Ever since I saw two faint pink lines appear on a pregnancy test, my mind became consumed with my baby. I would feel for kicks and flutters all day long, distracting myself from the constant worry by planning out a gorgeous nursery and dreaming about future—first words, first steps, and all of the other firsts that moms swoon over. When my son was born, it was exactly what I had expected, from the sleepless nights to the hour long cuddle sessions with my mini-me and I loved just about every moment of it. Teething? Not so much.
But when my second son came along, I was left waiting—and waiting, and waiting and waiting—for our “Mommy and Me” bond to arrive. With the support of my husband and my mom squad, I am confident enough to admit that it took YEARS for us to have the strong connection that I yearned for. Yes, that’s right. It took me at least three years to bond with my sweet, smart and beautiful little boy and I must admit that it is still a learning process for both of us—and we are five years in today (happy birthday, my little love!).
So why am I writing this for thousands of people to read—and judge—my story? Because I know that there are other moms who struggle to bond with their babies right away and feel MASSIVE guilt about it. I know I did. Even though I nursed both of my boys for the same amount of time and raised them in the same house with the same wonderful husband, my youngest son and I struggled to have a connection. I was flabbergasted. I mean, I never had this issue with my oldest son. What was I doing wrong? What was wrong with me? Why was I such a bad mom?
My husband was the only one who could calm our little guy down when he couldn’t sleep at night, and when there was a “boo boo,” he always called for Daddy. It broke my heart every single time. While my oldest son wouldn’t leave my side, my youngest wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with me. And when people would tell me that they looked like twins, it felt like a sucker punch. Was that why he didn’t want me to hold him? Because I had soft features and he had more angular ones?
I would scroll through social media and see photos of moms happily baby wearing and cuddling with their sweet babies and I would be lying if I said I didn’t throw myself a pity party because my Instagram feed looked much different. I mean, those sweet moments were few and far between for us, and I soaked in every single second of them that the last thing I wanted was to disrupt our cuddle session just to take a photo.
How did things get better? Well, I don’t have a magic answer. Just like with anything, time helps everything, and it took YEARS for us to get into a “Mommy and Me” rhythm. It definitely helped when his older brother went to school so we could have time together, just the two of us. But as someone who works from home, I of course found it tricky to balance it all and found myself dealing with loads of guilt from all areas of my life. Until one day I came to a monumental realization after sharing my story with a trusted friend. She listened to me in a way that no one else had before. She didn’t share her insight, she didn’t compare her situation to mine. She simply listened. And just getting all of that out helped me came to a pivotal realization. No person—mom, sister, writer, teacher, etc.—is perfect.
Simply the acknowledgement of imperfection allowed me to relax and have more fun with both work and home life and I truly believe that this is what helped my sweet little boy and I have a positive breakthrough in our relationship. Now, I’m not saying that he doesn’t prefer to hold Daddy’s hand or sit next to him at restaurants (I mean, it just happened yesterday), but we now have our own special jokes and things that we love to do together, whether it is kicking the soccer ball around in the backyard, watching “Fixer Upper,” or toiling with puzzles for hours on end because I have truly let go of any expectations of what our “Mommy and Me” relationship SHOULD be like. I have embraced it for what it is and it has brought about a contentment and confidence that I never thought was possible.
So for all you moms who are struggling to have the “Mommy and Me” relationships that you dreamt about those nine months, I have one piece of advice: Let go of the expectations and simply embrace your time together. Because you know what? There is nothing like the love between a mom and her son.
And happy 5th birthday to my sweet little boy. I’m so lucky to be your mommy.
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