Everything he needs

May 12, 2012

I was so hard on myself when I was pregnant with my son.  I continued to beat myself up endlessly for the first year of his life. 

He’s five-years-old now, and there are so many things I’ve learned since then.

I wish I could go back and tell my 29-year-old self all the things I know now.  There were so many simple joys I missed out on while I was busy trying to be the perfect mother.

During my pregnancy, I spent so much time and money obsessing over preparations for the baby’s arrival.  I thought about it every second of every day from the moment I found out I was expecting. 

Yes, growing a human being inside your body is weird.  And cool.  And it is important to be ready for your life to change. 

That being said, there are nearly seven billion people on the planet, and every single one of them started out the same way.  Pregnancy and childbirth are fairly routine.

During my pregnancy and the first six months of my son’s life, I bought 68 baby bottles.  I was searching for the absolute best bottle on earth. 

I saved all of it.  The bottles.  The clothes.  The books and toys and gadgets.  If I have another son, aside from diapers, wipes, and food, there is not a single thing I will have to purchase for him to live like a king.

If I have a daughter, I will simply buy some pink ribbons and lace, and sew them onto the existing clothes.  She’ll be all set.

What I wish I’d known six years ago is how little a child really needs to be happy.  My son has an entire storage system in the basement full of toys.  And those are just the leftovers from what doesn’t fit in his room. 

His current favorite playthings?  A homemade cardboard pirate ship and thumb tacks.  Yes, thumb tacks.  He loves them.  They are swords, or spaceships, or deadly death rays.

His love of thumb tacks is rivaled only by his love of toothpicks. He particularly loves the ones with little flags on the end that restaurants stick in the top of sandwiches. 

And don’t even get me started on popsicle sticks.  Our living room floor is currently covered in “sleeping darts” – popsicle sticks with pipe cleaners wrapped around the ends. 

After five years of parenthood, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that kids need a lot of things, but not the stuff the marketing geniuses convince us they need.

Children need to laugh really hard every day.  They need to know they are safe.  They need to know that someone believes they can accomplish anything. 

They need the freedom to try and fail.  They need to be forgiven for their mistakes, and praised mightily for their successes.  They need to be accepted for who they are.

They need to watch their parents thrive and be happy, so they can learn to do the same.  They need to learn not to sweat the small stuff.

My first Mother’s Day was filled with angst and insecurity that I was missing some crucial item for my infant son’s success in life. This Mother’s Day, I’m filled with peace, knowing that my son has everything he needs, and then some.

This article first appeared in the Lewistown News-Argus and the Sidney (Mont.) Herald on May 12, 2012.