The first four months of my baby’s life were so tough. He was not a good sleeper. I spent those first four months rocking him, nursing him, singing to him, and bouncing him to try to get him to sleep. Around that four-month mark, he started arching his back, thrashing, and screaming when I would try to get him down for naps. During one of these fits, he head-butted me after what seemed like an eternity of me trying to get him to sleep.
“That’s it!” I exclaimed. I set my sweet, screaming baby down in his crib, shut the door, and walked away. On the verge of screaming myself, I took a slow deep breath in and out. By the time I was down the hall and picked up the baby monitor, he was asleep.
For months, he needed so much help, and I was there to provide that for him.
He was crying, surely he didn’t want me to put him down! I just assumed he couldn’t fall asleep on his own.
A few months later, my son had started crawling and spent most of his day exploring the house. One day, I walked into the kitchen, and he was attempting to scale my kitchen rack. My son, who had barely made any attempts to roll over in those early days. I remembered the hours of time I spent on the floor coaxing him with toys to roll, worrying about his development. I knew it was a matter of time before he would be scooting and cruising, but climbing! I just assumed he couldn’t.
When I find myself doubting his abilities, he always surprises me. Although these lessons are difficult to learn now, I hope this principle is something I can take with me as he grows up. I know when I give myself permission to try, I can usually achieve more than I originally set out to do.
In these moments, it is easy for me to jump to sadness. To feel a bit emptier as my baby becomes more independent and needs me a little less. In these moments, I practice mindfulness and reflection. Reflecting on all of the little moments and hard work that was put into these newfound abilities.
As he grows older, may I give myself permission to let him try, to let him fail, and to assume he can.
May I give myself grace when I am too much to bear and step in too soon. Never have I ever wanted better for someone other than myself.
I finished this writing watching the swearing-in of Kamala Harris as Vice-President of the United States. A few months ago, I sat on the floor of my living room trying on a respirator I purchased for myself to care for COVID-19 patients in the ICU where I work as Harris made her Vice-President-Elect speech.
I think about the number of times her parents must have had to sit on their hands while she tried and failed and as she took on tasks that were up against her.
I think about a mom I work with whose son is serving in the military.
The immense pride she must feel while also experiencing the pain of raising a boy to a man who is strong and independent.
I think about my own mom as she watches me go to work and raise my own son, knowing the struggles and challenges of parenthood all too well, wishing she could do more but knowing some lessons are best learned by trudging through them.
I think about my husband, who once traveled the world alone while his mom sat home, struggling to balance worry and fulfillment of raising such a capable and strong man—likely flooded with the nostalgia of when he was just a small, sweet baby.
If you are a boy mom, give yourself permission to assume he can.
Originally published on the author’s Facebook page