Counting Breaths: A Poem for my Infant Son


Counting breaths
As you lay there next to me without a care
because you know you’re cared for, know you’re loved
know if you reach your little hand out just a bit you will find my warm body next to you
Know you can wiggle a little closer less than half awake
and find nourishment, warmth protection
at 8 months old doubt doesn’t exist for you
But for me…..
I’m counting breaths
Scared that they might stop coming
Though my instinct tells me they probably won’t
Scared that you might just be that horrific statistic they’ve all drilled into my head
You’re so tiny and fragile and though I try to keep you safe
It terrifies me the things that could happen
After 8 months I cannot imagine a life without you
So I’m counting breaths
I imagine you’ll live and grow up just fine
In a few months time I’ll stop losing sleep over the dreaded SIDS
But I know a mothers worry doesn’t end there
Soon my sweet baby will be a fearless toddler ready to explore the world
Getting into all kinds of places and things I’d rather you didn’t
And you’ll do it without a care
because you know Mommy and Daddy are there to save you
when things get to be too much for you to handle.
But I’ll worry
Worry about you climbing out of bed at night
Or over the baby gate
Worry that you’ll wiggle out of your car seat while going down the road
Worry that I’ll never get a chance to sit down
Or sleep or eat or use the bathroom in peace again
But late at night when you’ve finally worn yourself out
I’ll look at your angelic face and wonder
how such a tiny little guy could be such a big handful
And I’ll count your breaths
But those toddler days will fly by
And soon you’ll be a big kid
And I’ll have a whole new set of worries.
Because you’ll leave me sometimes.
And you’ll test me sometimes
And you’ll have to learn to be your own person.
But there will still be those rare moments
when you climb up into my lap
for no reason and all
And for just a few minutes I’ll get to hold you
And remember how I used to hold you when you were small
And I’ll count your breaths
Then you’ll be a teenager
And you’ll be growing into a man
You’ll have your own thoughts and opinions
And though I will try to respect you I won’t always understand you
And though I will teach you to respect me, you’ll sometimes test your limits
You will say things you don’t mean and do things I said you shouldn’t
And I will try to be supportive but sometimes I’ll get angry too
And wonder why you aren’t acting like a rational adult
But then I’ll remember that you aren’t one yet.
That even as a young man you’re still a boy who needs his mother
A boy who not long ago was just a baby cuddled next to me
As I counted his breaths
Eventually the teenage years will pass and you will be a man grown
And I will be proud of your accomplishments
and love you no matter what you choose to do with your life
So long as you are a good person
As I hope I have taught you to be
Perhaps you’ll choose to have children of your own
Then you will one day know what it is to lay awake as I have
Full of worry
But also love
As you count each little breath


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