When I was pregnant with Karl, I had quite a few people ask me what I was most looking forward to when I became a mother. I always felt like I gave a Homer Simpson type answer that included "Doh" "Uhhh" and "Hmmm." Truth is- I didn't know what I was looking forward to the most about being a mom. I'd never been a mom. What do mom's enjoy? I pretty much answered these queries with "holding my baby in my arms" because honestly, at the time, that is what I was looking most forward to doing. For one, I had this image of a sweet, cuddly, sleeping and angelic babe swaddled tight and snuggled in my adoring arms- you know, all Hollywood like with magical harp music playing softly in the background every time I looked at my little piece of perfection. I also just wanted him the heck OUT of my abdomen and in my arms for my comfort's sake- I was pretty miserable the last few months of my pregnancy with Karl, what with the aching crotch and all over "itching powder" feeling pregnancy rash I had. Really- to hold Karl in my arms was what I wanted most and I didn't know any better.
Reality set in, and when he was finally here I discovered that those cotton-candy and unicorn fantasies I had about gazing into my newborn son's eyes while holding him in my arms weren't all they were cracked up to be. Sure, I had my "moments" when I felt all gooey inside while watching him sleep in my arms, but mostly I wanted to be sleeping when he was, and when I was holding him, he did a lot of screaming, or a lot of latching and after about 3 weeks my arms got tired, my boobs throbbed and I just wanted to lie down and SLEEP. I hadn't looked forward to all of that per se.
Fast forward about 12 months. Karl doesn't like me to hold him a whole bunch- he squirms and wiggles and proclaims "I WALK I WALK" when I carry him. He weighs 31lbs and I'm 6 months pregnant (AGAIN!) and really, I'm thankful he wants down and can walk on his own because holding him in my arms isn't all that feasible anymore. I do miss the times when I could sit with him and rock him and cradle him with my arms but I can say from experience that holding him is not what I like most about being a mom and it certainly isn't what I look forward to the most when my daughter arrives, either.
I look forward to holding my little girl, for sure. I also look forward to seeing her smile those big soggy,gummy and drool-shining smiles. I look forward to her sleeping through the night. I look forward to hearing her contagious and infectious and downright delicious belly laugh. I look forward to seeing her play with her brother and I look forward to watching her listening to her daddy sing. But, speaking now from experience, there is one thing I just can not wait to see her do because it is the one thing I LOVE the most about being Karl's mommy.
What I like most- no no scratch that- what I adore most, what I'm most grateful for, what I weep about with happiness and what I thank God for each night- is the simple joy of watching my son learn. There is NOTHING, not a single thing, more priceless or downright magical in this world than watching Karl discover his world and understand new things. I am moved to tears, almost daily, by the sheer power of watching Karl learn to do things he wasn't able to do before. Every "first" is more exciting than the last and I have indulged in seeing his first smile, when he was first able to grab things, the first time he rolled over, the first time he crawled, the first time he walked.
Now that Karl has nearly mastered all of his "physical firsts" (all the moving he can do with his body which is astounding considering that, in the span of a single year he went from not being able to coordinate his hand to his mouth or lift his head, to agile walking and even running now) I am astounded by the leaps and bounds he's making with his "mental firsts." This little person, who used to scream for the better part of a day, is talking. He forms 2 and 3 word sentences. I used to struggle helplessly to figure out what the heck was wrong with him when he'd cry. It was frustrating and felt humiliating at times, to not be able to help him or at least understand WHY he was so upset. Now, he says things like "Mama, teef (teeth) boo boo, meds." It can't be more clear- his teeth hurt, he wants medicine. Holy cow. My son TALKS. He TELLS me things. Glory hallelujah I UNDERSTAND him! "Mow (More)! Mow wawa!" More water?!? I GET IT! "Mama, mow! Eat eat!" I understand, you're still hungry! I can't believe he is able to communicate with me- it blows my friggin' mind. It astounds me. I looooovvvvvveeee it.
Just tonight, Karl made me cry (sob really, after he went to bed so he wouldn't be confused seeing me do so, since they were tears of joy). For a while, Bruce and I have been counting things when we hand them to him. "One book, two books! See? Now you have 2 books!" After his bath tonight, Karl went into his room and picked up a toy and said "WAAAN" then picked up a 2nd toy and said "TUUUUU." I thought, and so did Bruce for a moment, that it was a fluke thing, until he did it again. Picking up another toy he declared "WAAAN" and then another "TUUUU!" Clearly, he was counting... one, two. It's really like, in the short span of a bath, his little ultra-mighty brain was able to place a missing piece where it should go and voila- he was suddenly able to count to 2.
I imagine Karl's brain like a mega Rubic's cube sometimes. It's in his beautiful head (under that mane of luscious hair he has) clicking and turning away. When colors line up it's like SNAP, BOOM he's able to do something new. It seems like he has those SNAP,BOOM moments daily now. Bruce really said it best when he said "It's like he's learning in hyper speed." He has got a Bugatti Veyron speed brain. It doesn't stop. It is relentless. It learns EVERYTHING. My son is astounding. There is nothing cooler than seeing him learn new stuff. I feel like I want to show it off, too- like a puppy who knows how to do a new trick- only it's my kid and he's not doing tricks, he's mastering life.
It's just funny to me that I didn't know I'd love watching my son learn the most as a mom because I'm a teacher. I've always said that it definitely ain't the pay that keeps me in teaching, but that it's watching the kids learn that I enjoy most about my job. Seeing a child have an "Uh Huh!" light bulb moment is really a great thing when it happens in the classroom. As a teacher, you feel as if you've done your job when a student "gets it." It's really and truly rewarding. As a parent watching your own child learn? That is mind blowing. Seriously, I feel like having a Wayne and Garth "Woah, dude" moment every time Karl does something new. I would have never understood the magnitude or the profoundness of what a parent feels when they watch their child succeed before I was a parent, even though I was a teacher before I was a parent. It's another thing you just don't "get" until you've "got" a kid of your own.
When I think about what I'm looking forward to most when it comes to my daughter, it's not the brutal, sleep deprived, ragged and sanity testing first 3 months (my eyes are beginning to twitch just thinking about it) but it's seeing her experience her world for the first time, too. It's seeing her discover all the new things she has to learn. It is truly magnificent watching my son do it and the thought of getting to observe both of my children learn, for their entire lifetimes, is just mind boggling. I can not wait to see it happen.