Henry is sleeping soundly. His morning nap is his best. He wakes up about 7 and goes right back to sleep at 8. I have the video monitor on, not because he needs monitoring, but because I just love staring at him.
Today marks my last official day of maternity leave and it is breaking my heart. Part of me really is looking forward to being back at work. This has just been the most amazing and special times in my life. I grieve to see it ending.
In reading my pregnancy and first-year-of-motherhood books, I was prepared for these weeks to be challenging. Many pages were spent on tips for soothing a fussy baby, how to deal with feeding and sleeping challenges, what to do with nothing else will work. Amazingly, I put none of those to use. My dearest, precious Henry has been nothing but pure joy every moment.
Let me be clear: this has nothing to do with my talents as a mother. Nope. It's all Henry. He's so calm and relaxed. He is always smiling. I remember after his shots, once he calmed down and had a snack, we put him up on the table to change his diaper and the first thing he did was give us a big grin. How could you not love every moment with that kind of baby.
It was as if he was rooting me on. You can do it momma! I always imagined it was my job to boost his confidence, to teach him that he can do anything he puts his mind to. Well, wouldn't you know, he was the teacher first. In his inherent goodness and patience with me, he was giving me confidence. And as a result, spending all day with him for the last 12 weeks has been the greatest honor and pleasure of my life.
I can't help but think of my own mother today. All those moments she had to let me go: walking me into the 1st grade (with me cowering behind her leg and my dear friend Holly cowering beind her mommy's leg), sending me off to camp for the first time (where my collect calls home ended up costing more than it cost to send me there!), leaving me at Furman my freshman year. She always exhibited such grace and confidence.
I hope to be able to do the same for Henry. I know it will get easier. The week after next will be better than next week and so on. But in hoping for things to get easier, I don't want to skip over this moment--this moment to be sad and to reflect and to be nothing short of overwhelmingly grateful. Many mommies don't get this much time. Many mommies don't get this kind of baby. I was given 12 full weeks with the most amazing angel of a baby.
He filled me with confidence for this stage and I know he will for the next. I can see him now, in my mom's arms sending me off to my first day of work with a big smile and maybe even a giggle. "I'll be fine momma. In fact, I'll be great. Thank you for showing me all that a momma can do."
But for now, I just stare at the monitor. In fact, I think he's stirring. What joy! More precious time with my beloved Henry in my arms.