Our youngest, who was 10 months old at the time, was on the verge of taking his first steps. He would bounce up and down, standing holding on to my husbands hands – his beefy fists each grasping one of his daddy’s fingers, his toothy grin wide and the drool flowing. He was so excited about his new found skill and so anxious to practice. After his little ritual of dancing around, he would stand stoic and serious, ready for take off. My husband would remove his fingers and Fletcher would stand, alone, grinning at his audience and one time, after many tries and attempts, he did it. Chubby little feet moved forward, awkwardly jilting, the four steps it took to get to me.
The clearest part in my mind, though, isn’t that little boy making this big milestone. While that was really exciting (and terrifying, because… a walking 10 month old?! Not ideal.) – the part that sticks out in my mind the most is the pride and joy I felt watching his siblings watch him.
All three of them, two big brothers and one big sister, were huddled around, watching intently. “He’s doing it!” “He’s walkin’!” “Mama! Mama! Pletchah is our big boy! He can walk!” “Go Fletcher!” “Oh mama, I’m just so proud of him.” Their shining eyes, hands clasped expectantly and their jumps and boisterous cheers, which were shortly followed by
tackling hugging their baby brother – these are the things I remember most. These are the triumphs I never expected.
Before I became a mom, I had many ideas about what it would look like. I would have my sweet little baby who would be the perfect companion during the day, joining me on jaunts to Target and mother and baby classes – always napping when convenient and generally charming everyone we came into contact with. Sure, there would be some crying, but it would easily be soothed with nursing or a pacifier.
I’m sure you can tell where this is going. My first born was incredibly high needs. She spent her first year and a half either latched on or screaming, and to this day doesn’t like to be away from me if she has a choice (she’s almost five). There was a lot (a lot) of crying in the car (from both of us), many endless nights spent Googling “my baby won’t sleep” and “separation anxiety” as well as talks with more experienced mothers about what I could or should be doing differently.
Motherhood has been full of the unexpected for me: unexpected struggles, unexpected joys. The joy itself is not a surprise, at all. Where it seeps in the quickest, though continues to shock me.
The first time my daughter dropped my hand to walk into children’s church confidently, without tears or fear. When my son saw that our tiny baby was crying, so went over and patted his belly and sang a little made up song. That time I felt like I was 30 seconds from four simultaneous meltdowns in the grocery store and an older gentleman tells me, “What great kids you’ve got there!” When in the play place at “Chicken Flay” my son invites another child to play with them, unprompted. The tears in my eyes as my son prays for his late great grandma to be happy in Heaven. The joy when my baby gives his big brother a kiss unprompted.
All of these – these are the memories of motherhood I will carry on. These are the triumphs I never expected.