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IMG_0776This week’s gratitude challenge is so ridiculously easy. It’s my son’s ninth birthday, so naturally he’s in the forefront of my mind, as well as the day he was born and all the challenges we’ve faced together.

See, I never saw myself as a mom. I was going to get my PhD and take on the world in some grand capacity. Halfway through graduate school, something kicked in and I began crying through baptisms and Johnson and Johnson commercials. I needed a baby. NOW.

My pregnancy was anything but the glowing ideal you see on TLC. There was a lot more hurling than I’d anticipated, complications and scares. But on a bitterly cold January morning, the doctors removed him from me and I fell irrevocably in love with my new little man. A linebacker of a newborn, he was perfect.

Here’s where the “been through the war” part begins, and I’m writing this not to garner sympathy, but to acknowledge that post-partum depression is real, and so is colic, and being so sleep-deprived you’re nauseated, bat-shit crazy and ready to murder the next person who gives you unsolicited advice.

But it passes. You navigate the shifting of the earth and your entire existence up to that point. You fall in love every single day with the little smiling being you created. Maybe it’s because we had such a traumatic start (long story), but my son and I have a bond so deep it’s obvious to perfect strangers. He and I operate on our own wave length. I know every aspect of him, and it scares me sometimes when I see him doing some of the things I did as a child — the awkwardness, shyness, sensitivity. But then I see other things — his kindness, empathy and perceptiveness that exceeds his years.

I never saw myself as a mother. Now I know he and his sister are the biggest reasons for my existence. Sure, I have other purposes to fulfill, but I was meant to be his mom. He and I belong to each other. Even when he joins the adult world and makes a life of his own, I know our bond — and knowing I have his back unconditionally — will give him a sturdy base from which to leap.

That unbreakable bond? You bet I’m grateful.