As soon as my son was born, happiness and freedom redefined themselves. Sacrificing my wants and needs were a struggle in the beginning, though. I missed my old self, my life pre-baby. I longed for the limited responsibilities and shopping alone. I craved breakfast at 11:30 a.m. after sleeping in. I envied two-person holiday travel, and if I’m honest, I missed my old life in an unhealthy way.

I missed the independence.

When I was pregnant, I only faintly idealized what life would be like as a family. I never in a million years thought my kids would be my shadow EVERYWHERE, or that I would enjoy that aspect.

Once I got into the swing of caring for myself last, I knew I was two feet into my new life and my new identity. Toting a child along was no longer a burden, it became the highlight of my day. Missing freedom was a pastime, and my baby turned into my forever companion.

To my son, I remember my life before you, but I can’t imagine my life without you.

My love, my life before you was carefree and spontaneous, but it had no purpose. Now I can’t imagine a single day without you.

I can’t imagine seeing a movie and not sharing a treat with you.

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I can’t imagine cooking and not making that special meal for you.

I can’t imagine traveling without your little Elmo suitcase and teddy bear.

I can’t picture myself sleeping in, because that means you probably aren’t here, or you don’t need me anymore.

The idea of embarking on a fun trip without your snack bag and music to play the entire car ride saddens me.

We choose restaurants based on how much you would like them. I can’t imagine dining without a table and a high chair and a kids menu.

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We open park maps and find which area you would have the most enjoyable experience in.

Sesame Street Live! is quite possibly my favorite show I’ve attended, and I’ve seen Vegas productions year after year. Here’s why: There is no happiness of my own that is brighter or more powerful than the cheerful grins and expressions you have for Big Bird. You can’t beat that wow face of yours. I can feel my heart melting when I see you discover new things.

I don’t relive my childhood through your eyes, I live for giving you those experiences.

Everywhere I turn, and everywhere I go you are here. Life would be so empty without you. What I can imagine is the painful silence that will come when you grow up and move from home. When you leave the nest, I’ll have to learn my 20-year-old ways again and familiarize myself with doing things as a party of one or two. For now, I’m absorbing all my time with you.

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Life is short, and I want my story to be chapters full of memories with my children by my side. Life before kids, those years, they are just the prologue in my book.

Jennifer Bailey

Stay at home mom enjoying one little boy and navigating parenting one trip to Target at a time.