Marks on the Wall

Motherhood

It’s crazy how much one little pencil line on the wall can mean to a person.

I finally started our measuring wall, in the laundry room, where it’s perfectly out of the way but at the same time, perfectly located so I get to see it every time I come in with a hamper or leave with a pile of folded clothes. Which is often, in my big busy family full of ALL boys. Every time I see it I am reminded of my blessings – and especially the fact that I finally have my own little life to track in pencil lines on the laundry room wall.

Growing up in my family, we always marked our height on the wall in the kitchen. Our tradition was shoes off, back against the wall, stand up straight, and mom would make the mark. Then our name and age – to track us. It was always such fun after we saw our new “marks” – comparing and wondering.

I had no idea that this simple tradition would mean so much more to me once I became a mom. In my own house, with my own little boy’s life to track. My little boy who just learned how to walk, and who understands enough to actually cooperate when I say, “Come here, Hank! Come stand by this wall for mama, we’re going to see how big you are!”

And he does. And I put that first beautiful mark on the wall and I almost don’t believe it’s really there.

There are five other marks on my wall now, too, that make it even more special. Hank’s three big brothers, who he looks up to (literally!) and tries so hard to keep up with, have their own lines and names higher up on the wall. And his sweet cousins, who we are so blessed to live right down the road from, are tracked by the other two marks on my wall. I have watched my niece and nephew grow up right before my eyes, the last 11 (and 7) years, and it always blows me away how fast they change.

With my own little one now, it is even harder! With Hank, it is like the movie is on fast-forward. Every day he does something major that he couldn’t do the day before. This week it was nodding his head yes and saying “yeah!” when I asked him if he wanted to go for a ride with Grandma.

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I’d flex, but I like these jammies

Another new thing this week is not fitting into his 24 month sized sleepers anymore. I am not quite ready for him to be sleeping in big boy jammies – so daddy and I cut the sleeves half off so we could get those huge paws and Popeye arms into them! That ought to buy me a few more weeks, anyway!

I am so excited to watch Hank’s mark catch up to those first marks of his three big brothers and his big cousins. Even though it will be way faster than I want it to be. And as soon as I can talk daddy into backing up to my wall, he will get the most important mark of all. I know without a doubt, that his will be the mark that all four boys can’t wait to catch up to. (Or maybe even beat by an inch or two!)

Walking Around With My Heart

Motherhood, Uncategorized

Today, after weeks of clumsy stutter-steps and tip-overs, my baby boy is walking. Walking. On his own. Across the kitchen, across the lawn, across the deck-all he wants to do now is walk. He reaches out his hand and squeaks at whoever is closest to him, as if to say, “Hey, you, help me get started!” Then he pops up on his chubby little feet, gets his balance, and he is off. Three, four, maybe six steps and then he flops back down onto his hands and knees, looks for the nearest person (or wall) to help him up, and he is off again.

All he wants to do all day is walk. And all I want him to do is curl up in his little muslin swaddling blanket and be three months old again, sleeping on my lap in my rocking chair.

So now I remember that anxious feeling I had for a few weeks once baby Hank was finally here last May. Seeing him actually walking now, not only do I miss my tiny baby, and the fact that he spent most of his time in my arms, but I even kind of miss being pregnant. In my tummy he had everything he needed-around the clock-and as long as he kept kicking me, I knew he was ok!

I loved being pregnant.  After so much time wondering if I was even able to get pregnant, I was half-surprised when I did, so I made it my mission to do everything just right! I ate a ton of healthy things so I could grow that big baby up healthy and strong. I stayed away from caffeine and my beloved nightly glass of wine. I slept as much as I could. I drank tons of water and took all my vitamins. And I felt like in my safe, huge tummy I could make sure he was alright, because I could make all those choices for him. Control freak? Yep! You bet I am, but I own it 100%!

The tiny part of me that doesn’t want him to be walking yet is that same part who was terrified once he entered the big scary world. He spent most of his first week of life in a plastic rolling bassinet parked under blue UV lights with goggles on-because he was so jaundiced-and I know for a fact I cried as much as he did that week. I couldn’t pick him up to soothe him other than when he needed fed; his daddy and I just had to sit by his little “bed” night and day. We tried to talk to him through his relentless screaming to let him know we were at least close by, until he fell asleep. We would crash right alongside him, grateful for a break from feeling sad for him. I couldn’t fix it for him, and it was the most horrible, helpless feeling I have ever experienced. I made up for those missed snuggles in the weeks that followed, but I still felt that same helplessness every time he went in for another of his million heel pokes to keep checking that bilirubin level.

Motherhood is hands-down, the most wonderful, scary, exciting, stressful, rewarding, and bittersweet thing I have ever experienced. I get it now-what all the other mothers meant when they told me about their own babies growing up. They told me it would feel like my heart would go walking around outside of my chest. All of a sudden, mine is, and it is terrifying.

I realize I can’t wrap the little tornado up in bubble wrap, but I sure wish I could!  I am thrilled for him and love nothing more than his proud little face and those adorable little squeals of both pride and frustration, but part of me is mourning, too. My baby boy is gone. And in his place-overnight-is a wild and crazy toddler. A TODDLER! And I better get my sneakers on, because this kid is about to hit the ground running. I just hope I can keep up!