As a mom of littles, I HATED when someone would see me – mid 3-year-old melt down – in the Target aisle and say, “Oh, mom, don’t blink they will be grown before you know it.” All I could think in those moments was YOU ARE A BIG FAT LIAR. These moments will never end. These screaming kids will never go away. They will always follow me into the bathroom when I am trying to hide. They will never sleep through the night. And they SURELY will never quit waking me up early on Saturdays. I know that my eyes spewed expletives at strangers and usually my mouth had some smart-ass comment to share.
But here I am. Saying the thing that I didn’t want to hear. Don’t you dare blink. To the momma that has not showered in days – this will pass. To the one that would give anything to leave the house for dinner in a shirt that does not have snot – it will happen. To the one that just found the rotten sippy cup in the dog’s cage – I promise, you will forget these moments. When I was in the trenches, I was dying. Sometimes literally. There were countless days that I crawled into bed and silent tears ran down my face because I dared not admit that I was still awake to the husband that had not been acknowledged in weeks. I’m here to testify: I’m still standing. And you will be, too.
Something terrifying happens when you just keep living. Days pass. Lots of days. And tonight, I am reminded that exactly 6,209 days ago I was in labor with my oldest. Over the past 149,016 hours I have felt all the highs and lows that I could possibly bottle into a choose your own adventure story. We have traveled some roads. Yet here we stand, hours from her 17th birthday. It was just yesterday that I was googling poop colors and stressing over cradle cap. It happened. I blinked. And I am now the mom of a beautiful, independent, capable, big-hearted, brilliant young woman. This means two things: 1) I am old. 2) We’ve survived. Sure, I have more gray hair and wrinkles. But it also means that I have moments of joy and wonder as I have watched this precious product of my flawed DNA lean into all that God has created her to be.
Because I only operate in profound honesty, there are have been some long nights. The cause has changed from sleep training to junior high friendships and the emotional toil has escalated from missing Dora to future life planning, but she is still my little girl. Even on the days when I know that my eyes are looking at maturing beauty, I still see my Monster’s Inc obsessed cheeky treasure. So to all the moms out there, may this bring you some comfort and hope. No matter how long the days seem and how endless the nights are, know that one day you will look back and remember the voice and the cuddles and the way that only their smile made your heart soar. It never changes. And deep in their insides, that precious little one never goes away. Ever. I will, until my last breath, hear AJ’s one year old voice say to me, “Well, acccctuuually, mommy….”
Happy Birthday, AJ. You make me beam with pride.