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The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch
  • Lessons of the heart

  • Ten years ago, April 6, 2004, I gave birth to a 7 pound, 1 ounce bouncing baby girl.
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  • Ten years ago, April 6, 2004, I gave birth to a 7 pound, 1 ounce bouncing baby girl.
     
    My youngest child, my baby, turned 10 on Sunday.
     
    I think back to the days when I brought that little girl home from the hospital. There isn’t anything that can quite describe the true meaning of sleep deprivation, especially in those first several weeks. What I’ve learned is that it lasts for a lifetime once you become a parent. Deep, restful, uninhibited sleep is gone forever.
     
    Since I became a parent, I have also learned that every storm my children and I weather is harder on me physically and emotionally than my children will ever realize until they become parents themselves.
     
    I remember after bringing baby home I had an indescribable ache for the person I was before I had children. It was a feeling I was ashamed to admit. Having a baby is too rewarding to feel like it was putting a damper on my care-free life and I felt guilty for feeling like I was “bound” to feeding schedules, nap routines, diaper changes and a diaper bag.
     
    In a sense, a part of me died the day each of my children was born; but a much kinder, gentler, more compassionate me was born the same day with both of them.
     
    Take, for example, the indescribable feeling of holding your brand new baby for the first time, to look into the eyes of your new baby for the first time. Seeing your new baby smile for the first time, hearing them laugh for the first time and all the “first times” you get to look forward to.
     
    There are unfortunate lessons too.
     
    The times they cling to you with a stomachache that you can’t kiss away, vaccination shots, bumps, bruises, broken bones and broken hearts.
     
    In the beginning it seems like a long time until they will grow up. Then one day you look at the clock and realize you have less time than you realized until they are legal adults, capable of making their own decisions and choices without first looking to you for guidance and assurance.
     
    That time will come when they no longer need me, and the carefree life I once ached for will return, only this time I won’t want that life back, at least not so soon.
    I still remember the first night I dashed to her crib in the middle of the night when she hadn’t awakened for her middle-of-the-night feeding. What I found was nothing more than a sleeping baby. For days after that fearful night I would wake up at the same time just to sneak into her room and whisper, “I love you,” in the dark.
    Page 2 of 2 - The days are whirring past, making me feel like I can’t absorb them properly. I look back at the baby pictures and wished I would have cherished each day with her more, played with her more and held her more, even though all the stupid books I read about pregnancy and parenting said not to do that.
     
    I still love gazing at her when she is asleep. I continue to find myself in awe that I can love someone so powerfully.
     
    This wonderful child is only on loan to us to raise, discipline and hopefully mold into an upstanding citizen, individual, young woman, wife and mother.
     
    A throbbing settles in my heart when I realize that I’ve made mistakes, I haven’t always been able to fix her hurts and I won’t always be one of the first people she turns to when she is in need of comfort.
     
    But what I have now, and for the next eight years, is the adventure of raising a beautiful daughter and a sense of accomplishment in my life.
     
    There is always one thing that will be for certain–I will always be her mother and she will always be my baby girl.
     

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