That Heart on the Outside Feeling

What with Mother's Day last week and Willow's first birthday approaching this week, I can't help but write about those two things, which meant nothing (aside from appreciation for my own mother) to me not that long ago, and everything to me now.

Erik and I were eating dinner last night when he said "It's crazy to think how quickly this year went by, and that that's only going to happen seventeen more times before she's grown and gone."

It's so true. Time has never felt faster. They grow and change in a flash, and it's a heartbreakingly joyful thing. 

We can't wait to see her grow and experience new things, to hear all the big thoughts she thinks. We can't wait to see if she loves math or music or sports. But this age of simplicity is so special. This age where she all she really wants are food, sleep, or Mommy and Daddy.

You always think you know how much you can love. When you're a teenager, you're positive you'll never feel stronger about anything than you first boyfriend. When you're married, you're sure no one will ever consume your thoughts like your new spouse. But that first baby teaches you a selflessness you never knew you were capable of. She shows you what it truly feels like to put your heart and soul into something. And to then feel all the vulnerability of knowing your heart is in such a fragile little person, who has a will and life of her own to lead. 

When I was still living with my parents, my dad and I had many late night talks that went on into the morning hours. They're some of my favorite memories. I think I'm the rare child who has always felt completely understood by my father. I'd venture to say that there's STILL no one who understands me as deeply. During this particular talk, we were talking about love and marriage. And specifically, love at first sight. Neither of us really believed in love at first sight. Not that other people don't feel it, necessarily, but that WE could never feel that way. Meeting my mom was exciting, but his love for her grew over time. He said the exception to that rule, though, was children. That when I was born (I'm the oldest of my siblings), he learned what love at first sight felt like.

And I think of that now. The truth of it. I think of that first night with Willow, where I held her tight to me and proved to her that her new world may feel big and scary but I would never let her feel alone.

I love my parents, my siblings, my husband. But it isn't the same. I don't ache with the loving of them like I do Willow. I don't need to stop myself from reveling in that kind of love for fear I may overflow and cry from it. That's the depth that every mother and father reading this post right now understands. 

I've made it clear that this past year has been the best of my life. But that doesn't mean it isn't still complicated. It can be very hard. There are days where the enormity of this parenting thing weighs very heavy. The pressure is incomprehensible. There are days, weeks, of wondering if I'm doing the right thing. And the stakes have never been higher. There is a lot of confusion about who the new Tiffany is. What are my new priorities? What is still important? And what need to go? Because I'll tell you bluntly, I don't want to be super mom who "does everything." I want to do what I do really well. I want to prioritize and not stretch myself thin. I don't want to wake up one day and feel anger or resentment that I threw away something I shouldn't have. Or held onto something that wasn't worth it.

I know I'm getting a little vague. I don't mean to be. I guess I'm thinking about time and priorities and making the most of what I have. Right now, there's a mixture of thoughts I'm not ready to articulate yet and worries I'm still struggling to comprehend myself. I'll sort it out. And until then, I'll be grateful that there are enough open doors in my life that I get to fret over the abundance of choices I have.