Tomorrow, our Charles Kolbe will be one year old. One year ago today, I woke up after a restless, nervous night, suspicious that I’d go into labor soon.
I worked from my living room couch that day, wrapped up some last minute things, and shut my computer at 3:00 P.M. because I was falling asleep. I took a two-hour nap on the couch, asked Dave to run out and get me some chicken noodle soup for dinner, ate it with Saltines left over from my first trimester, and then snuggled up with Dave on the couch to watch Return of the King (we’d been working our way through the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a distraction). I started feeling Braxton-Hicks contractions growing stronger around 8, and by 9, I told Dave to turn off the movie because I couldn’t focus anymore. By 11, I knew this was the real thing. I had had grand plans of showering and straightening up the house and eating a breakfast sandwich when I was in labor, but my contractions were so strong from the start that I could barely stand through them, let alone get anything productive done. We didn’t sleep at all that night, and finally left for the hospital at 5 in the morning…the most surreal drive of my life, knowing that the next time we were in the car, our baby would be there with us and nothing would ever be the same.
And it hasn’t been. After 18 hours of labor, Charlie was born at 6:28 P.M. on Thursday, September 22, 2016. The first day of fall, and a new season in every single way. I had thought that having him would mean adding “mother” to the list of titles I already held…Catholic, wife, sister, daughter, writer, etc. What I didn’t realize was that it wasn’t just an add-on–becoming a mother changed and impacted every facet of who I was and who I am. Nothing–no part of me and no part of my life–has been the same. That idea scared me so much when I was pregnant, but as I’ve seen it come to fruition over the last year, I’ve seen God’s hand in my life more gently and lovingly than ever before. He has guided me into this new role, and this vocation that He chose for me, from the day I saw the word “Pregnant” and almost fainted on my bathroom floor, to the day the midwife put the tiny dark-haired, blue-eyed boy on my chest, to now, when I’m watching that same precious boy, asleep in his crib, on the baby monitor while I type this.
No one has ever said motherhood was easy, and it is not. This has been the hardest year of my life…but it has also been the best. I have collapsed into bed sobbing at the end of the day, exhausted and frustrated and disgusted by the selfishness I’ve seen in myself, convincing me I’m a terrible mom and that God grossly overestimated me by giving my son to me. I’ve looked into Charlie’s perfect blue eyes and felt my heart pounding practically out of my chest with love because in him, I see my incredible husband who I have never loved more, and I see myself, and I know that it’s because of our love that this boy exists, and that is breathtaking. I’ve watched Charlie learn so many new things and I’ve gotten to know him as a unique little person, with gifts and passions all his own that are yet to be uncovered. I’ve ugly cried in the shower more times than I can count because I don’t know what I’m doing and I want to be a good mom SO BADLY and sometimes, I feel like anything but. I’ve knelt beside Charlie’s crib in the middle of the night and watched his sweet little lips fall open, his hands curled up beside him, his soft curls falling over his forehead, and I’ve begged God to help me remember this, him, just as he is now, because I’m so painfully aware that before I know it, it’ll be his last night under my roof before going to college and right now, I can’t even bear the thought. There are days that I wish away and days that I literally want to live in forever and ever. Will motherhood always feel this profoundly bittersweet? I think it might.
Charlie, I don’t know if you’ll ever read this, but I like to think that you will someday. It is because of you that I am becoming who God created me to be, and for the rest of my life, I hope to help you become who God is calling you to be too.
Happy first birthday, my sweet baby. We love you more than life.
Newborn photo by Callie Davis, last family photo by Rachel Linder of Blue Barn Photography
Lisa, I just ugly cried reading this. Thank you for your witness of the true, good, hard, and oh so beautiful vocation of motherhood. I’m so grateful to journey alongside you in it. Happy birthday to Charlie- and happy birth day to you!
Sadie, I am SO grateful for you and our smallest small group :) You are such an encouragement to me in motherhood!
I’m not a mom (yet- maybe one day!), and I’m not a cryer- but wow, this post brought tears to my eyes. So sweet, and so beautifully written. Thank you for giving your readers a little glimpse into your world!
Thank you so much for your sweet words, Katie–it means so much to me!
Such a beautifully written post, Lisa! I’m shocked at how dark Charlie’s hair was when he was born! I’d completely forgotten! :)
Also, THIS: “[I’ve] felt my heart pounding practically out of my chest with love because in him, I see my incredible husband who I have never loved more, and I see myself, and I know that it’s because of our love that this boy exists, and that is breathtaking.”
I can only imagine what that must feel like, but reading that gave me chills! Wishing Charlie the happiest 1st birthday and YOU the happiest one year anniversary on becoming a GREAT mom! xo!
Thank you SO much, friend! It is definitely always the weirdest feeling to see myself and Dave not only in the way Charlie looks but in the way he acts. It’s nothing short of miraculous!
And I know, right? His hair has lightened up so much!
What a touching post. I could relate in SO many ways – the ugly cries (SO many ugly cries), the constant worrying about whether or not I’m a good mom and doing all I can for my baby, and of course the crushing, all-encompassing love for my baby girl. You know you got it bad when you look at photos on your phone of your baby while they’re sleeping! ;)
You are rocking this mama thing! Happy Birthday to Charlie! What a momentous day tomorrow will be – for BOTH of you!
Oh yes…every night, even if we’ve spent an hour begging him to go to sleep, haha! :)
You are an amazing mama, Bethany! Thank you so much for your encouragement!
Lisa i can’t keep reading your blog if you make me cry like this! Beautifully written words. Well done, friend:)
I love you and am SO thankful God gave us baby boys at the same time!!
I can’t even believe sweet Charlie will be one tomorrow!! I definitely cried reading this whole thing! It hits so close to home for me as you know! You have been such an amazing mother to Charlie and I have loved experiencing our little boys growing up together! We love you!
Aww, thank you! It is such a joy and a sweet blessing to have boys so close together, and I can’t wait to see them continue to grow up as best buddies :)
SO sweet Lisa!!!!! Tearing up as I read this! So beautiful. You’re such a good mom and are total #momgoals and #familygoals for me! :)
Oh my goodness, Abby, you are so sweet! Thank you so much for your encouragement <3
Congratulations on ONE YEAR of parenthood to you and Dave. We are so happy for this milestone and so blessed to be your friends. I hope we can all celebrate together one day soon. <3
Thank you so much! Y’all have been such a blessing and encouragement to us from day one. We love you!
This was beautiful, Lisa! I’m so excited for the day when I become a wife and mother, and this post beautifully shows the great and not-so-obviously great sides of being a mom. You’ll likely look back at this post fondly one day! :)
Thank you so much, India! Being able to look back and remember different seasons is definitely one of my favorite things about blogging :)
Lisa, what a beautiful post. I’m not a mom (yet – we will see what the Lord has in store for me one day) and therefore can’t understand most of what you have been experiencing in the past year. But I know for sure that if I get to be a mom one day I pray that I will be as graceful as you seem to be and to be relying on God every step of the way just as you are. Happy birthday to Charlie – He seems to have gotten very very lucky in the parent department!
Thank you so much, Kristina! I certainly don’t feel graceful most of the time, but God has been so faithful and so generous in pouring out His grace, thankfully :) I always appreciate your kind encouragement so much!
This made me cry. And for the record, you are a GREAT mama!
Thank you so much, Maureen–I’m so glad this post resonated with you <3
Happy Birthday, Charlie! And congrats mama and dad! :)
Thank you so much!
I LOVE HIM SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WORLD’S BEST BABY!!! He has amazing parents!!!!!!
World’s best aunts too! <3
Just beautiful, friend. The line that stuck with me: “It is because of you that I am becoming who God created me to be, and for the rest of my life, I hope to help you become who God is calling you to be too.” What more could we hope for from motherhood?
Thank you! Couldn’t agree more <3
this is beautiful! happy birthday little one!
Thank you so much, Molly!
Awww my sweet little godson! He’s changed our family in the best of ways! Love his little, chub self! You’re amazing!
Love you, Aunt Dana!!
[…] Thank you so, so much for your kind words and encouragement on this post about my first year of motherhood. I was in tears reading the comments–I feel so blessed to […]
The paragraph beginning with “No one has ever said motherhood was easy..” is the best paragraph you’ve ever written! So truthful and heartfelt. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you so much, Emma–I really appreciate your kind words!