When you were just born and tiny, your favorite place to sleep was skin-to-skin, listening to my heartbeat. Then, as you grew, your place became tucked into my body in the night—and I know there are camps out there against co-sleeping, but my sanity meant resting while I could, and we both slept better when we were together.
It took you a year to sleep by yourself in your crib. I remember that first night I was a mess, wondering if you needed me, if every time you woke up, I should go in—the way I always had. You woke up only once, and since then you have slept easily through the night.
I’m lucky—don’t I know it.
You are so very much a two-year-old. Learning what is yours, pushing boundaries every day in a quest for independence and autonomy away from me, and I know all of that is good and healthy.
Except, except—oh my heart—I stood outside your door tonight and waited, listening while you cried and quieted down after you had woken up calling for me and I had gone to you (of course I had gone to you), and after changing your diaper, I asked if you wanted to be rocked, or snuggled, or read one more song or sung one more story.
You told me to just go, to just leave you alone, and so I did. I told you I loved you and I closed the door and I waited. Less than the time it took me to sit down outside and write this, you were already back to sleep.
There are so many things they leave out about motherhood—not the wonder and joy of it, but the heartbreak too. Your life changes instantly, and you become needed—truly needed—such that it supersedes all other things in life: sleep, showers, solitude, food.
Or at least it did for me.
You were and are, since the second you were born, the most important thing in my life—but now, you already need me less and less.
I see how it will continue. You will grow and find your way in the world because you don’t really belong to me, you belong to yourself. You just belong with me, and only for such a little while.
And while I will never love the shape of your square feet or your tiny curls or your hands any less than I do in this moment, while I will continue to love you with everything I know how to give, you will inevitably pull away and live more of your life away from me.
They don’t tell you how much that reality will blindside you as a mother, leaving you stretched out and weeping for the distance you don’t know how to fill back in.
What the f*ck am I ever supposed to do to fill that hole? How will anything ever compare?
I am trying. I am writing and painting and doing more yoga in an attempt to pull back pieces of me with the extra space.
I am especially emotional now—in part because I have had multiple pregnant clients this week with their beautiful bellies, and my body remembers and holds the last three-plus years of our life together, in part because I know that today, there is still only the three of us and no one else on the way, in part because since the moment your blinked into existence and I knew you were real, I have only wanted to be your mother.
I am having to let go, which might one of the hardest things for me to do anyway. I know it’s for the best, and that you will call if you need me. Just know that if you do, if you do decide you need me, I will come.
I will always be just a “Mama” away.
Author: Savana Suniga
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Danielle Beutell
Social Editor: Danielle Beutell