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Four-Year-Old Mama

Very shortly I will turn 4 years old.

Four years ago I entered a birthing suite in American Fork, Utah, dropped 15 pounds, and emerged as someone new, someone my family likes to call Mom.

In a very real sense, I was born that day as they placed Laylee on my quivering Santa-like jelly belly. Tears instantly formed in my eyes, and I was suddenly overwhelmed, filled with love, and freakishly hungry.

jellybelly
Like a bowl full of jelly

In the hours that followed, many people came to visit, passing the boiled-looking newborn around, cooing, and crying tears of joy while I shoved my face full of broccoli. Family members were careful to only take pictures of the baby if I could be seen in the background cramming food down my throat with a ramrod.

shoving-broccoli
Mmmm...broccoli!
pose
Laylee works it for the cameras.

Ah, sweet memories. Laylee learned young to pose for the camera. There are other things that have taken her longer to grasp.

The moment we brought her home, all of the reading I had done, the planning, the saying "When I'm a mom, I'll never do that," flew out the window. I felt as a fledgling babe, unsure of myself, drooling on my collar, and asking for my mommy.

Somehow I learned to scootch, crawl, and eventually toddle around as a mother. There have been several defining moments in my first four years and many more quiet weeks of not much at all during which I've slowly become comfortable with my new role.

I lost much of my gag reflex at around three months of age, the day that Laylee threw up in my mouth.

brain
A rare photo of me during Magoo’s first month. Dan liked to catch photo ops when I wasn't shivering in a fetal position.

When Magoo was born and my brain went on the fritz, I learned that even though I'm the mom I still have needs and it is so okay for me to ask for help.

My initial attempt at potty-training boot camp with Laylee made me keenly aware that people will learn things at their own pace and if I treat them in a way that doesn't leave both our dignities intact, the results will be "crappy" for everyone involved.

Laylee had a friend with the same birth date. Her mother and I spent a lot of time together during their first year and we spent too much energy comparing them as a study in human development. Laylee talked first. (Should I start looking into special schools for my remarkably gifted child?) Ruby could practically walk when Laylee was barely learning to put weight on her legs. (Was Laylee doomed to spend her life as a cripple?) I eventually learned that comparisons are unhealthy and they will drive you totally mental.

I think the biggest development in my four years of life as a mother has been the trash-kicking my perfectionist streak has taken. In my humble 4-year-old opinion, chilled out is the new perfect.

chilled
Chillin' with my peeps

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