Plans had been mentally underway since the end of spring. Hopes and visions of the perfect birthday cake and completely organized party. All of this was shot to heck by a mother who just couldn’t get herself together when the big day arrived. Because she was too busy wrung up, thinking about the past. And thinking about the future, which sometimes seems even scarier than the past. That was how I saw my children’s birthdays this year, I am sad to say.
There are a lot of surprises that come with motherhood. And I’m not talking about the kind of surprises where a mom goes into the living room and sees that her son has drawn all over his sister, or when she discovers her daughter shoved a ton of cooked chicken from dinnertime into one of her toys. Those are surprises that are worthy of being irritated by, sure. But sometimes, it’s me that motherhood surprises me.
I haven’t been in the motherhood game for very long. It has been less than 5 years since my husband and I watched two pink lines appear on a teeny-tiny screen in an instant, hugged and kissed each other and declared that everything was going to be different. And it has been. But really, what’s 5 years when people live to be 80? I won’t ever stop being a mother until they put me in the ground. 5 years is but a drop in the bucket.
So why do I think that I have it all figured out less than half a decade in? I’m not sure. I go about life thinking that I have found a rhythm and act as though I’m decided and assured about everything and then it either changes or transitions and I realize just how deeply these children have a hold on me. And how as they change and grow, I change and grow.
I guess that is the best way to describe why as parents we become so emotionally unhinged at graduations, first baby steps, the first day of a new school year or the first time our children sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. We become used to something and then it changes, and we have are surprised, even though, Lord willing, that is always the plan. And all of a sudden, when they blow out those five birthday candles we can picture life ‘without’ them because they move out or leave for school. We think about days in the autumn and winter when they aren’t home with us because it’s a school day. We think about them not needing us to carry them anymore because now they can walk and run. We think about the days when they will stop sharing whats in their heart because they’ll start wanting to share that with friends.
We get used to it all and then the game changes, yet again.
But there is hope.
Hope that as our children grow, they will succeed in being better than us.
We hope that they will, by God’s grace, make better choices than us. We hope that they will be smarter than us, able to tackle calculus in a single bound. We hope and pray that they will be stronger than us because the world grows more and more lost the longer you look at it and live in it as time marches on. We hope that they will be better a better friend than us, a better spouse than us, a better parent then us. Sometimes, that is what keeps me sane. Even though I can’t see the tangible differences everyday that the motherhood rat race accomplishes, I know that in the end, there is great hope that all of these seemingly insignificant days will be the tiles in the mosaic of my children’s lives.
I am so, so proud of you. Your heart is tremendous. I can see your compassion even now, when you don’t even know what that is or what it means. You act it out every single day in how you care for your sister, how you care for me, how you care for your father. You are so very smart and your thirst for knowledge is ridiculous sometimes. I know that someday, you’ll be working on equations and problems and that I will be of not assistance to you, but that is how it should be. You are becoming more and more like your father every single day, and that is a very good thing. I love looking at you and watching you experience this world, and watching the gears turn in your head, and even though sometimes it drives me nuts, I hope that you always stand up for yourself and stay “stubborn” and hold fast to what you believe in. You make my life more colorful, you give it new depth and purpose every single day when you roll out of bed. Thank you for being my best guy.
You rotten little girl. I say that with a wink and a smile, of course. You drove me crazy when you were just born, and I know that someday, all of those tears of frustration that I cried will be forgotten. You are so spirited, but so tender. I know what it’s like to burn with fire and yet run deep. Your heart is ridiculous. You are so sweet and can be ridiculously kind and tender. You have a passion for not wanting anything to slip past you, a desire to see it all and experience it all. And of course, a feistiness that will help you keep yourself out of trouble, I hope. There is so much to you, so many layers. I hope that you always feel as beautiful as the people around you think that you are. And I hope that you always know that what really matters and what really affects those around you the most is what is in your heart. I get the feeling that when you find what it is you’re looking for, what you’re meant for, little girl, that you won’t let go. Don’t let go.
Happy Tuesday, folks!