One of the first words (or sounds) that my son Tyler learned was “vroom-vroom,” referring, of course, to cars. In all 25 months of his existence, I watched him in awe as he grew day by day, a sponge to everything around him. For some reason, he came home one day with a perfectly enunciated version of “vroom-vroom,” probably picked up from the storytelling sessions we’d had since day one. I guess you could say it was the first day he was able to verbally proclaim his love affair with anything on wheels.
Part of raising a toddler is understanding what he is going through—all the physical, mental and emotional changes that are simultaneously happening, coupled with the frustration of not being able to communicate it all. So I indulge Tyler in the things I can fully understand about him at the moment. His fascination with cars is my own fascination right now. I would catch his attention (ergo, prevent a tantrum) while stuck in traffic by making up stories about the different types of vroom-vroom around us. Ambulances and police cars are easy favorites with their loud sirens, while fire trucks are a new curiosity as I try to explain what they do to help with the current water crisis in our area. Tyler also first learned about colors through cars. And if you get a chance to meet him, ask my little boy to point out the headlights, the taillights, the steering wheel, the wheels, the muffler and the side mirrors. You might just be impressed.
As a first-time mom, I am both overwhelmed and grateful in raising such a tiny human person. He has both my good and bad traits, and I just laugh at the inevitability of it all. Needless to say, I have had an emotional roller-coaster ride as I’ve struggled with my promotion from being a “new mom” to a “new and working mom.” Being in marketing means sneaking out of events just to pump milk in the car every other hour. I admit to pumping while driving as well—still with my seatbelt on (ask me how)—especially in between off-site meetings, and to bursting into tears almost randomly just because I’m just so damn tired. My personal time means taking 10-minute showers (and sometimes sticking an ear out for imaginary baby cries) and sipping cold coffee that wasn’t meant to be cold. A lot of times, Tyler would be clinging to me, which is a challenge as I’m a very light sleeper.
One day, my boy will grow up and turn his attention to things that have absolutely nothing to do with me
I could go on and on with the daily hurdles that every mom (or dad) should be all too familiar with (do not get me started on our yaya drama series), but one day it just clicked: I am so blessed! So blessed to be losing sleep all because I am raising and breastfeeding my child; so blessed to even have the ability to breastfeed; so blessed to be a wife to a loving husband; so blessed to have such a supportive family and a career that enables me to be a family woman. At the end of the day, I have a child I can call my own, and I’m fortunate enough to be able to buy him the toy cars he so loves.
It’s true: You will never fully appreciate your own mother until you become a mother yourself. That’s what I’ve learned. Flashbacks of the sacrifices my mom made for me (and even the arguments we had in the past) are enough to make me tear up as I write this piece. I know how my mom looks at me now—as her grown-up daughter with her own family—and I see the unconditional love and the longing in her weary eyes. I know and I fear that I will be looking at Tyler the exact same way many years from now. One day, my boy, who now needs me like the earth needs the sun, will grow up and turn his attention to things that have absolutely nothing to do with me. Such is the circle of life.
Maybe (or very likely) his love of toy cars will become a real-world passion. Or maybe his interest will shift to other pursuits—his friends, his career and (the biggest fear of all moms) his first girlfriend. By then, he will be able to make his own decisions and will probably only need me for general advice from time to time. There will be no more room for our silly, make-believe stories. No more vroom-vroom.
I know I can only plan so much for my son’s future as he will mature eventually, and I may or may not be an active part of his adult life. So I’m choosing to stay in the moment—in this present time when I’m the first person he looks for when he needs a hug or feels pain. I’m choosing to make sure he has the best childhood he can ever have, because I know it is an everlasting gift that nothing (not even a Ferrari) or no one else (not even a romantic partner) can provide. I know that now is the only time in his life when he will ever need me the most. And no matter how exhausting it is being a working mom, this thought powers me through each day like a robust diesel engine propels a mechanical workhorse.
It is enough to sustain me, and I am not letting go. For now, that is.