Today is my son’s birthday. My son has turned two. Today is my second birthday as a mother. As a parent. Today marks the end of our “thousand day journey”. The end of the thousand days that supposedly are the most important days in a human being’s entire life. The thousand days that make the foundations to my son’s health. The thousand days where anything he eats or drinks, has an influence on his health and well being as an adult. As I look back at those one thousand days. Day by day. I realize I did well for the most part. I gained weight within the healthy range during pregnancy. The quality of my food during pregnancy was also good. I exclusively breastfed for 6 months and continue to breastfeed. Today marks my 2 years breastfeeding.
Today I look at my 2 year old, and I see the fruit of the effort to be healthy. He is a healthy boy who loves to eat. Fruits are his favorite food, bananas in particular. So are vegetables, especially carrots and tomatoes. Also cucumbers. Who eats cucumbers? Today he ate a raw onion, then he decided he didn’t like it and threw it in his “soup”. The soup he was eating was actually not soup at all, it was meat stock left from me trying to make “fasolya”. After his preferences for fruits and vegetables comes lentils, eggs, chickpeas, and oats. Of course he likes bread, rice, and pasta. He is yet to taste chips or chocolate. His appetite is similar to a man’s but his physical activity allows him to stay within the healthy range.
Excuse my motherly pride, but as a mother you know this doesn’t come easily at all. Being a mother is the one thing I am so proud of. In evaluation of my performance as a mother though, what would I give myself for the thousand days of life? A 9? 10? Probably an 8. Even as a dietician I feel there’s a lot to learn. I wish I would have given him more calcium rich foods. I also wish I gave him fish much more often. I also wish I gave him more olive oil and probably a bit more whole grains. But, it’s a learning process. The learning slope is steep as a mom.
As my thousand days come to a close, I thought I’d feel myself missing the responsibility. The feeling of being responsible for his health and well being. Boy oh boy was I wrong. As the thousand days come to a close, I feel more responsibility. I am stepping into dangerous territory. A territory I have no control over. As a dietician I knew most of what I needed to know about his feeding patterns, and I learned as I went by. Now, I feel as lost as I was the first day he was born.
I remember when Karim was born and I was glued to google. I remember looking up “how long should a newborn breastfeed for” and I remember looking up “how long does a “normal” newborn sleep for”. As I am over the feeding issues and sleep issues, I find myself looking up “when is the right time to potty train” and “how to make a toddler listen to you” and “alternatives to saying no”. I find myself feeling more fear. I catch myself wondering: Is my irritation exaggerated? Is his behavior normal? Why am I doing everything wrong? What is right? Who do I go to for help? Is it because I need to spend more time with him? Or less time? Does he need more social interaction or physical activity? Is this because I have been dealing with things wrong all along? Or is this just normal and sprouting out of nowhere? And again what am I doing wrong?
I would take all the sleepless nights, all the food strikes, and all the endless breastfeeding, over a day of Nos. Karim you had fun? No. Karim you wanna go home? No. Karim you want to stay? No. Does Karim ever get dressed? No. Does he ever wear socks in the winter? No. Does he ever pee or poop in the toilet? No. But does he want to poop or pee in his diaper either? No. My thousand days of life are over, the thousand days that dictate his health and well being. However, a new thousand days are coming my way, and I bet it’s gonna be one hell of a ride. To all the moms of older children and the second moms. I need your advice. To my son, I wish you a very happy birthday. I hope this year you keep learning and experimenting and having a blast as you have been. I also hope you start giving me signs on how is the right way to do this. And I hope when the second one thousand days come to an end, that I’ll be able to evaluate my performance again, and give myself a passing grade. Because so far, it’s a 1 out of 10. The 1 is for the effort.