When Corey was a baby and toddler, I was going from being in a badly chosen marriage and into single parenthood. And living with my mother.
My son was my life, no doubt. But a big part of that life was simply putting one foot in front of the other. I had tunnel vision that was focused on making it through this day. This hour. This minute. My ultimate goal? I said it often.
I just want peace.
As a young mom, overall I was pretty good. But I lacked that sense of magic and awe that parents really should have about their kids. I remember feeling like people lied when they said, "It goes so fast." Several times the words "they grow so fast" seemed like a terribly false thing.
The fact that I spent all of my waking, and most sleeping, moments almost exclusively with my son for his first 11 months made it harder for me to see how he changed from day to day and week to week. The things he did that were advanced, I just figured they were normal.
It wasn't long after Corey was in nursery school that I started getting the reports. The calls. The list of problems that had to be dealt with straight away.
Memories of a very few people saying, "You must be so proud of him because... ." "Isn't it amazing how he... ?"
Only I don't remember why I was supposed to be proud or why he was so amazing.
There's a great mother of the year admission for ya.
I do, however, remember the thoughts that filled my head during these times that I should have been embracing.
They often started with "Yeah, but... ."
It wasn't always like this. And I'm not saying I was never proud of Corey. There have been times that he accomplished things or attempted something I never thought he would. And I was present and aware and so incredibly proud.
It was just that I was stuck in this one-foot-in-front-of-the-other thing and I couldn't get out.
Madelyn's start, on the other hand, was so full of love and happiness. Well, obviously not the part where she started out in NICU. But the pregnancy was textbook perfect, and bringing her home and living life with our new little girl; it was exactly the way I wish all kids could start out.
Sure, there was this quiet desperation that please, don't let anything take her from me, always in the background of my mind. But she was the center of the universe for Tom, Corey and I.
We oohed and ahhed over everything she did.
Her mere presence could calm tensions between any of the rest of us because, really, who wanted to shatter the spell?
She was amazing and wonderful, the smartest and strongest and most beautiful baby ever born.
Wouldn't you want to live in a world where people thought that about you?
I would look at her and think, "I made that, whoa."
And then along came Fynnie. These days Mad and I call her Fee Girl, which is Fynnie Girl the way Mad used to say it.
Fee Girl is the sibling Tom wanted Mad to have. I was perfectly happy not to have any more kids after I got the daughter I always knew was out there waiting for me.
But it wasn't long after I became pregnant with Fee that I was in love with this little being growing inside me.
That pregnancy was, by far, the hardest.
Morning sickness that starts at 17 weeks? Evil.
Being pregnant with a torn hip muscle? There are no words.
Heart burn and random vomiting while driving? Painful and embarrassing.
Not to mention that I sat around so much during that pregnancy that I lost a lot of muscle tone. People weren't sure I was pregnant even at the end. Maybe I was just that fat.
And then there was the labor. With Pitocin and no pain meds. (If you're contemplating doing that and ask me if it's possible, I will say yes. And I will bite my tongue so hard that you may see blood dripping out of my mouth. If you ask if I recommend it, I will say HELL NO.)
Fynn is my snuggliest baby. She is the one who makes hearts melt. The one for whom attachment parenting was created.
These are all wonderful things, but for the longest time I had a hard time seeing that they rose to the same level as the wonder of Madelyn.
There are some extenuating circumstances here.
Like I'm about 98% sure I lived through undiagnosed postpartum depression.
And that I didn't feel as close to Tom (or Corey, really) during Fee's pregnancy or newborn days.
And that, although the whole "let's have another child" thing was Tom's idea, he wasn't as interested in the pregnancy or newborn development in the same way that he had been with Mad.
In his defense, the man was working full-time and trying to get his own business off the ground, which meant working four weeknights and all of one weekend day after his other job. The man was probably living through that one-foot-in-front-of-the-other tunnel. I don't discount that or blame him (now. I did.)
All of this is to say that it took me a long time to find the wonder of Fynn.
But I did.
I have it.
Sometimes I look at her and I think to myself,
"How did you make this person?
How is it possible that she is here?
How is she possible?"
And I am grateful for this awareness while she is so young. Because it is what every child should have, this wonder at their very existence.