This is my response to
My dearest child,
This is our second Mother’s Day. You haven’t the foggiest idea what that means yet, except that Daddy will give you a pen and ask you to draw all over my card, which you will do with great care and enthusiasm. Because that’s what Mother’s Day means: it means I’m part of a family.
Before you were born, for all those months that I carried you in my womb, we were a family. Your Daddy and I laid our hands together on my stomach to feel your hiccups. We worked together to prepare you a room, and we went to classes to learn about your arrival. My body did the hardest work of growing, but your Daddy was always there to keep me (and you) close.
The day you came into this world, the moment we met, I smiled and told your Daddy to follow you to the nursery. His bare chest comforted you; his heartbeat soothed you. You came to me an hour later, tiny and pink, and I was astonished—how could something this amazing have come from me? Your Daddy helped me carefully hold you, carefully bring your tiny head to my breast.
Your first few weeks, we learned together how this family would work. My milk fed you, but your father and I shared the journey of staying up with you late at night when you didn’t understand the difference between night and day. I learned to pump milk so that others could nourish you in my absence.
Soon, you started to take a bottle with ease, and I rejoiced to watch you snuggle with your father and your grandparents. I read you books and played with your toys—and so did they. We all watched together as you learned to focus, learned to smile, learned to reach, learned to roll. It was always you, and me, and our family.
After six weeks, I went back to work part-time, trading shifts with your father. We woke at night together when you stirred, he to change your diaper, I to offer food to soothe your rumbly tummy. I remember snuggling in the quiet night with you, alone in the darkness. I also remember the nights when you would not sleep, when I cried and your Daddy came out to take over.
And then, you began to sleep through the night. You no longer needed me in the darkest hours and I rejoiced.
I rejoiced because it was never about you and me, and how you needed me. It was about you. About you growing, gaining independence. Watched and loved by two parents.
You need me now much less than you did in that first year. You run on your own, and you wiggle away when I try to hold you tight. Someday your father and I won’t need to change your diapers, or pick out your clothes, or slice your food up into bite-size pieces. Someday you’ll be reading on your own, truly reading and not just the nonsense syllables you make now as you turn the pages for yourself. You have grown so much, and I am so proud.
It was never just you and me, and we are all the more blessed for it. You have learned that many people provide safety and comfort, and you have learned that Mommy and Daddy always, always come back. You are making friends at daycare, and I delight in the joy that shows in your face as you run around together.
So this Mother’s Day, our second Mother’s Day, I am going to sleep in. I am going to take Daddy up on his offer to watch you all day. I don’t know what I’ll do yet with that time—maybe I’ll have lunch with a friend, or go shopping, or just curl up at home with a book. Because I know that I need that break, and that I’ll be a better wife and mother for it. Because I know your face will light up when I come back, just as it lights up when Daddy comes home from work.
Because I know you will always be my baby, even when I’m not around.