My baby is pushing 5 weeks old; I knew life could change in a heartbeat, but I didn’t realize how much a new heartbeat could change life. As I type this, he is sleeping on the floor next to me – knees curled up under him, tiny bottom in the air, tiny hands supporting his adorable little cheek, sweet mouth open just a bit, an occasional smile as he probably dreams of a continuous flow of milk into his tummy. Last night was a rough one for us. We probably didn’t get more than 3 hours of sleep and only a fraction of those hours were consecutive. He was simply wide awake, and as soon as I got him prepped and relaxed for bed he either spit up all over himself or filled his diaper. Exhaustion engulfed me and taunted the tears that I was desperately trying to hold back. With the morning light came enough clarity to help me gain a better perspective on my circumstances.
My husband and son are teaching me so many new things on a daily basis, though not deliberately. The main lesson is that my life is so much more meaningful when I am willing to put myself last. In my case, putting myself last often means setting aside that schedule and to-do list and just lying on the floor next to my husband so that we can stare together with wonder at our baby. It means not allowing my schedule to dominate to the point that I see a clock face and not my child as I care for him. It means embracing the giggles and grins and baby breath rather than regretting the hours of lost sleep. It means taking the night shift so my husband can sleep. It means listening to him describe his day rather than taking a longer nap. It means letting go of frustration so that walls don’t go up between me and the people that I love most. It means adjusting my list of priorities and putting people above plans, life above lists.
You see, it all goes back to the man who won my heart two years ago and with whom I just celebrated my first wedding anniversary. He has such a way of bringing out the better me in me. I am an extremely selfish person, but when I see him willing himself to bend over to clean the cat litter despite the excruciating sciatic pain in his leg or hear him cheerfully making conversation with me at zero-dark- thirty to help me stay awake as I feed our son despite the fact that he has to get up to go to work in just a couple of hours or feel him wrapping his arms around me when I am crying, for the umpteenth time, about chores I couldn’t get to because I am so tired (only to discover that he did them for me while I took a nap), my resolve ever strengthens to purge selfishness from my life. His selflessness and daily sacrifice have opened my eyes to how much I really didn’t know about everything.
I didn’t know that I could ever be so tired on a daily basis.
I didn’t know such a small person could create so much daily laundry.
I didn’t know all that a 24/7 position entails, which is what it means to be a mom and homemaker.
I didn’t know how incredible it is to hold a small body in my arms and look into two wide eyes and to feel baby breath on my neck and realize that this new person is half of me and half of my husband and entirely his own being.
I didn’t know how terrible selfishness feels and how beautiful sacrifice is in marriage.
I didn’t know that suffering forges deeper commitment than ease ever could.
I didn’t know that I could ever love two people enough that when given opportunities to get mad at them I would find it impossible to do so.
I didn’t know that I would want time to stand still as often as I want it to now.