My son turns 9 months soon. He’s growing into a little boy, one with an intense stare, a gorgeous smile, and a knack for blowing raspberries at any given moment. He has a sunny disposition which I know comes from his wonderful father. My little boy wakes up with a smile as soon as he sees me and I know my day is going to be filled with continued wonder at this being who even on the day he was born, had a knowing expression in his eyes.
I have had a successful career as a journalist, one in which I met and interviewed the most famous people on the planet. 20 years in television taught me the most important thing about being a journalist is to listen. In fact, that could be said about any profession. If you listen to what people around you are saying, really listen, and hear their stories then you can learn so much. Well, now that I’m in a new phase in my life–motherhood, I’m listening, and watching, intently to what my son is teaching me. In fact, this entire time of being a mother–from the moment I knew I was pregnant to where we are now, I’ve been learning from my son. I would like to think I am teaching him a thing or two–but frankly, he is teaching me.
It is because of him that I am learning so much about what it takes to be a mother. My son is teaching me to be resourceful in every way–from what I feed him, to what we play with, to how to get him to sleep, and to how he should be entertained/educated so that he grows into, hopefully, a kind, compassionate and happy man. I mention these things because the reality is, motherhood doesn’t always come naturally to everyone and no matter how many books you read, there isn’t an instruction manual. You put me on set in the middle of a major breaking news story and I feel at home and ready to roll. But with a kid, let’s just say it was like stepping in to a whole other profession: one where I had no experience, no education, and no clue. The day my parents left after being with me when my son was born, I literally googled “what to do with a two month old baby.” I needn’t have googled. He told me in his way what he wanted. We started out with what I knew–tv. So we watched Sesame Street. He found it entertaining, as did I to be honest. It took me down memory lane. I grew up watching it and learned so much. He loves listening to music, any kind. So we listen to what my husband and I listen to. I have become quite the entertainer when it comes to singing about absolutely nothing and everything. He just loves hearing me try to rhyme and dance. Now as I watch him play with the myriad of toys that he has, I see he is growing in his own way and his own time. I am just there to hold his hand, provide him with options, and guide him along the way. The fact that he smiles at me and beams at whoever looks at him tells me we’re doing ok.
All that said, motherhood is relentless. There is no “time off”, there is no weekend, there is no break. His nap time is my time to do whatever I need to do to feel a bit normal again, whatever that means. It’s my time to have a cup of tea, write, read, do everything else that needs to be done that can’t be done while he’s up and demanding my attention. As much as he his an utter joy, junior is a handful at times. I guess in that respect he has taught me patience and the absolute need (or rather, requirement) to stay in the present. There can be no drifting off mentally to another time or space, not when he’s awake. He has also taught me unconditional love–no matter how frustrated or tired I am because he just won’t go to sleep, or smacks away the spoonful of food making its way to his mouth even though I know he will cry soon after because he is hungry–I still love this little noise machine. I’ve never felt this much love for someone.
Falling in love with your child is an interesting sensation. You have a million emotions swirling around you at the same time: intense love, worry, joy, fear, hope, excitement, back to worry again, and then all wrapped up in a beautiful bubble where you feel your heart will burst because you can’t believe how blessed you really are. My husband and I look at him with our bleary, exhausted eyes and wonder how on earth something so beautiful has come into our lives. We are eternally gratefully for every second, every moment with him. I am so grateful for this opportunity to see the world through my little boy’s eyes, be the one who witnesses his firsts, and cuddles him when he cries. He is the gift I thought I always wanted but was never sure, until he came along. Now I can’t imagine my life without him.
So what have I learned? Life has a way of giving you what you need when you need it. I worked endlessly for more than 20 years. I had an amazing time and experience travelling the world, working with and meeting the most incredible people, and I got paid well. But now life has given me a chance to evolve in a new way. I got to experience the miracle of giving birth. I now have the time to be with my baby which is a blessing, a gift, and a privilege. I know I’m one of the lucky ones who, for now, gets to choose to stay at home thanks to a very understanding husband. We make adjustments along the way but it’s worth it. Our son has taught us what a fulfilling life looks like: one where we don’t need all the things we thought we needed to be happy. My husband and I talk about what we really want in life and that is the time and space to watch our son grow while also doing all those things that help us as individuals grow…finding the work that feeds our soul, and also pays the bills. It’s not an airy fairy dream. I know it’s out there. It’s like what Arianna Huffington says about redefining success: “WE HAVE, if we’re lucky, about thirty thousand days to play the game of life. How we play it will be determined by what we value…And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, ‘This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!’ And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, ‘No. This is what’s important.’” For me, that comes in the form of seeing my little person smile–and what I have come to learn as a true measure of my success in life.