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A long time ago, it was just you and me.
Every day, from the morning when Dad left for work, until the evening when he came home. You, and me.
We did everything together. Grocery shopping, crafting, cooking, baking, napping, and of course, binge-watching all the reality TV shows. I was next-level obsessed with you, and fully convinced that no mother had ever loved her baby more than me. It almost physically hurt to think about how much I loved you (and still do!). Hugging you wasn’t enough; I wanted to envelop you with my entire body, pouring out love.
You are my first baby. The one who made me a mama. And yet somehow, here we are, fast forward to six years later. I never expected it to go this fast. When you have a baby people say, “don’t blink,” and, “it goes by so fast.” They were right.
Motherhood is a kind of twisted timewarp where one moment you think the days of poopy diapers will never, ever end, and the next moment, you’re watching your baby get on the school bus for the first time. In a flash.
You were by my side during the depths of postpartum depression and anxiety, all three times – including the times when I didn’t even know I was suffering. No matter how dark my mood you still came running with a chipper, “Hi, Mom!” and a smile. Stepping in to help with your sister and baby brother when I couldn’t. Always willing to share what’s yours, always thinking of others.
And somehow in the midst of pregnancies and births and babies and school drop-offs and pickups and life, my attention has been divided exponentially. It’s no longer just you and me. The guilt is real, and intense.
Logically, I know that giving you the gift of siblings is amazing. Built-in friends to play with, comrades, confidantes. But it doesn’t stop me from listlessly looking back at the time when it was just you and me, longing to have that one-on-one time again. I feel like some days it’s a constant stream of, “Hold on, Ben,” “Let me help your brother, Ben,” “Ben, you’re the oldest, be a good example,” “Not now, Ben.” You mostly take it in stride, but I feel sad wondering if you ever feel anything but joy to be a part of our family.
This June, when I had the chance to take a three-day trip with just you, I was bursting with excitement. Three days, just Mom and Ben time. Bliss.
Our time in Pittsburgh was nothing short of magical. I cannot even explain how much I adored spending time one-on-one with just you, from sun up to sun down, just like the old days. When we got to our hotel room – your first hotel stay ever (and your first airplane flight ever!) – you sweetly designated one bed as yours, and the other as mine, and said, “The first night we’ll both sleep in my bed, and the second night we’ll both sleep in your bed!”
I got to see the wonder in your eyes when we went to your second Major League Baseball game ever, and excitement that I let you get an Icee.
I saw you playing with other children in a way that I normally don’t get to see because most of your peer interactions happen at school.
I watched your eyes grow big when you were served massive French toast waffles and freshly squeezed orange juice, and even bigger when you had a handspun triple chocolate milkshake.
I eagerly watched you enter an airport for the first time ever, saw you excitedly eye the planes coming in and out, and saw your sheer joy when you got to meet the pilots and received your first plastic air wings pin.
I saw your innate creativity shine when building all kinds of Lego contraptions at the science center.
And best of all, we got to have uninterrupted conversations where I could focus on you and only you.
There’s some kind of magic that happens when you’re together with someone for 72 hours straight.
It was the best three days that I’ve had in years because it was just you and me. Having that one-on-one time meant the world to me, and the best part is that I think it meant the world to you too.
No matter what happens, how big you get, how you’ll need me less and less over time, you’ll always be my baby, my first born, and the one who made me a mama.
I love you, my dear sweet Ben.
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Photo Credits: Cookiesforbfast