If you could read one letter of mine this one might be it.
Well, maybe I’d have you read the one about failing first, but then this one. Here’s why – those kids that we’re blessed to parent? Those kids that stretch our patience, teach us to count to ten multiple times, cause us to worry and get no sleep, and sometimes bring a smile of joy to our face – they’ll grow. Really fast.
I know, you’re probably nodding your head and thinking it’s just another one of those letters and notes from moms telling you to embrace every moment and to savor every sleepless night and to rock them over and over because they grow. And, well, you’re kind of right in thinking that. But, this letter to you goes beyond that right now. It’s not about guilt, or showing you all the times you didn’t savor the millisecond, or how you need to do or be more.
There’s so much pressure on mothers right now to be and do and keep it all together while documenting, savoring, and loving everything. Added to the pressure is this idea of every moment is awesome, but in reality we know that most of them are actually rather normal or challenging or plain and simple hard.
Motherhood isn’t about every moment being perfect – rather it’s a collection of moments strung together where often the beauty isn’t seen until it’s done.
The hindsight is often what makes it beautiful.
You may be sitting there with that newborn sleeping soundly with the years of motherhood stretching out before you like a great canvas of opportunity. Or you may be nearing the end and you too, are reading these words, nodding away and trying to think about where all those years went to. It happened to me today as well. Today as I pulled winter coats out of my closet and threw them in a heap in the middle of the living room getting ready to be put away.
It was my three year old Samuel’s blue puffy GAP coat that brought the tears to my eyes. It might have helped that the Forrest Gump soundtrack was playing in the background, or that it was turning out to be one of those really great, but rather rare, amazing days in life. You know those days – the days where your coffee stays hot, and the breeze of spring blows in the window, and the kids don’t seem to fight as much. Whatever it was, that coat, that blue striped coat made me cry.
As I took it off the little hanger and threw it in the pile I paused – where do I throw it? It won’t go in the pile of coats for next year. It won’t fit next year – that blue coat that’s gotten two years of wear out of it. The blue coat that he wore home from Children’s Hospital this winter when he finally got to come home after dealing with influenza. The blue puffy coat that matches his eyes. He’ll be too big next year. Sigh.
And I want that.
I want him to grow. I want all my kids to grow.
And you do to – you and I, we look forward to the next milestone – the first smile, the teeth, the toddling steps of walking, when they write their name, the first time the go to preschool, the time they memorize the math facts, the soccer games, the drivers ed, the graduation. They’re all milestones – goals – events scattered in the fabric of life with all of it’s crazy moments.
I just didn’t think they’d roll around so fast. It feels like I was just throwing a little red 2T coat from JCPenney’s with three little dogs on the front into the pile. And now, that girl that wore that coat is almost grown, almost gone from this home and off to start her own. And that is why the tears rolled down my cheeks today.
It goes so fast.
It’s some of those words that you hear and read and people tell you when you’re in line at Starbucks while the toddler throws a tantrum and you know, but yet, you just don’t know until it all of a sudden hits you that it goes fast. That first year races by like a blur and they’re one. They grow.
But I know you know that. We all know it deep down, deep down we wonder if this might be the last night we rock them to sleep in our arms, or they hold our hand in the parking lot, or they race through our front door and call it home. That’s part of the mother’s heart – that tucked in part of us that sees life race by – and yet we just keep moving knowing those moments are fleeting.
Of course the words I’d want to tell you to benchmark would be to savor the moment, but more than that it would be to give yourself grace. You know why? Because chances are when you’re in the thick of mothering you’re not thinking about the blue puffy coat that you’ll throw in a pile and that won’t be worn again because you’re instead thinking how you’ll make it to 5pm and get dinner on the table. And that? That’s normal. That’s to be expected. That’s exactly what you should be doing.
You should be living.
Plain and simple.
Don’t add to yourself all of these extra pressures about embracing every single second. But do allow yourself space to step back, to breathe, and to let some tears fall when you put the coats away. And then do what I did – I breathed in that coat, remembered that sweet little one who wore it, and then ran upstairs to find the almost preschooler and helped him put on his orange spring vest and ran outside with him and blew bubbles in the yard.
You move forward.
Will it go fast?
But you can go along with it. And every so often you’ll be given that gift of perspective – that moment of remember when – and then you’ll see what a crazy ride motherhood truly is. That’s the benchmark for you right now. Pause, just for a second and see all you’ve done – what you’ve accomplished, the memories cherished, and the ones that call you mother. Very few ever will get the honor of calling you mom – remember that – and breathe that today before you go back to normal – the dishes, laundry, sweeping, cleaning, and all of those things you simply do.
Dear mom in the beginning, midst, or end of motherhood it’s not the destination – it’s the journey – the journey punctuated with crazy moments that are beautiful but we often don’t see until they’re done.
Don’t worry about trying to embrace every second, but simple live, be, and move knowing that what you are doing, this motherhood thing, is truly a beautiful thing.
Embrace that today – the journey.
And stock up on kleenex on the way.
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