Who knew a Tuesday in February would be the perfect snapshot of the momentous change occuring in my life? I’ve been working two jobs for the past year, one with preschool aged refugee children and their parents, and the other as a nanny to a now-fifteen-month-old boy named Anthony.
Tuesday I got up and went to nanny as usual, but this would be my last day with this little guy since my own baby is due in just one month.
It was a pretty typical day as far as nannying goes. Breakfast, bath time—he tried to eat the bath water as usual and laughed at himself for his cleverness at discovering such a great game—snuggles on the couch to read the same three books half a dozen times before his nap, and endless chasing round and round the dining room table in the afternoon. I felt like my senses were heightened to every one of these routine events with Anthony, like I was subconsciously trying to memorize this day. The sound of his laugh when he bumps his sippy cup against my water bottle to make me say “Cheers!” before we each take a drink, the wonder on his face when he makes a chalk mark appear on his little blackboard, the familiar smell of the lotion his mom loves to put on him after every bath; every detail was more vibrant than usual on Tuesday.
Everything Anthony did that day seemed like a much bigger deal than usual. I was so proud when he fed himself almost completely on his own with a spoon rather than tossing it and digging in with his hands. When he finally signed “Thank you” to me for the first time I cheered and did a little happy dance with him. Usually I try to shift his attention to a new book by about the third time he hands me the same one again, but on Tuesday I just smiled and read it again, maybe even with more gusto. I didn’t mind the potential mess of water and salt when he spent a solid ten minutes trying to walk around the house in my snow boots. It could wait to be cleaned up when he found something new to be fascinated by. His persistence despite falling over or pulling a foot out of a boot every time he tried to take a step brought a smile to my face.
And with each little success or funny moment I found myself thinking of the millions of things Anthony will learn and experience without me. When I hugged him goodbye and put him in his crib for his afternoon nap, he seemed to know something was different. He gave me this look like “What do you mean goodbye?” and started crying. Not his typical “How-dare-you-have-the-audacity-to-put-me-in-my-crib?” cry, but a more confused and hurt cry. I wanted to cry with him. I realized that even at a little over a year old, he’ll miss me, too.
I hugged his mom before leaving, and we promised to keep in touch and plan some play dates this summer, then I got in my car and headed to the grocery store to meet some local moms to learn about babywearing before heading to my prenatal yoga class. And just like that, I closed the door on one part of my life and stepped into what the future holds. From nanny to (almost) mommy in the time it took to drive to the grocery store.
Just like Anthony’s excitement as he discovers the world around him—things grown-ups find mundane, I’m sure—whether it’s snow boots, or chalk, or the power to make his nanny say “Cheers!” every time she drinks from her water bottle, I’ve been absolutely fascinated on this journey toward motherhood. My amazement over the miracle of growing a human being inside my own body could be its own blog altogether, but then there are all these “mundane” things that I just can’t get enough of. Like babywearing. There is a whole world of babywearing phenomena, jargon, community groups, styles, fabrics—the list goes on!—that I didn’t even know existed until a couple of weeks ago. I thought people just bought some kind of stretchy wrap so that they could cook dinner once in a while. Boy was I wrong! Stretchy wraps are just the tip of the iceberg. The hour I spent picking the brains of those lovely women at the grocery store was so much fun but not enough. And I can’t wait to learn more and have my own baby to snuggle close and wear around the house, to the store, or to the park.
And babywearing is only one of my latest obsessions. There are also the Facebook groups on so many topics for local moms to support each other. Then there’s cloth diapering, something that a year ago, even a few months ago, I swore I would never want to do. Now I completely geek out when someone else talks about cloth diapers when I don’t even have a baby wearing them yet! And don’t get me started on the baby laundry or the nursery. When I go to work it takes great willpower to stop creating mental lists of what else I can organize or decorate in the nursery the second I get home. When my husband and I have friends over for dinner I have to remind myself often that they don’t care about which laundry detergent I finally settled on or how many loads of adorable baby clothes I washed and hung up in our baby girl’s makeshift closet.
All these little things that I daydream about and fill my time with as I wait for our little one to arrive fill me with such joy and wonder, and the real adventure has yet to begin. While my last Tuesday with Anthony was bittersweet, it filled me with so much anticipation for being a mama. I want to have Anthony’s sense of wonder and awe at every little discovery as I watch my daughter grow up. I hope I remember to have the patience with her that I managed to have on Tuesday with Anthony’s typical toddler behaviors because I chose to treasure those memories. My year with that little boy was beautiful and taught me so much. I can’t believe how blessed I am to have a lifetime of loving my own baby ahead of me!