Editor's note: This article was originally published on Anita Fowlers' blog, Live Like You Are Rich. It has been republished here with permission.
Before I had my son I had all kinds of concerns. I would wonder: What if he was this way or that way? What if he had a disability? What if I wasn't a good mom? What if ...
Then I read a conversation between two women online. One woman (pregnant with her first) commented that she was so nervous that her baby may be physically limited, not healthy, etc. I'll never forget how an experienced mother responded. She said, "Hun, I know before I had kids I had lots of worries, concerns and the unknown was a bit scary. Now that I have kids of my own I understand that I'll love them each unconditionally. Once you have your baby you'll realize that the love you have for him/her trumps everything that could possibly happen. Realizing what it is like to love as a mother is the most amazing thing."
Her comment put me at ease. And now that I have a child and one on the way I can say that I have experienced those feelings as well. The love that I have for my son is incredible and I only imagine that it will grow. One thing I know is that I will love him for eternity. I know that no matter what happens with the baby I'm pregnant with that I will love her just as much as well.
That said, there are some moments that are better than others. As much as I enjoy changing blowouts, scrubbing stains from laundry and picking up toys, the times mentioned below are the moments that make me realize just how much I love my little guy. I truly think they are really important moments and memories that parents should keep stored in their memory bank for when times get a little tough.
The trick to cultivating these moments is to be present/conscious of them. Remembering the times when your heart is melting or bursting with love for your little one will bring joy again and again.
1- Laughing together
Some of my favorite moments are when we both find something funny. It's just adorable to both laugh at the same thing spontaneously!
2- Blowing on Tummies
I make Denali (my son) crack up laughing as I blow on his tummy. Lately, whenever I'm lying down he will come over and lift up my shirt off of my tummy. Then he blows on it and we both get a kick out of it. It is so fun to see him reciprocate what he finds so silly.
3- Playing games together
Peek-a-boo, tickle monster, or chasing each other in a game of, "Here I come " I'm going to get you " GRRRR" and watching their cute chubby legs run away. Seeing that they just love spending time with you and don't want it to end is super sweet.
My heart melts when I get a kiss, especially if it is a spontaneous kiss that I didn't ask for!
5- Singing together
I'll often break into song because I always adore it when Denali starts "singing" along with me. Although he can't say the words, he tries to match the notes/tone as best as he can and it is crazy cute.
6- Dancing together
My son loves to watch me spin. Whenever I spin he laughs and spins himself. We have short little dance parties whenever a catchy song comes on the radio or TV. We both enjoy spinning and dancing together. I love it in the car when he is strapped into his car seat and he starts moving his legs to the beat of a song.
7- Welcome home
When we come back from a date night out or other event and he comes running to me or his dad with his arms wide open and a huge grin on his face. To be welcomed home like that over and over is just joyous.
8- Swinging him around in a circle on the grass
It's so cute watching his huge smile and bulging eyes as he goes 'round and 'round. It's the funniest thing seeing him stagger around for a minute while he gets over the dizziness and the yard stops spinning around him.
9- I love it when Denali plays with (not pulls) my hair
He sometimes just likes to stroke my hair or gently play with it and looks at it with such wonder. I have blonde hair and both he and his dad have black so I think he finds it fascinating.
10- Despite not loving to get up at 3 a.m. to a crying baby, I do love rocking him to sleep.
While my son is sick or teething he usually will go down better if I sing to him and rock him to sleep. I love holding him and listening to him breathe as he sleeps away. Sleeping toddlers are just adorable. When they fall asleep while driving it is so fun to look in the rear view mirror and see their chubby cheeks squished against the side of the car seat.
11- Going to the lake or pool
When going to the lake or pool to swim, I notice how tight he holds on to and squeezes me as we first get into the water. I feel how much I mean to him when we are in that different situation. He just squeezes a hold of me and won't let go. Being considered such a safe haven is pretty awesome.
If you have a son like mine, cuddling is a rarity. When I get my son up from a nap I make every effort to cuddle with him and cherish those squeezes before he is up and raring to go.
13- Seeing your toddler do something you never knew they could do before
The other day I was washing my son's high chair tray in the kitchen sink as he was playing around on the ground. When I turned around he was sitting up in his highchair! After this happened a few times (every time while my back was turned) I decided to bait him to see how he climbed up into it all alone. I put a small piece of chocolate at the top of the back of the high chair seat and watched him quickly scale the front of it and hoist himself into the highchair using hands, arms and legs.
Now my husband and I have him get himself up into it before each meal. He is constantly learning, exploring and trying out new things. It's amazing to watch or figure out how they've accomplished a new trick if you didn't see them in the act!
14- Piggy back rides
Sometimes we will be sitting on the couch and my son will climb up onto the couch and come up behind me. I'll grab his hands lift him onto my back and give him a quick piggy back ride, making sure to stop by a few mirrors so he can laugh at what it looks like to be on mommy's back. He loves it and so do I!
15- Realizing that no matter if you know it or not your toddler thinks you are constantly playing hide and seek.
I will go to my room and no matter what my son is doing, sooner or later he finds me. If I'm in the bathroom he will come knocking " and demanding to be let in. If I go outside to take out the trash he looks out the window and starts banging on it, trying to get my attention. It's actually pretty endearing to see such a cute little guy seek me out over and over (all day long) day in and day out.
16- The way they look and smell after they are freshly bathed
There is something so cute about a clean, fresh smelling baby.
17- When they go to sleep happily
Lately, Denali has just loved his "nigh' nigh'" time. We get him ready and changed, give kisses, say prayers and lie him down in the crib and he does it happily, I love it. When he does everything with a compliant and even eager attitude it is awesome because it's so wonderful to finish off the day with a happy bedtime moment.
18- Family hugs
Whenever my husband and I hug, Denali comes rushing over and tries to stand in between our legs and climb up to get a hug as well. We can never hug without him demanding to be a part. So we lift him up and do a family bear hug. He LOVES them and so do we. Doing family bear hugs often is so fun!
19- Hearing them say Mama or Dada
There is something magical about a toddler learning and associating a word with you. When he wakes up from his nap and he just starts calling out, "MaMa! MaMa!" I can't help but go get him as soon as possible. When "DaDa" drives up from work and I tell him that "Dada is home, Dada is home" and he runs to the door and waits impatiently for him to come in. It melts my heart every time he says mama or dada. Every time.
These are the types of memories that should be remembered, written down, cherished, and filed away in the memory database. They help strengthen the love of a parent, they brighten the days when parenting is really tough, and they are also for reminiscing during later years when your child is too old to enjoy these simple moments.