50 Stages of Motherhood

There is a progression of motherhood…a timeline we all follow. Some of us go through kicking and screaming, while others cheer louder with each smidge of progress towards the finish line.

Our children inch closer to adulthood, while we apparently inch closer to the floor.

I have lost 3/4 of an inch in height since my son left for college.

And with each new stage, each startling new trick or terrifying new skill we adjust our mothering to suit it.

  • He climbs trees? We add the Urgent Care Center to our speed dial.
  • Projectile vomiting? Nothing a Swiffer, rubber gloves and a few paper towels can’t handle.
  • He wants to dress himself? We buy all red, white and blue clothing so that he will always look patriotic even when he isn’t quite matching.
  • He wants to get his Driver’s License? We increase our blood pressure meds and buy a set of rosary beads.
  • He wants to live off-campus? We write rent checks and hope he has a decent meal now and then.

I have been through so many stages of motherhood with my college kid, I have lost count. There are days when I can barely remember those first few stages, the why-isn’t-he-sleeping-through-the-night stage or the just-stop-teething-already stage.

Some were particularly ugly.

But woven together, stacked one on top of the other year after year these stages make up the mother I am today. It’s too late to change any of the things we went through. No do-overs, no returns, no refunds and no time machine travel.

Would I have done anything differently? I’m not sure I even know that answer.

I am faced with the dilemma that I am not done mothering, not quite yet.

But there are days when I want to be done.

See, the problem with mothering is that you are never really finished. It’s not that I didn’t know this… I just didn’t understand.

Grown-up kids need parents too.

And in time, years from now, in those last stages of motherhood, I will need my kids more than they will need me.

They will finally be living their own lives as adults, possibly raising families of their own. And I will be able to relax and know that I did the very best job I could have done. I passed the final exam, graduated. Finished the last stage.

But I am pretty sure I will still find a way to keep on worrying.

 

This post originally ran on Moonfrye

Denial: A Page in my Christmas Book

The boxes are down from the attic, stacked in haphazard fashion in the garage and waiting to be refilled.

I am not ready.

For seven weeks and three days, Christmas has filled this house. Santa, baby Jesus and all of their various snowmen and reindeer friends have been happily perched on shelves, hanging from the tree or just chilling out on top of the piano.

Last night we finally took the tree down, only because the garbage man will pick it up today.

Everything else remains.

I am not ready.

Not ready for these holidays when the kids are so old that Santa’s magic no longer has any power…when nobody believes they heard reindeer on the rooftop as they snuggled in their beds.

I love our Christmas traditions — cutting down our tree at the same farm each year, decorating it together. The unwrapping of each ornament and my incessant need to tell the story of each and every one. Again.

Homemade cinnamon rolls Christmas morning…gingerbread houses carefully decorated with all-things-sugary, only to be eaten later in chunks.

I love how my teens still expect certain things to remain the same about Christmas, even without the magic of Santa.

But there was a shift this season — ever so slight — and I felt it in my heart. My family is growing and changing, and while it’s amazing and awesome and wonderful?

There are days when I would gladly take a page from my Christmas Memories Book and have a do-over.

Like the year I found out I was pregnant on Christmas morning, but kept the secret all day long as we watched our 3-year-old son open presents and laugh.

Or the year Santa brought the huge dollhouse bookcase for my daughter that was taller than she was.

Maybe the year when we sat on the couch with grandparents — all showered, ready for presents and drinking our coffee — while little ones somehow slept way past their usual wakeup time.

This book — my Christmas Memories Book — has one page left.

One page.

Nineteen years of these memories fill this book and flood my heart when I open it.

And now? I need to fill in that one last page.

I am not ready.

I will buy another book — maybe even another with 20 years to fill. And I will cherish each page as they are filled with the new memories of our growing family…a family that will still hold dear to old traditions while the kids bring in something new each year. A friend, someone special, a spouse one day, maybe a grandchild or two.

I think I will be ready by then.

Thankful for the Little Things

There wasn’t enough of it at first. Not for quite some time.

Her father fretted about it just a bit.

His baby girl had hardly any hair.

Granted, nobody ever questioned her gender. Her searing blue eyes matched her brother’s but her features were all girl.

By the time she was two-years-old or so, I could pull together a very small pony tail. More of a collection of wisps, gathered ever so carefully in a tiny hair tie…maybe a small hair clip holding the castaways that were too short to be gathered.

And then, it grew. Her hair got longer and longer, and gathering up a pony tail was easy. It wasn’t her favorite style, but I could coax one out of her before a soccer game or a day at the pool.

Until she decided to cut it off and donate it to someone with cancer.

I was in awe that this tiny little girl would willingly part with her hair. The same hair her father and I were certain would never grow in without that characteristic male-pattern-baldness look we had come to adore.

Her new bob was adorable. She was happy, her hair was easier to manage and life moved on.

And then, slowly…her hair grew back. She still preferred it more medium-length, not too long because it got in the way of climbing monkey bars and swimming and playing soccer.

She always loved to play.

But time marches on.

Mothers grow older, schedules get tight and Monday flows directly into Sunday if you aren’t careful.

I watched this little one of mine walk away from me today…towards the high school soccer field, where the newly chosen freshman team is meeting to practice.

Pony tail swinging confidently, head held high and the world at her feet.

I miss that little girl with the wispy little pony tail.

But I still see her now and then.

And today, I am thankful for pony tails.