Seventeen Months

Today is Labor Day.  We celebrate the contributions of hard working people to our country. Seventeen months ago was another sort of labor day, a day of contractions and surgery and overwhelming fatigue, but a day that was, at its core, a celebration of you and the gift of your life.
Back then, on the day of your birth, you were unknown to me in so many ways.  You were a cute, sweet, sleepy baby, not so different in size from the doll babies you carry everywhere with you these days.  I couldn't have imagined you as you are now - running, talking, requesting activities ("poool...poool"), eating nearly as much as I do at some meals.
I am beginning to understand now why grandmothers always talk about how raising small children was the best time of their lives.  I am already forgetting so many of the hard things about your earliest days - the hours and hours you'd scream and refuse to eat, the spit-up that you regularly spewed in giant puddles, the days where your longest nap was 25 minutes, the terrible, horrible sleep training cry fests.  I remember these facts, but I am losing my sense of the emotional reality that went with them.  It no longer seems so terrible as I know it felt then.
We still have our challenges for sure - the tears that arise when your babies can't join you at the dinner table or in the bath tub, the way you sometimes bite and hit in anger, your clinginess - and I know there will be more to come.  Life is hard and messy.  I know that life with you will always have hard and messy elements.

But today, this Labor Day, we visited our pool one last time.  We sat together in the baby pool, side by side.  I blew bubbles in the water over and over, just to see your little face break into a giant smile and to hear you say with delight, "Mommy. Bubbles." because you wanted me to do it again.

Laboring to bring you into the world and laboring through the challenges that came along with you has been so worth it, Ellie Girl.  It has been labor:  real, tough, hard labor.  But it has also been celebration:  rich, deep, vibrant celebration.