We celebrated her first birthday on Sunday.
Our 4th little miracle, a bundle of sweet Christmas joy, now growing into a little lady.
And I see it so much more clearly now than ever before.
I’ve been a mom for 8 1/2 years. And I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed! Sometimes I feel like it’s been ages, other times it feels like a blink and I’ve missed it.
There’s the saying that with your first you learn it, the second you practice it, and any of the rest you know it. Looking back over the years I’d say that is a very true statement! Though I think even more that I have learned the most with our 4th baby.
See, in the beginning, I read a LOT about babies and raising them. And I relied too much on what I was reading, and not enough on the advice of others I knew. This was more because we were very much the first of our friends to be married and have kids, so I didn’t know many people my age whom I could ask these questions of. So I read a lot – too much especially from this one particular book – and didn’t listen very well to my instinct.
On our second night home from the hospital, based on the advice we’d read, we let our little boy “cry it out” in his crib when he awoke too soon after a feed. It tears at my heart every time I think about it, knowing now what I didn’t know then. We “sleep-trained” him very early on, determined that he would be a good sleeper. I was adamant also that he would not be attached to his soother, petrified we’d have to break him of it much later on. As it turns out, he gave it up on his own at 6 months – right around the time he started sleeping through the night.
He was a tough baby, but probably not much more so than most first borns, as both parents and baby are figuring out this new relationship between themselves and just how exactly it’s all supposed to work. Though I have some regrets – like making him wait an extra 10 minutes to feed because it hadn’t been a full 3 hours just yet. I struggle to keep down the tears as I think of the snuggles and comfort I didn’t give when he may have needed it most.
Our next baby was a total opposite child – very calm, and sleeping through the night at 6 weeks. There was no more desperation when it came to the sleep thing since it came so naturally, but we still let him cry. Our third, a baby girl, was also a good sleeper earlier on.
Now the fourth? A whole other story. She never slept solidly or consistently until 9 months, when we moved her out of our room (yes, finally!) we wanted to wait until she slept better, but finally gave up) and she immediately slept a solid 12 hours! Go figure!
But the biggest difference, what I finally learned and listened to, was that when she awoke in the middle of the night (though it may have been sooner than I wanted, and I was absolutely exhausted from a full day and just wanted to sleep) instead of letting her cry it out and wait, I would pick her up and comfort her.
Because, you see, babies cry when they need to be comforted. But we often attribute it to them being cranky or fussy or needy. And yes, often that’s the case. But what they need more than training is your love.
I know you’re tired, dearest Mom. I know you’re just barely making it through some of those days. But think back over the last little while. See how fast it all has passed? And each day, month, year, passes much faster than the next. Too soon they’re grown and the snuggles become fewer and fewer.
The opportunities to pray over their small heads in your arms, to comfort and soothe their aching tummies, pass all too quickly, and they’re running, jumping, learning, growing, spreading, stretching their wings.
So listen to your gut. Go with your instinct. God made you a GOOD mom! You know what to do, and picking that sweet little bundle up when they cry is NOT wrong, and it’s NOT going to damage them for life. It will, however, make time stand still for you as you drink in their smells, absorb their warmth and radiate love into their hearts forever. It’s a gift, a joy, this being able to be a mom.
Dear tired mom: savour the snuggles. For all too soon those moments are gone. Find joy in the fatigue, and give praise for the prayers that have been answered.