I know that these days are numbered.
I watch her play with her dolls, smoothing their hair and talking to them in her sweet mother voice, and I am moved to tears. I take in the moment and make a mental snapshot of her, engrossed in play and the outside world forgotten.
These days are measured.
The days in which her inner world of play mean more than the rising voices of the outer world demanding conformity. She turned 10 years old just a few months ago, and if my older son is any example, the double digits seem to be a harbinger of great and sustained change—of childhood merging slowly, then with great immediacy, into adulthood.
I have great guilt about these feelings and the tears that seem to drop from my cheeks like hot rain at the thought of my growing children. As a pediatric nurse, I have ushered far too many children into the great beyond, and I imagine the disdain of those parents who wish fervently and desperately to have seen their children grow.
I chastise myself for each tear, ashamed—but, still they fall. I mourn for my lost children, even as they stand before me. I cheer for their growth, and I’m thrilled to see them grow into amazing human beings—but still my lap aches for my nursing infant, my chubby toddler, my precocious preschooler.
I hear mothers around me wishing away their childrens’ childhood days. They wish for the day that their child can walk, will sleep in past the dawn and will go to school. They wish for quiet houses, and I want to scream to them that the quiet days will come when their children are grown, and the house is as quiet as a tomb, and you will feel somehow buried in the silence.
I am no longer wishing away the days.
I wish for one more go-round on the merry-go-round of motherhood—one more seemingly infinite stretch of parenting young children.
I have no desire for more children. My three children are all that I will ever need. But, oh—do I wish to get to do it again.
Just one more time, Universe.
Just. One. More. Time.
To hold their infant cheeks against mine, to chase them on their little legs around the living room, to answer the chorus of “whys?” in their preschool years.
I will treasure these burgeoning teen years too. I demand my own presence in these moments as my children blossom before me. My children are such extraordinary beings, and I cannot wait to see what they become.
But, please—allow me this second of mourning. Concede to me this moment of yearning for all of the stages of childhood that have passed far too quickly.
I hold each moment of each of my precious babies’ lives in my heart.
Allow me to remember in each minute, that my arms ache to hold my babies. My love has never faltered and will remain for infinity. Whether they are children or grown adults, I will be their steady guardian for all of the days of my life.
Even as I ache for the days that have gone before us, let me always be their most precious ally—even as they begin to believe that no longer need me.
Author: Amanda Redhead
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Jessica Pankratz