I’m still caught off guard when Aidan rounds the corner of the kitchen island walking—not crawling–donning footy pajamas that would fit most 6-month-olds and shrieking with joy.
He can now walk up to hug me, throwing his arms around my neck as I bend down to scoop him up. He cries with strangers, but calms with me.
I get to be his mom.
I don’t have to say goodbye or only see him once a week. I get to know everything about him, for now. I know there will be growth and distance and secrets in the future. But for now, I get to be his world and I get to see the world through his eyes.
It is magic.
My favorite book when I was a kid was called “I Like to be Little” about a little girl that loved all of the unique parts of childhood–like being able to walk around barefoot in the summer and fit under the dining room table. I was never in a hurry to grow up.
I liked to be little.
At the end of the book, the little girl has just described all of the reasons she doesn’t want to grow up. The mother is smiling and seems amused, but I always felt sorry for her.
“Well,” said her mother, “I know something about being grown-up that makes all those things happen again.”
“What?” said the little girl. “What could that be?”
Her mother put her hand under the little girl’s chin and looked in her eyes.
“When you’re grown up,” she said, “you can be the mother of a little girl like you.”
At the time, I didn’t believe her that it was just as nice to raise a little girl as it had been to be one.
I thought, “She doesn’t understand. She’s missing out.”
It’s way better to be a kid, to not worry about money or productivity. To sit at the window and watch the rain run down the pane. To skip around barefoot and color with crayons.
I don’t have a little girl–yet—but Aidan is making a believer out of me.
In fact, I think raising a kid is better than being a kid. It’s meaningful in a way that I can’t explain. In the deepest part of me, I feel filled. I feel honored to know him and love him and be able to raise him.
For my first job out of college I wrote grants at a non-profit. I loved my co-workers and the organization’s mission. I loved my role. I had never felt so sure, so assured, by my vocation. My calling.
But it didn’t last. There was burnout and depression and a quarter-life crisis.
God said, “I will restore your joy.”
I didn’t know when. I didn’t know how.
And now I spend the majority of my days, my time, with a little boy that has captured my heart, reignited my joy for “work” (if you could even call caring for him work). My joy is restored tenfold. One hundred fold.
I thought I would be sadder about Aidan turning 1. About him learning to walk. He seems like a new kid overnight. A full blown person, walking and babbling and learning by the minute. I may not have a newborn anymore or a baby (when is the technical transition from baby to toddler anyway?), but I still have a son. I still get to be a mom. His mom.
And that (so I’m told) never ends.
Just a year ago I used to look at mom’s with toddlers and feel so bad for them that their baby was so old. Like the fictional girl in the story, I didn’t believe the mom who said it was better to be on the other side. I felt smug knowing I still had time to cherish and savor the first bath and newborn feedings, to track the milestones–rolling over, sitting, cruising, walking. And I did savor those times.
But I now think those other moms are on to something.
A year of knowing Aidan has made my life richer, fuller, magical. I can’t imagine what another year or 18 or 30 will do.
Happy Birthday, little love. Thank you for making me a mom.