You were born right on time, full term, healthy, fat, and sweet. Even so, I wasn’t ready for you. They say, “having a baby changes everything.” I anticipated change. But what did that mean? I couldn’t foresee the specific changes that your life started in mine. Through all of the changes that followed your birth, you shone and continue to shine brightly.
My earliest years as a mother were super challenging for me. And, I have many bright memories of you from those years. You were a bold little character. Always observing. Always in motion. Every aspect of you was like that. Leading the way around the neighborhood. Demonstrating how you felt, in behavior before you had words. Once you started talking you just kept talking. You reached every milestone, succeeded through every challenge, on your own time, in your own way, with perpetual momentum, shining in the middle of it all, without a flicker or pause. The more time I had with you, the brighter you appeared to me. That’s how I saw you and how I continue to see you.
Today, I think good mothering is super challenging to all the moms who are practicing it. In my 13, almost 14, years as your mother, I’ve learned a few vitally important lessons for my mothering practice. In no particular order and with constant repetition:
- See North’s light
- Recognize that North’s light is his alone
- Tend North’s light
- Teach North to tend his own light
- Celebrate North’s light
Watching you growing up and exploring the world made being alive appear so interesting, surprising, new, active, ever expanding, and attractive to me. In that way, your light provided me with a beacon. The combination of witnessing your development and interacting with you as your mother led me back to an honest, engaged, fully-feeling life and back to myself, my essential Jenni-ness.
You already know that I live with chronic depression. (When you’re older, we might talk about what that has meant in my life.) Like many women, I became very depressed after I gave birth. Treating my postpartum depression started me on a path to finally receiving appropriate medication and therapy for the depression I’d experienced since I was teenager. In a long series of small improvements, I regained control of my life. Control in the sense of making more thoughtful, healthy, and often challenging choices about how I would live each day. I took that path so that I would be a good mother to you. I was surprised when it also led to being good to me.
Today, I think that practicing good mothering of you taught me the same vitally important lessons for caring for, or mothering, myself. I have my own light. I must tend to it, using tools I’ve learned in therapy and from other guides and experiences. I must celebrate my light, and while I’m still learning what that means I think it’s something about shining it on purpose by sharing my perspective, insights, ideas, and creativity.
I love you, North. I see your light. I honor that it is yours. I respect who you are today and the adult that you are growing into. I am grateful to you and to our relationship for the ways that mothering you changed me. You are a bright light.