Right now, I can fix everything for him. I am the balm, the healer, the solution. He is only a year old, and I am his world. When he hits his lip on the coffee table, my hugs and soft words are his pain killer. When he wakes at night scared in his crib, it is my presence that soothes him back to sleep. When he accomplishes something new, it is my words of encouragement that bring out a smile so radiant and full of pride. I am the one who greets him in the morning and puts him to bed at night.

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I know it won’t always be this way. One day I won’t be the alpha and omega of his 24 hours. I know one day he will experience pain, physical or mental, that his mama can’t fix with just her presence.

So right now, I will bask in this time of being his everything.

Even though I’m exhausted, even though I miss the days of sitting on the couch for hours lost in a book. I know one day I will try to fix something for him and we both will know I am not enough. I am the one who brought his little life into the world and I know I must prepare him to stand on his own two feet and face it without me right beside him.

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Perhaps he will do well. Perhaps he will handle life’s trials and challenges much better than I. I don’t know what struggles my son will face as he ages. I don’t know whether he will be bullied. I pray I raise him in a way that he doesn’t become the bully. I don’t know whether he will one day be cheated on, or lied to, or the victim of violence.

What I can do as the years go by and he begins to leave my arms and then build his own life away from mine, is to give him a living example of what it means to use all your tools to get through a crisis.

I need him to know it is OK to ask for help. I’ll teach him this by letting him see me ask for help when I feel that life’s challenges weigh too heavy on my shoulders. I’ll teach him it’s OK to go to therapy and work on yourself. I’ll teach him this by going to therapy if I need to. I’ll teach him it’s OK to take time out for your mental health, to clear your mind and rebuild your own strength. I’ll teach him this by taking time for myself away from motherhood, be it by taking a bath, a walk, or time with friends.

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If I can make it the norm for him to know there are ways to work through the hard times, hopefully, I can teach him habits that will carry him even when my arms are no longer around him.

Ashleigh Paterson

Ashleigh Paterson lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband, son, and a crazy Kelpie. She is currently trying to learn how to balance motherhood, marriage, and work and relishing in the joyful disorder.