Thursday, February 24, 2022

All He Wants is All of Me

 We sat on the porch of our rental beach house, just after my toddler had woken from his nap. He burrowed into my chest, took a deep breath, and listened to the sounds of the waves with me.

My husband looked up to make sure I was okay, that I was okay not putting together a puzzle with the rest of the group.  

And I was perfect.

He was right to check in with me, though.  

When I was a first-time mom, I definitely resented missing out on conversations, meals, games, the freedom of not having a child in my lap.  Though I’d wanted to be a mom for my entire life, I had not anticipated the crushing loneliness of being one of just a handful of friends who had a child. The rushing off to nurse or change a diaper or handle a tantrum wore on me. I felt like I’d lost a lot of myself, even while finding a new version of me.

Motherhood came more smoothly to me with our second, as I had some idea of what to expect. But no one could prepare me for the exhaustion that comes with chasing a toddler and handling a cheerful infant who simply won’t sleep.  I remain convinced that I did not get REM sleep for the first 18 months of my daughter’s life.  

I’m grateful that my husband still remembers those more challenging moments in parenting for me. He may have shared in the sleepless nights, but our children have always needed me more during their waking hours. I don’t know if that will always be true, but it’s our current reality. I am the one who has given up time with friends and family, and as someone who leans towards being an introvert, that sense of missing out took me by surprise.  When I had to step away from social events, I resented the loss.

With our third child, though, everything has shifted.  With our first, I didn’t know how to be a mom, at all. With our second, I was struggling with my own sense of self as I became absorbed by motherhood and also faced the loss of my own mom.  

Our third is the youngest by four-and-a-half years. No one other child is in diapers. The older children can be reasoned with and talked back into bed in the middle of the night. My oldest even asks for more and more time with his friends.

For the first time, I feel like I can simply enjoy being a mama to a toddler who needs me so completely.  

That evening on the porch, he pulled my arms closer around his body. I kissed the top of his head and realized that all he wants is all of me.  

And I have that available to give.

At times, I feel a sense of guilt that this baby is getting a completely different version of me than my older children.  I’ll always be learning about new stages and phases with my oldest. My daughter is the middle child, having to learn patience between two brothers. 

With my youngest, I’m more comfortable with being a mom, with saying no to an evening out or an event that isn’t toddler friendly.  I see friends taking extended child-free vacations, and while I know I’ll get back to those someday, I would rather be around my kids, especially a toddler who is changing day-by-day.  I don’t want to miss any of his new words, new skills, or the moments of joy throughout his day. I want his hugs as much as he wants me to sing him to sleep each night.

All he wants is all of me, and I’m happy to hold him close and give him the attention he needs. 

I’m grateful that I’ve finally found the rhythm of being a toddler mom and let this sweet boy crawl into my lap for as long as he needs.

We sat on the porch of our rental beach house, just after my toddler had woken from his nap. He burrowed into my chest, took a deep breath, and listened to the sounds of the waves with me.

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