A few years ago, I’d read a post that Tara Whitney wrote on her blog. At the time, I had a 4 and 2 year old and was very much the mom with goldfish crackers and sippy cups and a tantruming toddler. Still, the post struck a heartstring. I envisioned the sadness she felt, the shifting identity, the changing phase. It felt light years away, but still I knew when the time came, when I was in the same shoes as her, I would have feelings of sadness and anxiety. Sorrow for the years that passed to quickly. I still have little ones, but the mark of Amelia’s first birthday only solidifies that time will not stand still for my anxiety and fears. Her baby stages are flying by without pause, and there is nothing I can do to slow it down, other than to stop and savor as much as I can. I went back and read Tara’s post, and thought I should share here as well. Bittersweet…. watching my sweet babies grow up into little people… life getting so much easier in so many ways, but harder in others… yet longing for the days when their chubby hands hold your finger tightly, their sticky faces kiss yours with a sloppy kiss, and they curl up and fit in your lap.
“The other night as I was making dinner, it hit me hard that I am now in the phase of mothering that I always dreamed about when I was at home with three children under the age of three. The phase where there is some independence. The phase that is way way way past diapers and potty training and temper tantrums in the grocery store. The phase where my middle school aged son helps my elementary aged daughter with her math homework while I make dinner. It is a brave new world here in this phase. I spent ten plus years with toddlers and babies. The entire decade of my 20′s, and some of my 30′s. I still get shocked with how fast time is passing. I still get shocked at how big they are. How adult they are becoming. Yet I feel like I am in my motherhood prime. I ache to go back in time and hold them as newborns again. To smell their toddler necks and experience their toddler voices. But I was exhausted or drained or depressed for most of that time, if I am going to be perfectly honest. I think I had them too fast, I was stretched too thin. I wouldn’t go back and change a thing, but that is the truth of the matter. I loved them just as fiercely then as I do now…but it was a harder time for me personally as a mother.
At the same time, it is such a huge huge part of my identity – being the mother of four young children. And now that I am no longer that, my identity is shifting and I haven’t quite caught up. I still feel a part of that “group”. The one at the park after naptime. The one with goldfish crackers and sippy cups falling out of the stroller. The one walking a toddler down the hall to avoid a tantrum at the post office. And it is SO BIZARRE that I am just not there anymore. I miss it, even knowing how hard it was for me.
I did my best, and I think my best was enough. I hope it was. If who they are today is any indication, it was enough. Thankfully, gratefully. I can nowsee how tender and special that millisecond of time was, and it makes me want to hold onto this time all the more, because I know our next phase is speeding down the runway, arriving at the gate soon as a house full of teenagers. And then, lickity split, take off into a life of their own.
So here I am, looking back on a lot of memories with a lot of fondness. Recalling who they were then and feeling very full in all that we have experienced together.
Here I am, learning about who they are now and leading them down the best path that I can. Loving who they are becoming.
Here I am, looking forward into the future, with great hopes regarding our safety and health, and a lot of excitement over what is to come.