It was 3am, every single day of my pregnancy: I would wake up sobbing, convinced I was going to be a terrible mother.
All the mistakes I’d ever made came flooding back to me, and I imagined my child making the same regretful decisions, simply because it was I who made him.
When he was first laid on my chest, tiny and slippery, I breathed his name and marveled over the fact that he was mine.
For months, I would stand by his crib in the middle of the night, watching his every breath, certain I wasn’t equipped to keep this little life living.
At 18 months, his daddy died. This child, whose idea of a hug was a millisecond squeeze, suddenly became the cuddler he’s been ever since. I held him close, terrified of leaving him alone.
At two and talking non-stop, I fell in love with his conversations. He was my light in the dark and the reason I ached to hold it all together.
I think of my own mama and I am sad that it’s taken me this long to realize how strong she is.
Too many days, I despise the power I hold in making this child cry. The struggle of balancing everything chips steadily at my patience until I explode. My prayer is a hasty SOS. His tears are mine and I ask for his forgiveness.
And yet, I see that this same power allows me to make him feel loved, safe, and strong. I begin to understand the notion that love is a choice.
It is my desperate wish that he’ll remember all the times I said I love you and forget all the times I didn’t.
I also begin to realize that to say I love my child unconditionally lingers on the edge of paradox. I love him unconditionally – but this is only possible on the condition that he’s my child. I ponder this and wonder how I can show the same unconditional compassion to everyone I meet. Am I capable of that? Do I have the courage? The patience? The strength?
My son’s face beams at school pick up, and we go home to color together, play together, read together.
I look in the mirror after he’s asleep. I wonder if I’m good enough. I worry I’m not.
And then I slide open his door and stand by his bed, and he is smiling in his sleep. He is loved.