My heart was skipping nervous beats. It reminded me of childhood when the nerves of excitement before a birthday would happen and I’d sit in my school desk waiting for the moment when I would get to share those homemade birthday treats so lovingly made by my mother. But, this time I was the mother in the story waiting.
It was me, in the car, driving down the interstate and passing the Ikea store that I’d normally love to swerve off the road for and grab just a couple things and pulling off in the freaky winter snow in May on the exit to the airport.
My girls were coming home.
They left nine days prior. Last week, as I sat in my home knowing my girls were over a thousand miles away, I sat there and I wrote about the motherhood brave and embracing those moments of letting them go. I wrote about how it just feels like I took a breath in and by the time I exhaled I looked and in my home were no longer little PowerPuff loving girls but rather young, beautiful adults.
Now, once again, there I was walking into the airport to find my daughters – those girls that I trusted and was proud of and sent off on a plane high above the earth – they were coming home.
I knew they were the ones that were brave. They were the ones who went through security and checked their bags and remembered their pleases and thank yous and packed up their clothes and said their goodbyes and stepped a bit farther from home in those days in Maryland.
They grew up just a bit in those nine days.
And my mother’s heart, that brave portion of heart that all of us mothers have, got to grow with them. Letting a bit of the little girls – little ones nestling in my arms and those who would twirl in dresses in the yard and play with Polly Pockets and love to ride their bikes racing down the hill – grow and fade away into the beautiful memories caught in the pictures of time. Those are the pictures that dot my wall – off toothless girls and little ballerinas and girls laughing with Spiderman at Universal Studios and loving on their little newborn brothers who are now almost ten and eight – that make me sigh and remember.
It’s those treading water days of motherhood mixed into those memories that we paste into scrapbooks and look at and wonder where the little girls went. Oh, I remember the I hate you’s yelled over silly things and the slammed doors and the messy floors and the fits over doing work and yet even with those treading water days I don’t have those moments on my wall and in my heart. Those aren’t the definers of motherhood – they’re just part of the fabric and part of what was dealt with in the current of never stopping time.
But the memories? Oh the memories are thick and abundant and vivid. I remember the time putting Christmas ornaments up on the tree. Or how the little girls and I pushed snowballs into big piles and pushing a carrot in to make a nose. The times spent in the room doing the annual clothing switch as big piles of too smalls and not favorites grew. The sweet moments rolling cookies out on the counter in winter. And I really remember those being brave moments – the first time to class, riding a bike, singing in church, going to a friends – those moments that we shared together in life.
The simple text comes in and with it a breath of relief that my girls were now there under my care once again. As I send a text back to those little girls grown I wander over the skybridge to the terminal with that eager heart waiting to bask in the excitement of their trip. And in that moment I look up and see two girls, two older girls, exiting the terminal through security and for a split second I didn’t recognize them. Standing tall. Laughing. Excited. Pulling their luggage with the carry on stacked on the top.
And then Chloe catches my eye and in that moment, that moment of motherhood brave whooshes out of me and I run those last steps to hug on my girls. Oh how I missed them. I missed them something fierce and in those days of missing of them, and being brave and being willing to let them go, they were allowed to grow.
We missed you mom.
It was the same words that they whispered to me after preschool classes those so many years ago. It was the words that Hannah would tell me after she told me she ran out of the kisses behind her ear that I would leave for her before kindergarten. It was the same words those now older girls, those women to be, told me after youth camp.
It’s that letting go and embracing those past moments but loving who those littles are becoming. Those moments matter. It’s in recognizing the tension of time and knowing that no matter what and how hard you are treading water that you are still moving and they are still growing. It’s in stopping just for a moment and looking around and being absolutely thankful for those imperfectly beautiful moments tucked in normal.
It felt like yesterday, simply yesterday when the journey started, and here I am in the years of releasing them to swim and tread water on their own. And while it’s brave for them it’s also brave for me.
Embrace today. Even in the treading water moments that sometimes make you want to throw in the towel of motherhood. Just breathe.
There will come a day when my girls will walk out my front door and hug me and tell me that they love me and I will cheer them on. And that day will come for you and all the mothers in the world. Those are the moments that all the motherhood brave moments piled upon each other will come to a focal point and the letting go will happen.
I know it’s coming. I know it.
So for now I sit in the juxtaposition of years gone by and the embracing of the now and the excitement for the future. Breathe deep, dear mothers, breathe deep. Rock those babies, sing the songs, read the extra books, play baseball in the back, take them for ice cream, listen to their stories, applaud for their singing, and keep on treading water.
Motherhood is amazing. And it is so most incredibly brave.
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