I remember when I first came home from the hospital with Penelope. Like lots of first-time moms, I had read the books, envisioned what it might be like, thought about it constantly. And, like lots of first-time moms, I quickly realized nothing I had done or read could truly prepare me for what was to come, especially in the foggy, painful, sleep-deprived early days. I remember thinking:
All of this I have to do, just to get her to go to sleep? Rocking, swaying, coaxing…I am exhausted and wonder if she’ll ever let me sleep again.
All of this I have to do, just to breast feed her? I always thought it was so easy, and never imagined something so natural could be so painful, so emotionally and physically taxing.
All of this I have to do, just to change her? Sure, I anticipated the diapers, but this many times a day? In the dark, in the middle of the night, the two of us sleep-deprived, trying to quickly maneuver a diaper around her tiny squirming body?
All of this I have to do, just to get out of the house? Diaper bag packed with diapers, wipes, fresh change of clothes, and by the time I actually readied myself and got out the door, it was time to turn right back around and start the process all over again.
All of this I have to do, just to feed her solids? Preparing and introducing foods, teaching her how to eat, washing the dishes, only to start the whole process all over again and to have my kitchen look like not a damn thing had been changed or cleaned, when in reality, it all went full-cycle?
All of this my body has to go through, to recover from carrying her? Those last few weeks of pregnancy in particular, where I was desperate for her to turn, then the inevitable C-section, and healing process?
And then, somewhere as the days went on, and my body repaired itself, and our two little souls became more acquainted, we settled into each other. And suddenly I thought:
This is all I have to do, to take care of her all day and have her rest her tiny head on my shoulder before I put her down for the night?
This is all I have to do, to get her to laugh and crack up at the smallest of things?
This is all I have to do, to watch her face light up when I show her an orange slice or piece of mozzarella, and to see her learn how to feed herself?
This is all I have to sacrifice, to have my heart fill with love so full that I think it may burst?
It takes all of this – and I can’t believe this is all it takes – to enjoy this little pint-sized, mozzarella-loving, cake-face-planting little girl.