After an evening of non stop fussing, I ease up on the frequency of the rhythm of my rocking and glance, no… minimally peek at my new baby. As soon as I do, her eyes flutter open. And the rocking continues. I dance this way with her for a solid thirty minutes.
After getting her to accept bed time, I go to check on her older sisters. As soon as I walk in the room my oldest one stirs, as though she feels my presence. The younger one coughs. I freeze.
This is my normal with them.
I have come to realize that even as they get older, we are connected to each other intrinsically. My oldest often asks me how I always know where she is hiding, “I’m your mom, I just do,” I tell her.
I know when they’re sad. I know when they’re hungry. I know when they need to tell me something. And I always, always, know these things much sooner than they do.
This is motherhood. It’s coming to know someone even better than you know yourself at times. It’s finding a new sense of love, and purpose. One that is directly related to being “mother.”
It’s learning that outside of this, not much else matters (I mean that with so much love).
Having our third baby, I knew I was seasoned enough to move through the newborn phase with at least a little confidence in myself. I know, for sure, that babies truly do revolve around eating, diapers, naps, and cuddles. The caveat is that sometimes you’re not going to see results from the cuddles…your arm might get stuck in a certain position, or you might find that you’re standing up bouncing on the balls of your feet for a solid 30 minutes because that is what keeps baby happy.
But I digress.
What I did not expect, was that this baby would break open my heart in a completely new and unexpected way.
Hear me right: I LOVE my older two girls and walking into motherhood as their mom has been one of my favorite things in this life.
But this time around has been something special.
I’m finding that making time to just soak up the here and now has become increasingly important to me as I’m getting older, although it’s so much easier said than done.
With all of the distractions that life throws at you, feeling what you’re feeling right when you’re feeling it, well… it takes practice and intention.
There’s no better time to practice it, and no better chapter in ones life than when adding a new family member.
When I first started making the mental journey to be more present with myself it was to feel more joy. But as it turns out, being more present actually opened the door for me to be more honest with myself about when I was not feeling joy or happiness.
The dynamic in our home has shifted dramatically since adding our third child, and with that comes growing pains. This is something I expected and have made sure to remind myself of as often as possible.
I truly love the little people my daughters are growing into, but having a “fresh slate” opened my eyes. I have found myself looking back at our journey this far with a different sense of criticism. I looked back and found a bit more wasted time than I expected.
I don’t want to waste any time not noticing the light in baby girls eyes. Because although it sticks around for some years, there comes a day where she will come home with a tiny dash of something else and it damn near breaks your heart.
I refuse to waste time holding resentments over tiny things like changing diapers and who sleeps more or less between my husband and I. Instead, I look at each diaper change as an opportunity to make my baby smile and laugh. Each time I wake up to feed her is a private moment where the outside world fades away and it’s just us two for a few minutes.
I don’t waste time in overthinking whether I am holding her too much, or spoiling her by picking her up when she wants me to, because I know from experience that teaching children how to love is one of the most important parts of this entire gig.
I don’t waste my time trying to put off my self care. Instead, I eat when I’m hungry, and rest when I’m tired. I ask for help in the moment I need it. And for the love of God, I don’t clean when I don’t want to.
Six years ago I was unable to take responsibility for what I wanted or needed, and I would secretly hold anger towards my husband each time he didn’t read my mind. This time, I know only I am in control of me. And while my husband and I joke that we live in each other’s minds, I know he can only know exactly what I need from him if I tell him.
Long ago, I heard the quote “you make time for the things that matter, you make excuses for the things that don’t.”
I believe that, fully. And have decided to treat my interactions and moments with these girls like they matter as deeply as they do.
So when I say having my third baby broke my heart open, it doesn’t mean that she is the “favorite.” It means that she is the one that made me realize that while it’s okay to be human and to feel frustration, stress, or worry. It’s not okay to live there and forget that these moments are fleeting.
The time I get to spend being a mama to three little girls, with all of its imperfections and messiness is still the most precious time of my life.
A time I cannot take for granted.
Knowing this and taking responsibility for it is priceless.