I sometimes wake in the early morning & listen to the soft breathing of my children & I think to myself, this is one thing I will never regret & I carry that quiet with me all day long. “No Regret” at Storypeople.com
So, it’s the last week of summer. For me, this last week of summer marks the end of an era: my Rainbow baby is going to kindergarten. I know that every mama out there who walks her baby into kindergarten this fall will tearfully nod their heads: it went too fast, and it took so long . . . I want to jump for joy that he knows his alphabet and he can recite his numbers by heart–as well as several Bible verses–and he takes himself to the bathroom and eats with a fork most of the time . . . because I did my job!, I ran the race, and I have this beautiful little kindergartener to present to his teacher on Tuesday morning. He’s ready, and it’s because of me. I spent the last five years of my life pouring into this child. And I am proud.
But tears flood because it was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. And I messed some things up. For one, I yelled too much. I tried patience, really. I tried it at least three times before the yelling started. And I read Lysa Terkeurst’s book with the woman on the cover yelling into her purse (if you haven’t read Unglued, order it today), and I have to keep reading it because I keep losing it over them NEVER eating their food in a timely manner and how it takes so long to decide how to jump out of the car when we are late anywhere/everywhere. And even as I manage to not yell all morning long, I am shrilling right before they go down for rest time today . . . AGAIN.
I didn’t realize how much I would care what other people think of my ability to mother, either. I was caught off guard by how much mothering would become my identity. Maybe that isn’t healthy, or maybe it’s codependent. But this child has been every breath, every waking, every goodnight and every meal and nap and plan in between for over five years now. Nothing has mattered more in my life since they laid him on my stomach, nothing even compared to his needs. Nothing, especially not me. And when I feel judged as Mama, I feel twenty-four-hours-a-day judged, this has been my life judged, I wear these old clothes because he needed judged, I didn’t get my hair cut because I’m home working for no money judged, more than I could give I gave judged. Mamas, you know what I mean.
And I wonder if I would do it the same if I got to do it again. (This whole idea, I’m realizing, of doing it over must have been created by a parent. Until my children came, I didn’t spend time wishing for do-overs. Now that they are here, I want a do-over EVERY SINGLE DAY.) I wonder if I would have tried to work or start blogging sooner to keep some of that identity that got so consumed with them. I wonder if I could have worked out more or just asked for help more. I think if I had walked away every now again, had a few more girls’ nights and date nights and breathing space, I might have had more to give over all.
I wonder if it would have been different had Caleb not died, had I not watched Papa Mark slip from us while holding our four month old Rainbow baby in my arms. I wonder if it could have been easier without so much loss, without all of the sadness. I wonder if I would have yelled less. I wonder if I would have been more joy-filled and less fear-filled. Oh, how I fought the fear! Like a living, breathing adversary in my home daily, I fought back fear and I fought for joy. But, the fight cost me. I’m afraid it cost them, as well.
Yesterday, as we galavanted through South Lake Union on our last field trip of the summer, I watched two little boys who are no longer babies and are beginning their own journeys into the world. I couldn’t help but choke back tears of joy and regret and sadness and laughter at the marvel that we’ve made it this far. For better or worse, they are here. We’ve made it this far. Samuel runs at a snail’s pace after his big brother as they rip through the splash park and board the street car. We climb the ladder of the old Arthur Foss tug boat and marvel at the view of Lake Union from the top of the ship. We discuss the tug boat’s diesel engine, and we marvel at the tiny cabins with their tiny sinks stacked side by side throughout the ship.
I wish I could do this stage of life forever, and I am so glad to be moving on. Accepting that we are moving on– packing up the crib and giving away tiny blue clothes–stops my heart. But I am looking forward, and letting go. I am crying and jumping for joy. This motherhood calling keeps teaching me that no matter how long I try to hold the sands and minutes and breaths of this life, it will slip through my fingers.
And I must learn to allow the slip, hold wide my hands, and say Thank you.
So, Lord, Thank You. Thank you for these beautiful creatures you’ve entrusted to me. Thank you for the moments I have cherished (and survived) loving them as babies. And thank you that I am learning, and growing, and with Your help can be a better mama to them tomorrow than I was yesterday and today.