To know my son is to love my son (it gets better)

It took me a long time to get to love my baby boy.  Unlike some moms, I was not engulfed by feelings of love the minute he entered the world.  And not because he tried to kill me (I don’t hold that against him).  Sure I felt something, I think, though in hindsight it is hard to remember.  Any feeling I had was completely overwhelmed by how much he needed me.  Nursing 24/7, colic, a disdain for sleep that he carries with him today – he was a high maintenance baby.  Or maybe I was a high maintenance mom who had just spent my entire pregnancy doing what I wanted when I wanted.

In any event, his dependence on me was crushing.

You might be shaking your head right now, little Miss “I-Have-All-The-Answers” and “it’s-all-so-simple.”  You probably think this was my doing.  That somehow I made him this way.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But I have seen enough first time moms at this point to realize something was off.  Not everyone had as hard of a time as we did – me and Gavin.

It’s true!

Now that he is 3, I realize he is just a particular person.  He likes things just so.  Without being able to communicate those preferences, I can imagine infant-hood was like prison for him.  These days, he communicates like a champ.  We can talk about things, I can reason with him, and we can generally come to a mutually acceptable agreement on any matter (except why he can’t have Italian Ices for breakfast).

And the fact of the matter is, I adore him.  My heart explodes with unconditional love at some point almost every day.  Making him laugh is like a drug to me.  His hugs warm my heart and soul.  Hearing his enthusiasm while singing invigorates me.  Watching him overcome a fear inspires me.

The beauty of wonder

One of our favorite things to do before bed is watch one of the HBO “Classical Baby” series.  Typically it’s the Art Show or Classical Baby 2.  On a rare but delightful occasion we watch The Poetry Show.  The last poem, narrated by my dear dear stalking target friend Gwyneth Paltrow, brings tears to my eyes each and every time.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

It took us some time, but our bond is air tight.

Love – pure and simple

Even when he drinks all my orange juice:

Let me tell you, this was a treat for me during Father’s Day brunch. An orange juice in NYC can cost more than $5! For a small! Please applaud my restraint here.

So to any new moms out there who might be struggling with this parenting thing I can assure you of three things:

1.  You are NOT alone; and

2.  All the pain you are enduring is SO worth it; because

3.  It gets so much better!

My forever baby love

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21 thoughts on “To know my son is to love my son (it gets better)

  1. At some point we have to talk about GP and GOOP and all that, but for now, let’s talk Gavin. I had a similar issue with my son, who is my second. I struggled to match my nascent feelings for him with my already-entrenched feelings for Sadie and it felt HORRIBLE and SICK not to have the depth of feeling for him. How could I? BUt I still thought I should? Ick. I hate thinking about how hard it is. And Simon and I are now airtight even if he can’t say “mama” but can say “popsicle” and “costco” and “cupcake.” Whatevs. He’s my dude and even though he hates sleeping, I miss him when he does because I want to hug him and poke his little cheeks.
    LOVE IT!

  2. Okay- I’m not sure I ever admitted this but I was a little freaked out when my son was born. It wasn’t so much for how I felt but more about how I thought he felt! He stared at me with this very intense look that shouted “Who are you and why are YOU here?” It seemed like he was disappointed.

    It was weird…… but I’ve never been disappointed. I love him more every day and I hope he’s forgotten who he was expecting!

    • You know, this post isn’t exactly timely (he’s 3!) but it just felt like something in the air needed to be said. I hope everyone has that instant amazing bond but I just wanted to remind those of us that didn’t (me) – or couldn’t quite figure it out – that it’s ok too. It grows by leaps and bounds.

  3. I think boys are just tough as babies anyway. Did he need to be held all the time like mine did? Ugh. I was so grateful when my daughter was born and didn’t want to be held every second. It took me awhile to figure my son out too, but mostly, it was probably just figuring out me. ;) And I’m still working on all of that (he’s 9).

    • Needed to be held ALL.THE.TIME. Yes, we’ve commented on our bounce bounce songs. And you are right – a lot of it has to do simply with the shift in your own identity (which I’m still working on too!).

  4. You made me cry. But I forgive you because this post was so worth it. Thank you for being honest all the time – for telling others it’s okay to be frustrated and it’s not always perfect. What fabulous pictures of a mommy and her boy her are so obviously in love. :)

  5. I so wish I had had this post when my babies were born. My son was easy, but my daughter (they’re twins) was just like Gavin. It was hideous. But now she is the love of my life. Still a pain in the ass, but the love of my life. Loved this post!

  6. Amen. I’ve gotten looks of horror when I describe these early months of being with my baby boy as bondage rather than bonding. Bondage is one-sided enslavement, while bonding implies mutual admiration. I adore my son, but when I feel like he couldn’t care less about ME being his mommy, and more about me being a scarce natural resource of boob and being held constantly, it can be hard to feel “bonded.” Thank goodness he sleeps at night…it’s mantra I constantly repeat when I am tempted to use earplugs to block out his neediness!

    • I get it. I was worried too, pregnant with my second and dreading those first 6 weeks/3 months/9 months. But things were really different with my second. Every mom is different, every child is different – but you might have that immediate attachment this time around. Or you might not (but look what they become!). It is possible.

  7. I love your blog, Carinn:) And just to chime in for a few fathers out there… I remember when my wife went into labor with Ella, our 1st, I was so excited I was bouncing off the walls (until Dr. Dread pulled out the forceps!). But I was not prepared for what happened next. She was the perfect baby; pink and chubby and smiley. While I had expectations of feeling all warm and fuzzy, 24-7, I actually felt a sense of distance. And that turned to guilt and worry. The only thing that girl needed was her mommy. But surely I was needed more than just providing a few little swimmers. And then, around 6 months later, she looked at me, really “looked” at me. And everything changed in an instant. #2 was even harder because Link was born early and spent some time in the NICU, but I was more prepared. And #3, well, be careful what you ask for… Penny came out and has been a daddy’s girl from day 1. At almost 2 years old, she screams when I walk in the door until I pick her up, and she screams when I put her down and leave. It’s exhausting!!!

    • Thanks Rowdy! So refreshing to hear the dad’s perspective. Though I come to the table loaded down with the expectations of a new mother, your comment reminds us that dads experience so many of the same feelings as they enter this new chapter in life. It makes sense that the adjustment can be just as confusing and disorienting for the guys. So glad you chimed in (especially since Ian rarely admits to any of this stuff!)!