The first time I saw my son I immediately wanted the world for him. And as he has grown, that feeling — of wanting to give him everything he could ever need, and tearing the world down in the process if necessary — hasn't vanished. If anything, it's only intensified. From his first steps to first words to the first of what will be many bumps and bruises, I always find myself thinking back on the silent promises I made my baby the first time he cried out for me. The promises that, as a mother, I will do everything to keep so the baby that has brought me more joy than I ever could've imagined, knows I will always be there for him.
My partner and I dreamed, hoped, and endlessly planned for another baby before I found out I was pregnant with my son. Our daughter was a toddler at the time, and conceiving and carrying her to term was fairly uneventful, so we were at a loss when I failed to get pregnant again. When we were finally able to celebrate a successful pregnancy, I miscarried. Distraught, confused, and heartbroken, we tried again. I miscarried again. With my age creeping upwards, and fertility treatments around the corner, my partner and I began to accept having another child may not be part of our story.
A few weeks later, though, I found out I was pregnant with my son. His heartbeat was strong and healthy, and though I feared I'd lose him at any moment, I decided to savor the pregnancy as best as I could. Through the pain and discomfort. Through the hypertension (pre-eclampsia) and loss of amniotic fluids that forced an induction. Through every kick and scary turn, he and I were connected in ways I never could've planned for.
When he was born alive, I was in awe. And when he first called out for me, the world stopped turning. Through the still air surrounding us both, his small voice carried in waves the needs he knew only his mother could fulfill. In that instant, my mind accumulated all the things I'd promise to do, and be, for my son and from that moment forward. Things like, for example, the following:
"I'll Always Be Right Here..."
Because of all I'd gone through to have my son, when he called out for me I knew I had to reassure him that I was there. For the rest of his life, I want my son to take comfort in the fact that he can always count on his mother.
"... But If I'm Not, I'll Hurry"
The truth is, though, that life happens. No matter how good my intentions, I can't always be right there for my children when they need me. Even though I promised my son I would be, I hope in the time since, I've proven I'll always get there the moment I'm able. It's about trust, and I refuse to risk losing that.
"You Can Count On Me..."
Hearing those first requests from my baby meant taking on the responsibility of being that person he needed. I promised he could count on me then, and always. Years later, he still can. And the best part? He knows it.
"... And Those Who Love You"
My daughter was excited to welcome her baby brother into the world. And, as a family, we collectively agreed that we would do our best to care for this new addition to our clan. So if at any time my baby needed me, and I wasn't able to be there right away, my son knew he could count on his father and his sister, too.
In the end, I want my son to know that he will never be alone. Ever.
"I'll Love You Until The End Of Time..."
"... And Nothing Will Change That"
I still promise.
"You Will Always Come First..."
Having children has truly been one of the greatest honor of my life. While it's not always easy or pleasant, they've helped me grow into the strong, resilient woman I never could've been without them. My relationship with their father is important, and my friends and family are important, but my kids come first. They didn't ask to be brought into the world, so it's my job to help them grow into the people I know they can be.
They will change the world someday — I promise you.
"... But I Will Care For Myself, Too"
Without me, there is no them. After overcoming postpartum depression (PPD) with my daughter, I take this promise very seriously. I'll step away as often as I need to in order to be the kind of mom my children need me to be.
"I'll Try To Give You The World..."
Realistically, I know I can't give my kids everything (and I shouldn't if I want them to learn how to be independent). But I grew up poor, so I know what it's like to count change and rely on food stamps and go without eating anything at all. I do not want that for my children.
When my baby called out for me, I promised him that I would do whatever it takes to give him everything he needs so he won't have to go without. Ever.
"... But If I Can't, I Know You'll Find Your Way"
Along with doing my damnedest to provide for my babies, it's equally important I teach them to work hard for the things they want, so they can be self-sufficient. One day I just won't be there for them, so I promised them both that when that day comes I will have prepared them for the world to the best of my ability.
My babies will be OK without me, because I was the mom I promised them I would be.