his discomforts and decisive enough to elicit attention or assistance from the parent who will most likely adhere to his wishes. Believe me, there are lines that will only be crossed by mama and times when daddy is the only one who can help! (Mama’s heart can be instantly melted by the middle of the night whimpers and it is more fun to ride with daddy in the car!)
Something that has climbed to to the top of his appreciation list is music and he rarely passes up the opportunity to dance with a song. In imitation and shared delight, I can’t help but move my body and appreciate his non-judgement of my awkwardness. Like most children, he loves to hear rhythm and he will sometimes fabricate his own musical composition through singing. From his carseat he will hum or fully sing a tune. Often, it is his own creation and while listening I’m reminded to carry a song in my heart, as well. He beams when I thank him for his contribution and it is often with happy tears that I tell him how wonderful he sounds. I truly mean it and he knows.
Today, our hearts are tethered together and he still fits on my chest when we snuggle. It is so hard for me to imagine him as a grown man, too big for my lap and less needing of my physical embrace. I don’t take for granted the nights when he falls asleep in my arms or when he needs a kiss for his “bonked” head. I hurt when he does and relish in the times when he tries something new and succeeds. I know I will miss his raw but intentional works of art and requests for “hep” while pulling on his shirt. I am grateful when I get to breath in his scent while his wispy curls brush my face. It is precious when he escorts daddy to the door for work in the morning and indescribably uplifting when I receive my nightly “leg bear-hug.”
He will eventually become totally independent of me and while I will be proud of his capableness; I will surely be reflecting on the times when I was “mama” and could fit my lips perfectly on his nose between his fluttering eyes.
As our toddler today and grown son later, I unconditionally love him with my entire being and this is something I wish for him to always know.
Professional photos by the talented Sommer Grogan at BOKA Images.
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