I was ill-prepared for this stage of my life as a mother. I absolutely adore my life. I want exactly what I have. I want everything that I have, including my struggles because they are mine and I know them well. My struggles up until now are like a well-worn handle on a cane shaped by my hands. Now, I don’t want to let go of any moment and welcome the next. I once thought that to only want what I have and to want everything I have would be the epitome of happiness. Maybe it is, but my challenge then is to want what I have in the present and not what I had. I struggle to relinquish the wake of the wave that just passed, and the next one lays me down. It’s all happening too fast.
It seems that all the press coverage about parenting focuses on the beginning of the journey – the bottles and diapers and transitory things that people wish away, like sleepless nights. Everyone warns pregnant women what they’re in for a huge change. They’re told to sleep, to rest, to get out while they can. Hundreds of millions of words have been written about birth, babies, breast-feeding and the minutia of the first three years of motherhood. Then the information tapers off into rumors and rare anecdotes about carpools.
No one warns you that one summer your children will grow as quickly as they grew when they were babies. I read no articles about how your babies become sweaty kids who smell sickly sweet like grape candy that fell in the dirt. I received no notice that my grade-schoolers would shoot precariously close to being taller than me in the matter of a few short months, but they did.
No one warns you that your chin will one day no longer fit on the top of their heads and you won’t be able to smell their hair while you hug them tight. Sure, people tell brand new parents that they won’t believe how fast it goes. Many new parents, hung over from the absence of sleep, don’t want to hear it because they’re wishing away the hard part.
I always knew it wouldn’t last. I always knew how fast and slow time can go, and how it can be both ally and enemy to our best laid plans. I knew that I would miss the distant past, but I didn’t know how dearly I would miss the present as it changes before my eyes, as fast as falling leaves.
Yesterday I set in motion Liam’s last elementary school Halloween party. His. Last. One. I know that this spring I will watch him march in the “graduation” parade and tears will flow down my face. I know that the next spring I will repeat these lasts with Moira and cry again. These lasts don’t last and longer than the firsts.
Sometimes when I hear mothers complain about their children and the mundane activities of parenting, I get irritated because I’m grasping these moments so tightly. Then I think, I only want everything I have, and I am blessed by my reluctance to release the now instead of wishing it away. I am lucky to be so happy that it makes me cry.