They warned me. I have no one to blame but myself for this.
They may not have been able to warn me about the time my 3-year-old pitched a fit so enormous it woke the entire childcare center at nap time. As if suddenly possessed with a burning passion for furry monsters, she screamed and kicked all the way down the endless hallway over my old Elmo doll. It was mine from my high school days and she never paid any attention to it. Until I started a new teaching job and tried to leave it for other children to play with. They don’t warn you when you’re snuggled in a hospital bed with your sweet cooing baby how they will one day be the cause of your life’s most embarrassing moments.
And they never mentioned the amount of patience it would take to help my 1st grader with her homework as she struggled with undiagnosed ADD. The agony and frustration we both felt while my six-year-old would spend hours at our kitchen table just trying to do one ‘simple’ worksheet. She’d have to turn the neighbor kids away when they came to the door to play because she was still doing her homework. How could someone so smart struggle so much with school work? No one warns you of the feelings of inadequacy and concern when you can’t teach your own child but you can command a room full of three-year olds. “She’s so smart,” they’d say. “She’s got a bright future!” They don’t tell you about the times when the house falls silent and all those doubts begin to creep into your mind. Any confident strides you may have made that very afternoon with time managing the homework demons sink deep with sorrowful sighs into your pillow.
But this? Seems even strangers warned me about this:
“They grow up so fast.”
But when you’re in the trenches it’s hard to see the horizon.
“Don’t blink. Before you know it they’ll be grown and gone.”
It’s hard to hear that over your kicking, screaming, Elmo-obsessed three-year-old.
“Cherish the time you have with them now. Soon they won’t want anything to do with you.”
Somehow cherishing doesn’t seem to fit in the same realm as crying over 1st grade math.
And yet here I am wishing I had listened to them.
Both of my girls have milestones this Spring. I am not sure how I missed this when I signed up to be their mom. Abby Faith finishes middle school, and Lucy will be spreading her wings and flying from the safety of her elementary school nest. This year they stacked the deck against me. I should have seen it coming.
They warned me after all.
I find myself weeping over the most common of scenarios. Like when my tiny baby girl forgets her English book after school. And this time she doesn’t need me to go with her back into the school to get it. I literally sobbed in the car while I waited for her to return. She looked so grown up! But I wiped my tears and gathered my composure before she returned. She wouldn’t understand. And if I warned her now about how this whole Mothering gig goes down, she wouldn’t listen. Just like her mom.
Or when my sweetest baby-faced child suddenly wants to trade in her Disney princess dress-up dress and go shopping for a dress to wear to her school semi-formal dance I lock myself in the bathroom for several minutes and just pray for time to stand still. Tomorrow she’ll ask to go shopping for a wedding dress. That will be an entire tear-stained blog post in itself!
Some days I feel like I just won’t make it. Some days I just feel like it’s not fair at all the way this life works. You pour every ounce of love from the very essence of yourself into someone just to give them away. And you pray that whomever you give them to will love them as much as you do or more. I want to believe that’s true. There’s got to be some hope in that. But, I really don’t think there’s any love deeper, stronger or more poignant than that of a mother for her child. We loved them first after all. Before a name, a face and a birthday. We loved them first.
So excuse me if I get emotional over high school registration forms and 5th grade ceremonies. Because the time I have with them to do their hair and talk about boys will one day come to an end.
But my love for them goes on forever.