This morning I woke up extra early. I sat in the silence in my living room. I looked around and thought about how only a couple of hours before, my son was alone in the same living room while the rest of the house was in bed.
He was up late finishing a history essay. Yes, it was just a couple of hours earlier that I’d heard the sound of the printer in the office just outside of our bedroom. Then the click as a single staple dispensed. I had gone to bed a good while before, but somehow I never fully sleep when I know he’s still up.
These sounds from the office signaled to me that he was finished. In a few short moments, the crack of light under my bedroom door went out. By this time it was about midnight. And at midnight, that six foot tall curly-headed guy with the deepening voice turned 16 years old.
This is the boy that made me a mother. As I sit in the dark on his sixteenth birthday, I think about how we used to watch him sleep as a tiny little baby. I watched and listened to him breathe in and out like it was my job. I would look at him and feel so overwhelmed with the responsibility and weight of being his mom.
There are lots of cliche sayings about kids growing up.
They grow up so fast.
Enjoy every minute.
You’ll miss these days.
These are the things that elderly women in the grocery store look at young moms and say. Sometimes it’s when your child is being precious. Other times it’s when your kids are fighting over a bag of candy corn that they’ve opened in the store without your permission and you are seriously contemplating just leaving the kids in Target.
I used to think those ladies in the grocery store just wanted to start a conversation or couldn’t think of anything really good to say. I used to think they were just trying to prove themselves to me and point out that they survived child raising and they wanted me to take notice. Why else would they say something so cliche and overused? And of course, some days when the kids were throwing candy corn in Target I wanted to yell a retort of “No, I will NOT miss this. Sure, I’ll miss stuff, but I will not miss this moment!”
And then there are days like today. I keep seeing that tiny blonde-headed baby boy this morning in my mind. And all I can think of that feels relevant and real and dear to my heart is to say that
They grow up so fast.
Because nothing more eloquent or specific could be truer. The words bring tears to my eyes. I imagine that the seasoned mothers, now grandmothers and great grandmothers that we see in the grocery store are looking at little children and warmly reliving birthdays of years gone by. Maybe a birthday party in the park with a train cake or a doll tea party on the front lawn.
Instead of being conversation starters or fluff, their words actually come from a deep space of emotions that can only be felt by a mother. The feelings are so deep and the memories are so precious that these seeming cliches are truly the words that apply the best.
Sixteen years after the day I became a mama, a lot feels the same. I still lose sleep thinking about my children. I still have just as many days where I feel the weight of parenting and have no clue if I’m doing it right. And I still feel the intense joy of being a mom. I guess I’ll always wake up on this day and see that tiny blonde-headed boy that opened up those new places in my heart to love and feel things that only mothers feel.