I remember the bleary days spent trying to drink enough caffeine so that I could properly answer the phone without crying.
Lack of sleep and postpartum depression (which had followed prepartum depression - depression while pregnant) had me in such a state that when my beloved ice maker broken, I found myself prostrate with grief - I could barely function. It was as though a long-lost friend had died, and, let me tell you, I am not the sort of person who normally weeps over broken appliances.
I'd call someone: my mom, a friend, whomever, and they'd always say this...
"Enjoy these moments, they grow up so fast."
I'm not sure why anyone would say that to someone so out of her mind from lack of sleep and caring single-handedly for a child so needy that I had to bring him to the bathroom with me - if he couldn't see me, he'd freak out and I'd have to spend the next three hours soothing him.
Miserable wasn't a word that carried enough weight - I was downright suicidal (a year of no sleep will do that to a person), and the people I'd called for comfort simply offered me that guilt-inducing statement.
I did, in fact, love my son. I did also, in fact, need a damn break. The guilt didn't help - like he and I were supposed to be running through a field of sunflowers rather than screaming every thirty seconds he didn't have a breast in his mouth.
I enjoyed many of those moments; I'd been so anxious to have another baby that I genuinely adored him, difficult or not, and was beyond thrilled that he was in my life.
I signed that baby up for kindergarten on Monday.
I could hardly believe that he was the same squalling infant, as I held his hand through the hallowed halls of his older brother's former elementary school. He looked up at me, made several fart jokes, then launched into his laugh - the sort of laugh that makes everyone nearby join in. It's just that full of joy.
I remember all the small moments we had as he grew; I remember the love I felt (and still feel for him). And I cannot - genuinely - believe how much he's grown. He's no longer a baby or a toddler - he's a big boy, ready to go to big boy school (rather than preschool). He loves to joke and play, scampering about with his siblings, playing their own made-up games.
And when I look at my son as he is now, I remember those sleepless nights and those days that appeared so bleak. The tiny moments of joy we found together. The thrill I felt when I watched him take his first step, then his second. Soon, he'd taken off running, scampering after his big brother.
And in two weeks, he will go off to school, his backpack full of nifty kindergarten supplies, and I will cry. Not because the ice maker isn't working or I haven't slept in three years, no.
This time, it will be tears of joy. Of pride. Of happiness.
My son, I am beyond proud to be your mother.
I can only hope to make you as proud of me as I am of you.