Motherhood comes in all shapes and sizes. For some mothers, they have their decided upon number of babies and they know they are done. Whether it’s their second, third, or sixth, they savor that last baby because they have decided they are done.
But for some of us, we look at our “baby” and realized he’s six . . . or eight . . . or ten. And it dawns on us that this was our “last” even though we hadn’t decided we were done.
We always assumed we’d have another one, but time passed and now . . .
I can’t remember the last time I rocked him.
When did he stop asking for a song at bedtime? What was the last song I sang to him?
He doesn’t draw pictures for me anymore. Where is the last picture he drew me? Why didn’t I keep it?
When did he stop calling me “Mommy” and start calling me “Mom”?
All the questions run through your mind when you realize that circumstances made you “done” having kids before you were ready.
And we all arrive at this point in time differently . . .
Or time just passes by so quickly that you wake up one day and it’s been a decade since you were pregnant.
And it doesn’t matter how many children you already have . . .
The point is, you never said, “I’m done.” In the back of your mind, you kept telling yourself you’d have another one . . . soon . . . one day . . . some day.
But that day never came.
You are not alone, Mama.
Even if you feel like you are. Even if you’ve only thought this and never said it out loud because you think your spouse, friends, sister will think you’re crazy.
You already have the perfect two kids.
You’re almost forty.
Your life is busy enough.
But deep down, you feel robbed.
You can’t remember what it was like being pregnant that first time, or second time.
You want, one more time, to feel those little kicks.
You can’t remember your last baby’s first cry, and you want so badly to hear a “first cry” one more time.
You want to swaddle a newborn again.
You want to be there for the “firsts” — first smile, first laugh, first steps.
You want to soak up babyhood and toddlerhood in a way you couldn’t when you were a new mom in your twenties . . . or a working mom in your early thirties with two kids under three . . . or a sleep-deprived mom struggling with a third baby and two little ones needing all of you.
You told yourself . . .
I’ll know what I’m doing with the second one.
I’ll be less busy with the next one because I’ll be at a better place in my career.
I’ll wait a few more years for the next one so my older kids are more independent.
And you promised yourself you’d savor the next one.
But there wasn’t a next one . . .
And now you have to scramble to savor what’s left of motherhood because it’s flying past you faster than you ever imagined.
I recently read that there are only 940 Saturdays between your child’s birthday and when they leave for college.
Where are you?
Me? I have less than half those Saturdays left. And then my motherhood journey is over. Despite me telling myself that I wasn’t done. That I’d have a second baby. Yet, here I am, on the verge of my son’s tenth birthday realizing, this is it. I have these remaining years of being his mom and savoring our time.
And that’s not to say I’ve wasted the past 10 years, because I haven’t. I’ve always been a “seize the moment” and “enjoy the little things” kind of person. Over the past 10 years of my son’s life we’ve played, painted, made messes, read good books together, cooked together, traveled, splashed in mud puddles, spent entire days doing nothing but watching movies, and eaten dessert before dinner.
But I find myself asking the same questions I listed above, and more . . .
When did he get too big to enjoy blowing bubbles?
When was the last time he needed me to wash his hair?
When was the last time we watched Curious George together?
When did he stop watching Paw Patrol?
When did he stop playing with trains?
What was the last bedtime story I read to him?
These silly, seemingly insignificant things faded into the background when I wasn’t paying attention.
I look around and realize that things that used to be a huge part of our day-to-day life — Curious George on the television, wooden trains and tracks all over the living room — have been replaced with MasterChef Junior and LEGOs all over the floor. Picture books at bedtime have been replaced with, “Mom, I want to read by myself tonight.”
All I can do is encourage you to enjoy what’s left.
Embrace the replacements. Putting wooden train tracks together and driving trains on them was easy! Play time was a breeze when he was little. But now . . . I’ve really tried to figure out LEGOs despite being really bad at them! A mother/son trip to LEGOLAND was a big hit too!
Find new things to enjoy together. We’ve replaced bedtime stories with audio books in the car. We recently finished listening to the entire Narnia series and are now listening to A Wrinkle In Time. No, it’s not quite the same as snuggling up and reading The Good Night Train. But it’s helping me see this new, “grown-up” side when he asks questions or makes observations about the book we’re listening to.
Share one of your interests with your kids. I am delighted to report that my son has embraced my love of the theatre when I (on a whim) snagged last-minute tickets to Phantom of the Opera last year. Now we try to see as many shows as we can — both local theatres and larger productions passing through town.