Letter to No on his first half birthday

Noah,In about fifteen minutes you will be six months old. Half a year! I can't believe it. I don't even want to believe it because it means you aren't always going to be my tiny, chubby-cheeked and giggling baby. Why does that make my eyes burn and my throat close? I want you to grow and have a beautiful and vivid life but paradoxically I never want you to age a day. I don't want you to ever stop needing me for food, entertainment, and comfort. It's so hard to think that some day (if God is gracious) you'll have babies of your own to love and care for. I wish loving you weren't so sharp and cutting as it is--all these feelings and worries of time whipping by and me missing something or letting you down.

It's worse late at night, like tonight, when the effort and care of the day has left my emotions ragged and raw. Then even the joy of holding you hurts, like gazing into the sizzling July sun. I'm so thankful for you, though, and I hope that not a single day goes by without me reminding you how precious you are to me.

Noah, I feel like I should apologize to you and Jude every single day for being such a sub-par mother. I leave you in another woman's arms for 13 hours a day only to pass you back and forth between your jumper, Father, and me when I get home while I attempt to finish the laundry. I feel so much guilt over this; I'm virtually a leper around other Christian moms. When I got married 4 years ago, I brought with me ALL of my college tuition in loans. Your daddy added to the pile with his own loans and thousands racked up on a credit card he never should have qualified for. Add in 2 delightful, yet surprising births and our little family has been seriously weighed down by debt. That being said, my entire paycheck pays only for you and your brother's daycare / preschool tuition and our bills.

Don't get me wrong. I love my job and the people I work with, but I love my two boys too and feel constantly torn between providing for your physical needs or for your emotional / spiritual ones. I try to do both, obviously, but I am constantly wrecked with guilt and shame at being the one mom in Home group that doesn't stay home. It's not anything anyone says or does in home group--they're so encouraging and sweet! It's just the inevitable contrast between us that's always staring me down.

I feel like it demands an explanation why I'm not at home. The worst part is when your daddy and I serve at Little Village and the other moms assume I'm a stay at home mom too. It's humiliating to admit that I'm not because we can't afford for me to quit. But it's unbearable to let them think that I love my job more than my children. I wish more moms understood how much it hurts not only to have to work but also to have to explain it to everyone as if you were branded with a giant $ on your forehead.

Sweet No, how I wish I could capture every moment with you. That's why I am always snapping photos. I'm like a chronic amnesiac. I fear that without tangible reminders, my memory of your infancy will evaporate in a misty burst and I'll have nothing at all. If I could only keep a few things, a mere handful of moments with you, here's what I'd tenderly safeguard:

+ Your laugh! You have the single most infectious laugh! It bubbles up from your belly button and chortles out, big, round, and full!

+ Your sweet baby noises---cooing, huffing, and breathing heavily---as you sleep.

+ Your sweet fingers that grip mine so tightly when you're eating, as if you think I might try and slip away while you're in mid-supper.

+ Your dinosaur noises when you lie on your aquatic playmat and attempt to eat your entire foot.

I could go on and on but it's nearly midnight and you kept me up most of last night. Just know that I love you. I'm a BIG fan of you! And I pray always that God will give you a bold and merciful heart that loves him, fears him, seeks him, and praises him all the days of your life.

All my love,

Mommy

Jenny Smith

3705 Oceanview Drive, Denton, TX, 76208