Happy Mothers Day to me. It's my 10th one. A decade of freshly picked dandelions and sweet cards covered in crayon and handmade gifts and smudgey fingerprints and messes and sloppy slobbery kisses and being known as Mommy or Mama or, gulp, Mom.
My babies are getting bigger. Every day, every moment, I can see it.
I remember wishing for this time - this exact moment. When they were newborns and it was 2 am and I couldn't get them to sleep and I was tired and they were fed and they didn't need a diaper change and they hated me and I hated life and everything was hard and awful and is a mother supposed to feel this way and I'm a fraud and please stop crying and please stop crying and I can't wait until this little baby is older and then - when this little baby is older - I will feel more in control and normal. And in spite of that and all of the feelings about all of the things, I remember pulling them close and smelling their sweet baby heads and taking it in and saying "shhhhh. stop. just for a moment. they will be big soon."
The crying eventually stopped. The 2 month olds turned into 2 year olds, who finally slept through the night in their little toddler beds. And the 2 year olds turned into 4 year olds who somehow - every single night - ended up sleeping next to me in my bed. Every night, around 2 am, I would hear the soft pitter patter of little baby feet on the carpet and the heavy breaths attempting to pull their little baby bodies up onto my bed. Sometimes they would just fall asleep. Sometimes they would say "hi Mommy". Sometimes they would talk more at length about what was going on. I was tired. I wanted to sleep. But I would listen and say "ok, it's time to sleep, baby." They would fall asleep, and I remember pulling them close and smelling their sweet baby heads and taking it in and saying "shhhhh. stop. just for a moment. they will be big soon."
Motherhood is hard. It is beautiful and amazing and wonderful, and I will go to my grave knowing that even in a life where I wasn't perfect and did oh so many things wrong, I did two things very right. But it is hard. Nothing can prepare you for how hard. All the while you know that while the days go by so slow, the years go by so fast. And you try to remind yourself "shhhhh. stop. just for a moment. they will be big soon."
But for every moment where I was at the end of my rope and cried myself to sleep with self-doubt, there was a moment where a tiny baby hand reached out for mine and let me envelop its softness in my own grasp. For every moment of sheer exhaustion and not believing I could do this -- this "motherhood" thing -- there was a moment where my sweet baby child would hug me and gently pat my back - a tacit message of "I love you. I need you. And you're doing fine." For every moment where I felt like I was The Worst Mother Ever, there was a moment where my little one said, unprompted and apropos of nothing, "mommy, I love you."
My baby children are 10 and 8. They're certainly not "grown" but they are big. And yet, I still find myself reminding myself to slow down, to stop, to take in their sweet still-kind-of-babyness. "shhhhh. stop. just for a moment. they will be big soon." That state of "Big" is pretty much, but not quite, here. I still reach for their hands, and they still let me hold them. I still smell their sweet baby heads, and they still let me. I still snuggle their bigger (but smaller than mine) little bodies, and they let me. I still call them "darling love" and they still let me. And now I find myself begging them, and begging time, to just slow down. Please slow down. Please, I am not quite ready for you to be big.
Yes, Motherhood is hard. But that's what makes it great. Giving birth is truly an allegory for motherhood itself - it's hard, it's painful, you're filled with doubt, but in the end, you do it, and you do great.
Happy Mother's Day to me. And to my sweet baby children. I am their biggest fan, their biggest cheerleader, their biggest advocate ... but I am also Mommy. I am bracing myself for what's coming - the eye rolls, the "please drop me off a block away", the "OMG Mommmmmmmmmm". I'm not remotely ready for it, but I know it will happen -- much like motherhood itself. And I'm hopeful that when I do, I can think back to when they were babies, and how I took the moment in the middle of the chaos and reminded myself to "shhhhh. stop. just for a moment. they will be big soon." Because although they may be big, no matter how big or how old, they will always, forever, be my babies.