Is it here already? Is my son honestly four years old today?
I can remember very clearly my first few months of motherhood.
It was exciting... and exhausting.
I didn't bond with my child right away the way I assumed I would, though. Our relationship felt awkward, different, strained... it was so bizarre to have a creature attached to me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Diapers were a mystery. Every sniffle made my heart race. And the fact that my baby was colicky and literally would sleep 20 minutes or so and then be up--screaming--for 4-5 hours didn't help.
I prayed that he would settle down, but it took about six months for him to sleep for any significant periods of time. And forget about naps. He never needed 'em, never indulged me in regular snippets of time off.
It was a full-time job staying alert while trying to run a household. I thought a lot about myself in those days, pitifully (and vainly) wanting an escape. Not surprisingly, I wound up feeling guilty because I wasn't spending enough time being the "perfect", "unselfish" mommy.
But that was long ago and far away, as someone once said.
Now, we're here. The landscape has changed forever. We've made it through The Dark Ages to the Light of Tomorrow.
This morning, he's diligently playing with new toys, courtesy of his nana.
He's not shrieking and he's not forcing himself upon my lap. He's coming into his own and it's remarkable to witness. I try to guide him without crushing his spirit, attempt to discipline him without squelching his esteem.
In the midst of all this parenting madness, I've become a somewhat-successful freelance writer.
I'm able to help support our family by manipulating words into sentences, paragraphs, stories, ideas. At times, I still feel twinges of guilt, sitting here at my laptop. But I think it's important to show my son that if you persevere, you can achieve some measure of success. He doesn't quite "get" that yet, but I believe he will.
To my special guy on The Big Four, I wish you continued happiness and fulfillness. I hope you never experience a moment of regret, an ounce of self doubt. May no relationships beat you down, only lift you up. And may you choose your career based on your heart, not your wallet.
I love you, sweetie. You're the best.