My kids are growing up. My oldest is a preteen and my littlest is four…and suddenly they don’t need me as much anymore.
They need me, but not like they used to.
They don’t need me to rock them to sleep, or to swaddle them. They don’t need me to nurse them, or help to put on their shoes.
Not that long ago I looked forward to this day. In the midnight hours I dreamed of when I would sleep through the night again. I thought about it when I spent 45 minutes bundling up flailing little bodies, just to go outside for a half an hour. I thought about it when my arm was cramped from hoisting the carseat in and out of the car, and when I was so sleep deprived I felt like a zombie in my own horror film.
The future was filled with hope and promise that it wouldn’t always be this way.
But now it’s not, and I miss it so hard.
I miss it so hard sometimes I cry big ugly tears that make my face swollen and my cheeks covered in mascara.
I didn’t expect it to be so hard to let go.
I miss sitting in the big chair in my torn sweats, nursing a tiny warm body. There was no where else I needed to be, and motherhood was simple: feed, cuddle, change, sleep, repeat.
There are so many good things about this new stage. I love the conversations I have with my tween. I love that he knows how to tease me and he gets my jokes. I love cuddling them and watching some of my favorite movies (Father of the Bride, Big Fat Greek Wedding, Remember the Titans…) and them enjoying them every bit as much as I do. I love that my oldest spent a week quoting Franck.
I love that my daughter gives me style advice (and she’s usually right).
I love family dinners when everyone has a story to share and opinion about ketchup (is it good or gross?).
These are good, good, years. I wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else then here.
I love everything thing about this, but I miss the years gone by so hard it hurts.
I hold this time in my hands like water. I know that it will keep slipping through my fingers, and that soon I will find myself in an entirely new season.
I dream of the friendships with my kids growing into peer relationships as they get older. I imagine boisterous Thanksgivings around the dinner table with their own spouses and families. I look forward to that day, but I know the ache will be the same.
I know that there will be gold in every season, but I think I will always miss being needed the way I used to be needed.
They don’t tell you that baby fever still hits when you’re done having kids.
I’m grateful for the ways they still need me. I’m grateful for my oldest snuggling in close when I read a book. I’m grateful every time they let me see their tears. I’m grateful every time I connect to their hearts. I’m grateful that my four-year-old still appears in our bed every single night. I wake up cramped, and my husband asks why I don’t carry her back, but the answer is simple: these days will be over in a heartbeat and a millisecond.
I will cherish them while they last.
I will treasure these days, just like I treasured the last, and someday I will look back and my heart will be full of both joy and heartache.
I guess this is what I signed up for, isn’t it?
This calling of motherhood cracks the soul in half.
We wake up, we go through the motions, we survive, we show up, we do more than we ever thought possible. We go days without a shower, we forget what real pants feel like, and we loose pieces of our identity along the way.
We wonder if what we do matters. Often we have nothing to show for our day, but a kitchen floor covered in crumbs and sink full of dishes.
The thing is that while I’ve lost myself, I’ve also found myself. Deep under my exhaustion, my soul has been set on fire like never before.
Yours has too my friend.
We’ve become fierce, we’ve become bright, we’ve become soft, and we’ve become warriors… we’ve become the best versions of ourselves.
So as we walk through this ever-changing journey, lets take hands, because this process is hard. I need you (my fellow mamas in the trenches) and also some water proof mascara.