Time Is a Thief.

My boy is six months old and twenty-eight inches long and nineteen pounds and his pediatrician said, while motioning to my five-foot-nothing frame: “No one will ever believe this boy is yours.”

I looked down at him, dimpled thighs and rubberband wrists and four or five chins, and did a double take. How have we gotten here, so far from that scrawny little parcel with two slow-blinking eyes and a tentative bird-like mouth that he pressed to my cheek just minutes after being born in what felt like a hundred tiny, perfect kisses? I remember staring up at the ceiling of the operating room with tears streaming down my face, right into his little chick mouth, feeling increasingly uncomfortable from the awkward angle of my arm, which was hungrily clutching his seven-pound body to my face during the second half of the surgery, but I remained recalcitrantly unwilling to so much as shift a finger. I needed him there, his little form ensconced in my embrace. Don’t move an inch, I remember thinking. Just stay like this. Breathe in and out. He is here / he is mine / he is here / he is mine. Oh!!!

For the past many months, when he was ready for a nap, I would zip him into his sleepsack and rock him for a few minutes in his narrow nursery before depositing him into his crib, where he would drowsily flail around while I shook his legs back and forth, until the motion settled him and his eyes closed and I would tiptoe out of the room, often hurtling right into the next chore or task on my mind. I was always grateful for that second step in our put-down routine because my arms were routinely aching under the burden of his weight by the time the rocking portion was done.

But on or around Thanksgiving, at every nap, he would arch his back and fuss until I’d put him in his crib, on his stomach — suddenly and without warning his preferred sleeping position.

Oh, motherhood is an exquisite kind of pain.

Would you believe that I cried on Thanksgiving night when I placed him in his crib, on his tummy, cowing to his determination on this front, reluctantly adopting this unwelcome new routine? That I stared down at his form in wonderment and anguish, grieving the hundreds of mornings, noons, and nights I had passed rocking him in my arms, shuffling around that tiny nursery in what — in retrospect — appears to have been a continuous mother-son embrace punctuated only briefly by two-hour periods of alertness and separation?

I wiped the tears off my cheeks and attempted to channel my dad: “Keep moving forward. Don’t look back.” My boy is strong and healthy and in many ways having him on the other side of six months should be a cue for tears of relief. We are through the sleeplessness, the precariousness, the newborn anxieties. I have several friends with just-born infants and when I check in with them via text, I am chastened by their exhaustion-riddled musings and concerns and frustrations because their experiences are familiar to me but the sharpness of their contours has eroded. And I have to remind myself that being out of that haze is a blessing, too, especially because I promised myself I would never forget what it felt like.

But — how can I not feel robbed?

My boy, grown too long and too large to enjoy being cradled in my too-small arms.

Time is a burglar–a practiced one. It will steal the tiniest of tendernesses right out from underneath you. It works surreptitiously, under the cover of distraction, so that one random Thursday you might zip up the sleepsack and go to nestle your baby into the crook of your arm only to be caught by surprise, the comfort of your routine filched at some indiscriminate point between 2 and 4 p.m. that afternoon.

Time, my friends, is a thief.

Post Scripts.

+I wrote about a beloved velvet Misa dress in yesterday’s postthis $23 style is a pretty solid dupe!

+Some of the fresh heartache that went into writing this post was elicited by the recent packing and stowing of many of Hill’s baby clothes. I am weepy at the sight of this bunny suit, which he barely wore at all, but which I purchased for him while massively pregnant and massively uncomfortable. Oh!

+Firsts and lasts.

+Fellow Mid-Atlantic lovers: this is a must for your tree this year.

+This velvet puffer is so fun! Would love to wear this home for the holidays!

+The incongruous emotions of motherhood.

+A pretty dress option that could work for an expecting mom at her baby shower!

+Hunting Season bags — ON SALE!?!

+A beautiful way to stow precious jewelry.

+Love this puffer for a little one.

+This ultra-coveted pearl-trim cardigan was just restocked in all sizes.

+This $123 dress reminds me a lot of Saloni’s Camille sequin dress.

+This striped blouse is so me.

+An aubade to parenting.

6 Comments

  1. Beautifully written! Congratulations on passing the 6-month mark with your son. A milestone to be sure šŸ™‚

    I adore that oyster ornament and it could also work for several Wellfleet-oyster-loving family members!

    xx

  2. “Motherhood is an exquisite kind of pain.”

    Oh, Jen — I could not have said it any better. To echo what Brooke wrote in her comment, you describe the motherhood experience in all its nuances and complexities so beautifully.

    Congrats on 6 months, and the squishy cheeks, arm rolls and thigh rolls! LOVE.

    I love your description of that first moment with Hill and his “kisses” during your c-section… such a precious memory! Wow. (Goosebumps)

    I had a similar experience to what you just wrote about, putting Hill to sleep… I remember when my now 2-year-old (WHAT just happened?!) was about 5 months — I was holding her, rocking her, shushing her in an effort to get her to sleep and nothing was working. I then reminded myself to step outside of myself for a moment, as though an outsider looking in, and I suddenly thought, “read her cues”! I realized that, like your micro, she was arching her body AWAY from me. So I put her down in the crib. She was totally fine! What a surprise to me that she preferred the feeling of space over closeness at the time. She actually fell asleep on her own. Development — and motherhood — is always double-edged it seems. The emotions of pride, witnessing their growth and development, and the grief from no longer feeling “needed”. Where one ends and the other begins, I don’t know. You are absolutely right in saying “time is a thief”. I feel that way almost constantly. I am reminded, too, that time really is a gift.

    Here’s to healthy babies!

    PS: Fellow five-foot-nothing here! šŸ˜‰

    1. Hi Mia — Yes, that’s exactly what it is! He wants space to stretch out and roll onto his stomach — not to be nestled into the crook of my arm. So funny and oddly reassuring that you had the exact experience.

      You are right, too, that time is a thief, but also the most generous of gifts. Need to be more mindful while I’m IN the moment to enjoy it. That’s the other side of the coin…

      Thanks for this sweet note, friend šŸ™‚
      xxx

  3. I adore your way with words most especially in regard to the complex emotions of motherhood. Iā€™m sitting here trying to conjure up memories of my two and four year old sons at micros age… the days of cribs and sleep sacks and rocking seem so far away from me now! I can hardly recall what it felt like to wear them, to hold a much smaller boy on my hip. Oh goodness the baby days go by so fast!

    1. Ohhh. It so does. I can hardly remember this age with mini. I mean, sometimes it comes back to me in a flash as I’m caring for micro, but truly — these days disappear into thin air. I think that’s why I’m extra weepy this go around, knowing how quickly it flies and how soon it will be difficult to recall all of the ins and outs. xxx

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