I’ve been a mama for about 10 years if you count the time I spent pregnant with my first baby. For as much time as I’ve spent reading, thinking, and being “mom”, I feel like I am just beginning to understand what it is all about.
Hazel is my oldest and she turned nine this week. Nine. Birthdays are much anticipated events in our household so we’ve spent a lot of time talking about being eight, wondering about turning nine, and imagining all the things ahead. Usually Hazel is pretty excited about an upcoming year. But the other day, she stepped out of the shower and was standing in front of the bathroom mirror after having a very fun and a very long day and she looked at her growing body and sighed. She said, out loud and with a little sadness in her voice, something I often feel. She said, “Mom, I don’t want to get any bigger. I really like being eight. I like my life right now as it is.” On another occasion, I might have acknowledged that feeling and then launched into how cool it is to get older, or the inevitability of change or something equally annoying, but not this night. Because I was feeling it, too.
For the first time as a mom, I really love the time I spend with my girls just as it is. I’m not half here and half wishing they were out of diapers or doing their own laundry or more independent. These days, the time spent talking, cleaning, eating, dancing, reading or whatever we are doing together, is some of the best time I get during my week. I’m beginning to see it for what it really is: Moments that will change as time passes. As much fun as it is to watch my children grow, there is part of me that is clinging to this. Part of me really wants it to stay just like it is.
For the most part, I’ve been really happy to be a mom. There was the period when I was depressed after Hazel was born, but other than that, I have enjoyed being a part of a bustling house with small people around. Even so, I didn’t know this kind of happiness. Now it just seems so clear and so good. The earlier kind of happiness was often accompanied by overwhelm and even resentment. I didn’t think I could “do it” or was doing this motherhood thing well enough. I also really wanted to be able to just be me and to have time to do my thing without having to always think about kids and time and laundry and schooling and burdening the other people who supported me in this parenting journey. Part of me was happy and part of me was wanting, or confused or feeling pulled in another direction.
But things have shifted. As the girls grow, there is more balance between mom-responsibilities and time for myself, I think I’ve matured, and I have the practice of yoga which is helping to clear some of the confusion and conflict away so that I can really see what is happening before my two eyes: TIME IS PASSING. My children are growing. The hours that I have to spend with them are so wonderful and so fleeting – Our time spent being silly, talking, listening, snuggling, the time I have left to drive them around and make their lunches, it is a privilege… one that is uniquely mine. I get to keep Hazel company when she is bathing AND I get to be there to hold a fresh towel open for her when she is done. She steps into that towel and into my arms and I get to give her a wet warm hug as her body, now wrapped up like a burrito, leans into mine. The hours are passing and I want to be present, fully present, for all of them.
So when Hazel spent that moment reflecting on how she felt looking at herself in the mirror, already nostalgic for her life as an 8-year-old, I completely understood. We stayed there in silence for what seemed like a long time, seeing her beautiful 8-year-old body as it is, and I felt awash in gratitude for how good we have it right now. And then, when we were both ready, I wrapped her in a towel, she leaned into me and I gave her a hug.