Having a child when I did means that I gave up my rights for freedom and independence as a sole person. I gave up the life of "I" for the life of "we", whether I was really ready for it or not. For someone as independent and driven as I, this was a struggle and sometimes still is. I think this presents a struggle for anyone in their lives who have greater desires and goals they have had to relinquish for a greater good. In this case, my greater good was Caleb. And I knew being his mom meant saying goodbye to certain things, like traveling or moving out of state. This is still hard for me sometimes because I so desire the freedom to be able to do that, but not without him.
People often say that while parenting is challenging, the rewards are greater. It's funny when I think about these rewards. As a person with no child, my reward for personal goals might be a Master's degree or relocation to a new state. My rewards with a child are vastly different, and yet completely valid.
Yesterday my reward looked like this: The moment I got to hug my child close for a prolonged period of time-solely because he wanted to be held as I walked from the car to the house. My reward was his good night of peaceful sleep, the place where children melt into an appearance of angelic like properties.
I am aware of my internal struggle for the rights I gave up in becoming a parent. I exchanged that independence and freedom, to this. To motherhood. For him. It's a choice I would make all over again if I had to. And not because it is easy in any shade of the word, but because it was simply meant to be. He was meant to be here in this world, and I was meant to be his mom, and we were meant to be a little family of two, just as we are in this time.
Now that we are in the final months before his FIFTH birthday in April, I am reminded more and more of him as an infant. He was always a big baby, so strong and durable. He has always had a strong voice and a will to move, and he has always admired wheels and vehicles.
Now I see his stretching, moving, growing body gaining inches by the week it seems. In every way he is more than eager to grow bigger, to be the big boy, and now, to be a "big Kindergartener". And more and more, I just see my baby. Stretching and growing. It is astonishing to see and to think back on that infant babe I produced and cared for. It's like I keep seeing this flip book over and over again, and I'm like, "Wait!!!!! Wait let me turn back those pages. Let me see my baby infant boy again. Let me watch him grow from the start..." I mentally flip backwards through the flip book of his life. Reverse-rewind, show me my baby. Show me this child whom I gave up "my independent life" for. Show me the infant boy who made me a mom. Show me my reason for why I do every single thing I do that matters now.
No one ever said parenting was easy, especially when you have a child as a single parent and you are not ready in your life for it.
But this, this is beauty. It is hard beyond the daily struggles of parenthood for me sometimes when I feel that pull to move. I want so much to be able to fly away and not come back for awhile. I want so much to be able to board planes without feeling like half my heart and meaning remain here. Trips are not just trips for me. They are a separation with my child, with part of my very heart and body. I exchanged my independence for this bond with my child as his mother. And it was worth it.
Once I had a friend say that my desires and wants will just change now as a mom. That's not true. I still wish I could move and do all the things I gave up on. But I have new desires now that take precedence over my personal wants. And being a mother to my son means that his life and being take precedence, always. We are a we now. There is no "I" for me anymore. And while it is true that I did not give up my identity as a person when having him, it is also true that my identity changed.
I live and I breathe now out of purpose for my child. I am still my own person. I still have my own life. But my heart walks outside my body now and he demands fruit snacks and Ninja Turtles. And there is no way I would chose it any other way.