I’m writing you today as my oldest starts 2nd grade. My “baby” will start kindergarten next week. I—like you—could at one point hold them in the crook of my arm and I could feed them with my body. I couldn’t possibly dream of what they would look like or what they would be like at 5 or 7. And yet, for them, I dreamed of so much. As I do still. As I will always.
When you’re bringing up babies and toddlers, you often watch the clock in anticipation for bedtime when finally—at least for ten blissful minutes before you pass out or they wake up—you can flip through a magazine, watch bad reality TV, or have a bowl of ice cream. A good night would obviously include all three.
And yet, you have moments of desperately wanting to stop time. Please let her stay just like this, if not forever then for three months more. Just like this is perfect. I love everything about her!
This still happens to me, the—choke—mother of TWO school children. Please don’t let him learn how to say “gross” the right way. “Gwoss” is perfect. I will so miss “gwoss.”
But the truth is I don’t really remember the last favorite quirk or song or turn of phrase or cute little outfit. We always have moments where we wish for everything to remain exactly the same, yet time keeps moving. And we move with it.
I am surprised by how OK I am with my kids growing up. It stings momentarily, it stings HARD. And then, I’m fine. I appreciate who they are. I make them a sandwich, I make them soup. I try not to think too hard about how it will feel when they don’t need me to make them soup and a sandwich anymore. Then I realize that—heck—I still like it when my mommy makes me soup, and I’m a grown woman. I also realize—trying hard not to feel guilty about it, as we moms do—that it will be liberating when they can make their own food. I’d settle for making their own beds.
Parenthood is confusing this way. It’s a loopy, lurching, experience. It’s fun. It’s funny. It’s HARD.
It’s hard to hear—when you’re covered in peas and carrots and who knows what else—the mantra of well-meaning motherhood veterans: “Don’t blink! You’re going to miss this! Don’t miss a thing.” While it’s true that moments should be lived in and pictures snapped, sometimes all you want is a nap or a bath or a simple cup of coffee. In which case, the words “don’t blink” seem kind of pointed and annoying.
As your doula, I think I need to shed some light on this whole “stopping time/you’re gonna miss this” phenomenon.
First off, it’s perfectly fine to blink. I need you to get your sleep. You will be a better you and a much better mother for getting your rest.
Second, I want to offer you this perspective:
In the dead of night, when your baby is gassy and fussy, squirming and screaming; I want you to take a deep breath and remind yourself that yes—this will be missed.
Then, when you’re overcome by the horrible unfairness of time and just how much you actually will miss the baby years, I want you to remember this: you will be OK. I promise.
Your little tiny babies will get on buses and you will cry and then you will embrace the next step. You will miss this—the diapers, the hiccups, the milk-stained mouth—so badly at times that your breasts will experience a phantom letdown. You will look upon pregnant women as if they are in possession of unimaginable riches.
Then, you’ll wipe your eyes and remember what parts you don’t miss. You’ll feel such pride at how far you’ve come. And you’ll find yourself exactly where you should be.
Your babies will grow up. And you will too. Blink. Be brave. Be real. Be you, beautiful mama.
With much love,