Last year was my first time to greet the holidays as a mother. To be completely honest, I never really thought of myself as the maternal type. However, I have had vague notions of having my own family, my own tribe, but everything was in the unfathomable “future.” It was still so far off in my mind that when I realized I was pregnant, it was a complete and utter shock -- not a bad one, but just a complete shock. I knew that everything was going to change, that certain things would become much harder to do (such as having the time to write angst-ridden poetry, backpacking in Eastern Europe by myself, or even just taking a shower), and that I would truly have to grow up because of that monumental realization that an innocent life is depending on me to get it through the first couple of years.
The big day arrived, which was brought in by the spectacularly incendiary pain that I never knew a human body could produce. Twelve hours later, I met my son for the first time. (I hear I had it easy, and I am giving a shout-out to those ladies who had 24-plus hours of labor. Bravo, ladies!) This happened one day in November, when I was getting to know not only my new body and the weird and wonderful things it could do, but also my son, who was an adorable wailing bundle of squirmy joy. Prior to giving birth and preparing for it, my son’s dad and I were actually making an Excel file of gifts and what we were going to do for the holidays. Needless to say, all of these plans were completely forgotten.
My son came out a healthy seven pounds and 11 ounces, with a very, very healthy set of lungs. I had read all about newborns, of course, and I have several girlfriends who have their own little bundles of joy, but boy, my boy could audition for a band. This was the first thing we noticed about him: He cries. He cries because he is hungry. He cries because his diaper is wet. He cries because his foot is exposed. He cries because he’s cold. He cries because he’s sleepy. He just cries. So instead of listening to Christmas carols and other ditties ushering in the Yuletide season, my soundtrack at that time was his cries.
His cries, however, were counteracted by that grasp he had on my finger when I hummed him to sleep, which I think is the reason why, when he’s sleepy, he has a pattern of hums to put himself to sleep. Also, because I did opt to room in since the day after he was born, he always knows when I am around, even though, as a full-time working woman, my biggest scare was that he would prefer his caregiver to me. He knows, just by looking at me, when I’m tired or when he can come wobbling by and trick me into picking him up. He was my gift last year -- indeed the best gift I’ve ever had. This year, I’ve decided to give him one back.
Though I cannot be a total stay-at-home mom (kudos to the ladies who are!) because I need to have my own activities, keep somewhat busy, and keep my work mine, I believe that I’ve done the next best thing. This year, I quit my highly lucrative, stimulating, and fast-paced advertising job at a prestigious multinational company. There were a lot of considerations which I did not take lightly. I love my work, I love my team, I love my company, but I love being with my son more. Though there were other reasons for why I made this seemingly crazy decision, the few days that I’ve been able to stay home and put him to sleep have been better than any winning pitch I have ever worked on or praise for a job well done I have ever received. If I succeed in finishing all the freelance work I’ve started on, preparing his milk for his night feeding, bathing him, and putting him to bed in under 30 minutes, I consider it a productive day. We are now talking about his first birthday and are planning to spend time, just the three of us, on a beach somewhere because he has never been to one. I’ll bake cupcakes for him. His birthday, after all, is the best part of our holiday season, and he is the best gift I could ever hope to receive.