Riley makes everything better.

I remember having doubts about my relationship with Rob even while I was pregnant. They were the same doubts I’ve had all along, the same doubts I’m having now. From the moment I realized that I loved him, I also knew there was something missing. Try as I might to figure out what that component was, I could never identify it.

Sometimes, I thought it had to be some major deficiency in one of us, or both of us. Other times, I thought I just hadn’t figured out my place in the world quite yet, and that that fact was making it hard for me to be someone’s significant other. A few times, I thought that the thing missing was definitely that unnameable thing that must be what keeps couples together for more than 50 years. It must be that glue, that ingredient X, that somethin’ somethin’ that Rob and I must not have. Or maybe there’s nothing wrong at all and there never has been, and I’ve simply gone a bit crazy from being deprived of sex apart from Rob for almost six months.

This is what I’m sure of: Rob has a way of making me doubt everything that I know, of twisting my insides until they don’t resemble anything comfortable or familiar, of creating the most unexpected realities out of thin air. Despite my love for him, the fact remains: he makes me more confused than anything or anyone ever could. And this makes me self-conscious, frustrated and insecure.

The way I feel about Riley is the exact opposite of this feeling.

I remember confiding to my might-as-well-be-sister that this baby, whoever he ended up being, would be my salvation. I could feel it in my bones. Even when he was only a fetus, I felt like I knew him already. And the person I felt I knew? I was certain he would complete everything in me that was inadequate, answer all of the unsolved puzzles of my soul, and fix all of the broken parts of my past. And even though I knew that these feelings weren’t healthy, that I was making Common Mothering Mistake #920538, aka Putting all of your eggs into your embryo, I just couldn’t help it. I knew that whatever happened to me and Rob, my baby would be taken care of. I would make sure of that. And by doing so, I would be untouchable. Inscrutable. Perfect. I knew that this baby would make me the mysterious, magical, mother-queen of everything I ever wanted to be. I. Just. Knew.

I was right.

Ever since becoming a mom, I’ve made decisions that have thrown my world for a loop. I’ve moved, I’ve shaken, I’ve stirred the very depths of my being. And for all of the tough choices, the strange choices, and the misunderstood choices, I’ve become a better person. It’s obvious to anyone who’s seen my evolution, and the explicit nature of this change is such that I wonder just how bad of a person I had to have been before.

All I know is, Riley forces me to condense every part of me that is good, and make it readily available. He makes me strive for excellence, for impeccability. Because of him, I have a peace of mind and a resolve that I’ve never had before. I have more confidence, self-esteem, and general good will towards my fellow humans than I’ve ever had before. I am the most authentic version of myself that I’ve ever been before. And all of this is because of Riley.

Me & Riley (@ 6 months old)

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