One of the things having a baby does that I didn’t really consider before Jackson was born is it makes you visible. Even in this neighborhood where I found 18 — 18!! — women who gave birth within a few weeks of me to join my new moms’ group, people still know me by my baby. If I go to a store without Jackson — oh, to have a few minutes to myself! Even if it’s just to run an errand — the check-out women ask me where my baby is or how my baby is doing. They never talked to me before I got pregnant and I feel conspicuous in a way I wasn’t before. That’s not a bad thing. But in a city where it’s easy to be anonymous, being conspicuous is something I haven’t felt in a long time.
Another thing having a baby does that I wasn’t quite prepared for is make you all-too-aware of the passing of time. It’s not just that Jackson will be three months old on Tuesday and it seems like yesterday I was lying on a delivery bed in the hospital, screaming my head off and pushing him out. It’s not just that he’s outgrown all our favorite newborn outfits or that he eats three times as much as he did the first couple of weeks or that we’ve converted his bassinet into a crib and we’re moving him into his own bedroom this weekend. Those are bittersweet milestones, sure, but what I’m really talking about is the big picture: life, aging, moving from one generation to another.
My parents were here for ten days over Christmas and Hanukkah. It was their first time meeting Jackson. My sister came, too, and I bought Christmas stockings that I had personalized for each of us. My stocking said “Mom” and if I thought going without sleep for six weeks was a trip, getting my head wrapped around the idea that “Mom” was me — especially when my mom was sitting right there — was almost as crazy.
Sometimes I look at Jackson and I think I can see what he’ll look like as a man. And then I wonder if he’ll have a family of his own. Will he get married and have babies? Will I still be around? Will my grandchildren love me the way I’ve loved my grandparents? Having a kiddo has made me imagine myself an old lady a lot more than I ever have before. Having a baby has made me think about my own mortality in a way I never have.
Suddenly, time in so precious. It’s precious in the day-to day — I don’t squander a free half hour anymore, for example, because they’re so much rarer now — but also in the big scheme of things. My time isn’t just mine anymore. My husband isn’t just mine anymore. My body isn’t just mine anymore.
This is hard, raising a baby. It demands so much — attention, focus, time, energy and money. And if you care to, it asks that you re-examine yourself, your life, your future. What’s important? What can go? Everything has to be re-prioritized. Space has to be made. So much space for such a little guy.
It is getting easier, though. Ever since Jackson started smiling and I began connecting to him in more than just a primal way, it’s gotten easier. He’s so charming. And he’s smart. And he’s mine, and I love him.
The other day I was walking down the street, Jackson nuzzled against my chest in the big green Moby wrap that I wear. A woman a few steps behind caught up with me and asked how old my baby was, and said: “Cherish these moments. They go so fast.”
Jack will be three months old on Tuesday and then three years old and eight years old and then twenty and on. He’s going to belong to this world and some job and a partner and his kids. But today he’s mine. And today’s mine.
Landygirl January 4, 2012, 12:08 pm
He is adorable! Love that photo.
MissDre January 4, 2012, 12:17 pm
I want a baby!!!
lumpie January 4, 2012, 12:26 pm
Me too MissDre. Me too!!!!
Wendy you just made me Awwwww!! out loud! 🙂
fast eddie January 4, 2012, 12:21 pm
What wonderful loving thoughts. Your a very lucky woman, but you know that. (hug) 🙂
Alecia January 4, 2012, 12:23 pm
This was wonderful Wendy! It’s nice to see how your life has changed since you’ve had Jackson. Thank you for being so open and honest about it. And in this constantly changing and crazy world, it’s always good to hear about what really matters.
ReginaRey January 4, 2012, 12:39 pm
This is lovely, Wendy. I’m enjoying your posts about new motherhood, and I especially enjoy how honest and forthright you are. It’s refreshing to see someone admit the struggles that go with the joys. It also convinces me that I’m not ANYWHERE NEAR ready to get married and have children…I’m content to watch others enjoy it from a distance! 🙂
Kerrycontrary January 4, 2012, 1:15 pm
same! I could see getting married but the babies thing is way far off. I know that you have to stop being selfish the minute you have a child and I can’t give that up yet.
katie January 4, 2012, 8:21 pm
i feel the same way!!!
wendy, thank you for letting us all into the wonderfully secret world of being a first time mother. i enjoy reading everything you write and it has helped me invision my own life with a baby maybe someday….
melikeycheesecake January 4, 2012, 12:43 pm
Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your new mom moments with us!
lemongrass January 4, 2012, 12:44 pm
Beautiful. This post makes me want kids in more than just the hormonal way I usually do.
Jiggs January 4, 2012, 3:55 pm
They do the exact opposite for me. Not because I think Wendy is unhappy or anything, just because I look at what she’s doing and I think to myself “I can’t/don’t want to do that.”
It’s a weird feeling because hormonally I’m in the same baby-want place you are!
Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com January 4, 2012, 12:45 pm
Wendy, you have been so generous in sharing these intimate thoughts with us. I would love it, if you were willing to bare more, if you wrote about how having a child has influenced your marriage. This question is one that weighs on me and it’s a change that I feel people tend not to talk about.
Just a suggestion from one of many inquiring minds.
Wendy January 4, 2012, 1:08 pm
I can do that, but I have to do it in a way that’s respectful to Drew and our marriage. I’ll work on something for next time.
ForeverYoung January 4, 2012, 8:37 pm
I don’t even care if you lie, I would LOVE this article if you wrote it. I get that some things like the struggles are private, but I have an obsession with articles about marriage struggles after kids the way AddiePray is obsessed with Sister Wives.
Addie Pray January 4, 2012, 11:45 pm
I’m also obsessed with articles about [plural] marriage struggles!
ReginaRey January 4, 2012, 2:31 pm
I second this, and am glad Wendy has agreed to work on something. Frankly, the idea of having children with a spouse scares me because of the potential for it to change the whole relationship…for you not to have the time you used to, for neither of you to be able to give the same attention you used to, for your relationship to become less romantic and passionate, for the baby to effectively kill any mojo you once had…all of these things scare me about marriage and babies! Then again, just agreeing to be with someone forever scares me, babies or no babies!
bethany January 4, 2012, 2:52 pm
I’m afraid that I’ll love my baby a billion times more than my husband 🙁
People say it’s a different kind of love and you can’t compare them, but it still scares me a lot.
CatsMeow January 4, 2012, 3:00 pm
My boyfriend and I are talking about having babies…someday…in the (sort of) distant future. Believe me, I have all those fears AND THEN SOME. Sooo many questions.
Sarah January 4, 2012, 3:28 pm
I. AM. TERRIFED. of this happening. I never really thought about it til I read an article on infidelity and all the comments of real stories underneath (that I think someone linked on this site, I can’t find it anymore but maybe that’s for the best lol) about how the couple was fine until they had a baby and then one partner would ignore their partner and they would put all their attention on the kid more and more until it had been months and years since they felt connected or had sex and they want to die inside and are only together for the money and Ta Da, now I’m scared sh*tless.
The only thing that really made me feel better about the whole thing is that it seemed a big problem with a lot of the relationships turning sour were the product of people not communicating properly, which in some ways they would do on purpose because it was better to keep the family together than admit they were not right for each other. Also reading that helped me realize that I either want a baby when I really understand and prepare for the risks that could potentially hurt my relationship or not at all, and that my life with my boyfriend would be wonderful in a different way if we didn’t have kids and that it doesn’t have to be all “KIDS OR DESOLATE BOREDOM AND POINTLESS EXISTENCE”.
I think hearing confident women like Wendy talk about the trials that can come up in a marriage with a kid that’s realistic and honest and the ways to avoid common traps would be so wonderful. So many couples just spout out that “everything is rainbows and unicorns and my husband and baby complete my holy trinity of happiness” and they don’t give real solid advice. I would just love to hear a list of things like “This thing that you’re doing? You’re making him feel left out. Stop doing that.” etc etc etc.
Roxy84 January 4, 2012, 4:26 pm
This is probably the number one reason I wouldn’t have kids (among other, less important ones). I’ve also never really had a maternal instinct or a craving for children as far back as I remember. And it hasn’t even changed as my friends have started having babies on purpose. I like them well enough and I think they’re cute in their small clothes, but with how much stress they can put on a marriage it seems to me that you should REALLY want them, not just think they’re OK like I do.
ForeverYoung January 4, 2012, 5:01 pm
I have never really had a maternal instinct either and some of my friends find this very strange. Don’t get me wrong this post by Wendy is a tear jerker, and I can really understand why other women want nothing more than to have children, but I am very iffy about having kids – leaning heavily towards no.
I just wonder if some people were born with a more nurturing side. My friends will argue that I treat my dog as a child, am really amazing at taking care of my husband when he’s sick and really organized with my house, so I do in fact have maternal instincts. But for me it just feels different. I love my dog to pieces and I thoroughly feel like he has used up every ounce of maternal instinct I might have. And I know that my husband could take care of himself if necessary. Like I don’t have that added stress of leaving a child motherless. (Although I am very concerned that if anything ever happened to me my dog might not be fed at the appropriate times – but I remind myself that i’m just OCD about keeping him on schedule for everything).
I don’t know sometimes I just think that you either have it or you don’t, and I don’t. I think most women know deep down from an early age if they want to have kids at all even if it’s not for 10 or 15 years. Just my observations.
Roxy84 January 4, 2012, 8:53 pm
I’m the same. I walk dogs at the humane society and I want one of my own badly once I have a bit more time on my hands. I’m pretty organized and tidy and like to do things for my family and friends. But kids, they’re just OK to me and they’ve never been particularly on my radar. Like in high school when my friends discussed baby names or when they wanted to have kids/how many I would only be half-listening, not really interested. One of my friends just had one and I think he’s adorable, but I don’t feel mushy or OMG I WANT ONE about babies the way I do about puppies.
That said I did love this post, Wendy, and how honest you’ve been about your whole journey. Maybe because I’ve never felt the ‘yes of course’ about kids, but I’m super interested in how motherhood changes women’s lives in what seems like amazing and challenging ways
Skyblossom January 4, 2012, 5:27 pm
I think that the couples that fall apart soon after having a baby have marriages that would have failed anyway, just at a slower pace. You need to have developed good communication skills before having a baby and I hope that most couples can be married for a matter of years before adding a baby to their life. That way, when things
The couples that we’ve seen who have the most trouble adjusting to children are those where the husband and wife don’t have much in common. They each go their own way all of the time and they sleep under the same roof and are together if and when they both happen to be home at the same time. When both are used to doing what they want, when they want it can be very difficult to have one of them taking care of the baby while the other is out. They have to work together much more than they are used to just to schedule who will be home with the baby so that the other can be out.
jaybro January 4, 2012, 1:03 pm
You have such a beautiful family! I really like how you talk about the bits of motherhood that people don’t really talk about all that much. You keep it all very honest, and I appreciate that. It also reminds me why I’m nowhere near ready to produce a mini-me. Haha.
TaraMonster January 4, 2012, 1:09 pm
I just forwarded this post to my best friend who is about 2 months along- very early in her pregnancy so she’s not yelling it from the rooftops yet- but she did already find out that she’s pregnant with twins. I started screaming my head off and jumping around my living room with excitement when I got that news! Double nieces (or nephews) all the way! This is her first pregnancy and she’s the oldest of seven so I told her she’s on track to prove herself more fertile than her mother. Lol. I hope she reads this piece. I can’t imagine what it’s like for her to start prepping for such a big change.
camille905 January 4, 2012, 1:13 pm
Love this! Thanks so much for sharing!
LolaBeans January 4, 2012, 1:13 pm
awww, i love these.
SGMcG January 4, 2012, 1:18 pm
I love reading about Jackson and motherhood – even though you write about how hard it is to be a Mom, I can’t help but feel your sense of gratitude regarding your son. It’s the same sense I get from watching the two videos Drew uploaded about fatherhood – you can see how tired Drew is, but he still manages to smile about it. Jackson is so lucky to have parents like you two.
BriarRose January 4, 2012, 1:20 pm
I think the most interesting part of your child getting older is when you spot a woman on the street with her 3 month old or 3 year old or whatever, and think to yourself, “Isn’t that nice, we both have babies!” And then you realize your “baby” is actually 7 and can read and has two huge front teeth and thinks Carter from school is soooooooo cute.
It’s true; it goes by SO quickly. And to be painfully honest, it’s also so easy to forget those early days. I started writing down funny things my daughter did/said when she was little and I’m so grateful I did. It’s something I cherish to be able to look back and remember. Of course I think Wendy will have far more beautiful words for her children to read.
Wonderful, as usual.
rainbow January 4, 2012, 1:56 pm
That was lovely. He’s looking huge!
SisiSodaPop January 4, 2012, 2:09 pm
Awwwww……I just shed a few tears…..My lil one just turned 1, and I have another due in March. “This is hard, raising a baby. It demands so much — attention, focus, time, energy and money. And if you care to, it asks that you re-examine yourself, your life, your future. What’s important? What can go? Everything has to be re-prioritized. Space has to be made. So much space for such a little guy.” <—— THIS is sooooooo true. Thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts about motherhood.
SisiSodaPop January 4, 2012, 2:10 pm
Also, completely OT…but does anyone know how to update the picture that goes with my name?
Jenny January 4, 2012, 3:06 pm
I’m pregnant with my first, also a boy. Due in 90 days. I love reading about your experiences as a first time Mom. My husband is deployed and may not be back in time for the baby’s birth…I am absolutely terrified of doing it alone. However, I know he’ll be back and I’ll have his help, and he does offer a lot of support even from so many miles away. My heart goes out to single parents who do this all by themselves! Wendy, can you imagine how much harder it would be without Drew? Not just the physical help, but that bond…no one will love Jackson the way you two do. Three cheers for good husbands and Dads. It’s really sad there’s not more of them.
Sonia January 4, 2012, 4:11 pm
Skyblossom January 4, 2012, 5:46 pm
The first smile is indescribable! I’m glad you’re hitting an easier phase and can enjoy parenting even if it is tough.
Jess January 4, 2012, 7:05 pm
this is so nice.i love your writing wendy. its just lovely
Oddy January 4, 2012, 8:52 pm
I love the santa suit he is wearing! So cute:D
Wendy January 5, 2012, 6:19 am
Gift from his great-grandma!
Elizabeth January 4, 2012, 8:59 pm
A beautiful piece, Wendy. My 6th grader is going to her first school dance this weekend and it is mind boggling how fast this day has arrived. There is a phrase I love that sums it up: “Parenting – the days are long, but the years are short.”
Much happiness to you and Drew and Jackson!
Jillie Z January 4, 2012, 9:19 pm
Love this post Wendy! I have a completely non-ticking baby clock, but this was just heart melting. I am head over heels in love with my sweet baby niece, who turns 4 months next week, and i try to cherish every time i spend with her, because she is changing so fast and each week I notice something new. Since this little munchkin has been born, it’s really changed me, and that’s just as the aunt, i can’t even imagine the life changing experience for new parents! If you are comfortable with it, i’d love to hear how it’s affected you and Drew personally also… i’d always felt selfish voicing those worries out loud, so i was glad to hear that others had felt the same way. Thanks as always for sharing!
AKchic January 5, 2012, 7:53 pm
I’m not even going to get into the feelings involved when you end up chatting with school teachers who are teaching your kids, who used to be YOUR teachers, or worse – even went to school with your parents so now they are dealing with the 3rd generation of your family (especially if they dealt with your grandma the noon duty!).
quirkyrosa March 26, 2012, 12:36 am
So, beautifully written. I hope one day, I will have the opportunity to have a little one in my life. I wonder how I will behave, will I be more focus, will I be over protective or will I be carefree. I’ve seen my friends so happy when they talk about their newborns, I wish one day I experience that as well. You are a lucky woman Wendy. Smiles.