When Gus was a new baby and I was a new mom, we both had a lot of meltdowns. He would cry and I would cry. We would do everything we could for him, but he would still cry. I would sing him lullabies, but he preferred loud and discordant white noise. I would try and hold him close to me, but he would push away. He wanted to nurse for an hour at a time, wait 15 minutes, and then nurse again. For another hour. All day long. I felt like I could never leave the house with this loud and disagreeable (though cute) little person. And I rarely did. Everything seemed impossible and hopeless to me. I would try and remind myself “This is not forever.” I thought it would never get easier. I thought I’d never get good at “being a mom” and that Gus would be unhappy forever. “This is not forever,” I’d tell myself as we went onto hour #3 of trying to get him to sleep at night. “This is not forever,” I’d tell myself when I was driving with a screaming infant in the back seat. “This is not forever,” I’d tell myself as I held a wailing and overtired baby who neither wanted to be held nor wanted to sleep. “This is not forever.” But I didn’t believe it. It felt like forever.
But, of course, everything changed. Babies change, kids change, and they change FAST. That’s one of the biggest truths I’ve come across over the past 16 months.
Gus is happy. He is cautious but curious. He is loving. He is cuddly. He is smart and he is funny.
“This is not forever,” I tell myself as I nurse Gus in the dark of his room in the evening and he holds my necklace or points to my chin, ears, shoulder, nose, so that I will say “Chin,” “Ears,” “Shoulder,” “Nose.” “This is not forever,” I tell myself as I come home from work and Gus rushes up to me and throws himself into my arms and holds tight for five minutes, pulling away to smile into my face. “This is not forever,” I tell myself as I read Gus book after book, with his warm and heavy head resting against my chest. “This is not forever,” I tell myself when I watch my husband clown with Gus, making him shriek out that free, uninhibited baby laugh. “This is not forever.”
And now I believe it. I know it’s true. He stopped pushing away from me and now nestles into me. And someday soon I won’t be strong enough to hold him in my arms anymore. And he won’t want me to. And he will read books to himself. And he won’t want to chat when I get home from work and ask him about his day. But I know there will also be new happinesses that I can’t even imagine right now. All I know is, this is not forever. So I want to savor every little bit of this time, because even though I know there are good times to come, this is the only moment I will have Gus Thompson, Age 15.5 months.