My stomach is in knots listening to my 3 year old son cry. He’s laying in his bed, crying for his paci that had to go "live" with another baby that needed it. It’s so hard watching him cry for something that has provided him security and comfort all of his life. I mean, I feel like a heartless, terrible person right now. But again, isn’t that 80% of being a mom?! Hearing him cry is hard, but honestly, he’s 3 and cries if I give him 3 pancakes instead of 5, like requested. Or if I split a stick of cheese between him and his sister and it appears her half is slightly larger, it’s a full meltdown. He cries a lot, so why am I so sad that he’s crying now? My fully potty trained, fresh cut boy, is about to also stop using a paci. And the tears begin. I really, really, really tried to keep this boy little. I didn’t cut his hair until he was 2 ½ years old! I didn’t potty train him until he was 1 month shy of being 3. He didn’t get a big boy bed until 2 ½ and he’s a little over 3 years old and I’m just now taking his paci away. This is the last thing to do before “big boy graduation” slaps me in the face and the cold hard reality that I don’t have a baby anymore is basically tattooed to my body.
It’s a sad day. I look at these precious babes of mine and only see the time passing. I’m always trying to walk the fine line of remembering everything they’ve done and preparing them for a successful future but sometimes what’s left out is the present. I’m so quick to pull my phone out and video my kids dancing, so I wont forget, that I’m not really taking in the moment. You know those moments in your life that you can remember the smell, the taste, the views, like it’s a permanent movie in your mind? I know I do, and most of those moments were before technology exploded. It was when I relied on my memory because that’s all I had to rely on. It’s those moments when life is slow and you can take it all in. Right now, life is fast. My phone is blowing up 24/7 with texts, alerts, emails, and the occasional phone call. And when my phone is on silent my IPad(s) likes to remind me with the constant “dings”. I feel like sometimes there is no escaping. This just adds to the anxiety that I’ll have so many regrets when these babies are fully-grown, when my mommyhood is over. Then perhaps, I’ll know if I truly valued my time as a mom. If I keep hundreds of keepsakes, document every milestone, and kiss their sweet faces 500 times each day, maybe I’ll feel satisfied, but I’m going to guess, it will never be enough.
Have you ever stared at the details of your kid’s face? It’s obviously easier to do when they are asleep, but even when they are awake and I have 2 seconds before they roll over, jump to their feet, and spring forward, I quickly scan their delicate features. I take focus of how far apart their eyes sit and the shading of colors in their irises. Both of my kids have my blue eyes and the colors change from blue to gray, flowing together perfectly. I love how their lips protrude out and even if the first half of their face were covered, I could tell if they were happy, mad, tired or relaxed, by the way their lips are perched. I remember the day I forgot those details of my mother’s face. I remember the feeling of confusion when I realized that I couldn’t place what her face looked like. I thought I could probably point her out in a crowd but I wasn’t sure. It was gut wrenching. The woman who brought me into the world, the one who I share so many features with, i'd forgotten. I remember having dreams trying to find my mother and asking strangers if they'd seen her, but not actually knowing how to describe her. I couldn’t remember the details; it had been too long without her. My mother was constantly in and out of my life on drugs, and sometimes it was months, and even years without knowing her whereabouts. Now as a mom, without a mom, I have anxiety about letting every detail sink in. The pressure to remember it all is haunting. It’s a weird and indescribable feeling knowing you’re living your life in the moment that you know you’ll always yearn to have back. Oh, how bittersweet to think I’m probably living my best days now.
When my mother returned from being absent for God knows how long, I remember looking at her when she walked through the door and it was like looking at a stranger. I remember after she fell asleep I climbed next to her and just stared at her face and began to study it. I traced my finger over a scar i'd forgotten about. I closed my eyes and tried to envision her face to see if I truly had it engrained in my head. I knew she would leave again and I didn't want to forget the next time. I had no idea that this technique would come in handy one day when I was preparing myself for the future heartbreak of my babies growing up.
Thanks mom, I really do appreciate these moments a lot more because of you. It may not be on the terms we would want, but I’m still thankful for these life lessons.
Hold your babies, and love them. This precious time will be a distant memory before you know it.