It was my first night home with my new baby boy. I’d been in the hospital for a week, and I was exhausted. You know that new mom exhaustion? The- wow-I-can’t-believe-I-ever-thought-I-was-tired-before-this-please-hook-me-up-to-an-IV-of-coffee- tired? I was that. And a hormonal, emotional mess. I’d had a tough pregnancy, a tough induction, and a tough delivery. I wanted to sleep, but my little man would only settle if he was being held. My mom scooped him out of my arms, turned off the light in his nursery, sat in the rocking chair, and sang to him. I sat on the floor, unable to go to my room until I was sure he was settled. ” I just need to make sure Max is OK,” I told her.
“Nic, go to bed. I’ve got him. I promise, I’ll bring him in as soon as he needs you. ” My mom rocked, baby boy was quiet and content, and I got some (desperately needed) rest. My mom sat with him for hours, until he needed to nurse. It was the middle of the night, but she didn’t mind at all.
I get it now. Just as I was worried about my baby, she was worried about hers.
I left Max overnight for the first time fifteen months later, when I was in labor with his baby brother, James. My mom took an entire semester off from teaching and flew from New York to Canada to take care of baby #1 while I had baby #2. Because my anxiety was out of control, I texted her regularly throughout the middle of the night to make sure Max was OK. Each time, she responded immediately. I still have our text thread on my phone.
“Just checking in. Is Max OK? Make sure the covers aren’t by his face.”
“He’s fine. Don’t worry. How are you?”
“Why are you up? I’m fine. In pain but fine.”
“Couldn’t sleep. It’s nerve wracking when your kid is in the hospital.”
I get it now.
When we were younger, my sisters and I used to joke about who was our mom’s favorite. She’d always say that she didn’t have a favorite, that she loved us all equally. We’d reply that was impossible; she had to favor one of us just a little bit more. I just had my third baby, a sweet little girl named Ava.
So, I get it now. I get how you really, truly can have equal room in your heart for three very different little people.
I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to love my kids as much as my husband and I do, but now, watching them with their Grammy, I’m second guessing that thought. My mom, the registered dietician and nutrition professor, the Mom who made us eat whole wheat bread before whole wheat bread was a “thing”, now carries a ziplock bag of Dum-Dums lollipops in her purse for the kids. She volunteers to drive them all over Westchester County so they can sleep in the car and have a decent nap. When my kids sleepover her house, she kicks my dad out of their bed and lets those two ninja toddlers kick her in the kidneys all night so they won’t miss their mommy.
I get it now. It’s in a Mom to love everything her kids make, from preschool finger paintings to little humans.
There are so many things that I get now that I’m a mom. I get wanting nothing more than for your kids to be happy, even if you have to make sacrifices for it. I get truly meaning it when you say “I wish it was me instead of you” to your sick-with-the-stomach-bug kid. I get being painfully tired, but still getting up in the middle of the night without hesitation when someone calls for mommy. I get that thinking that every single thing your kids do is hilarious/adorable/share worthy. I get that it doesn’t matter if your baby is 3 or 30, they’re always your baby.
I get it now.