Last night, I celebrated my sixth Halloween as a mom. It was a cold, drizzly night, the nip of winter on our backs. I courageously ventured outdoors with my two little princesses…..Elsa/Braelyn and Anna/Brynlee. We loaded in my Silver Explorer for a night of trick or treating, candy, sugar-filled excitement……and rain. Scotty drove us to the subdivision we always visit, little did I know how different this holiday would be from last year.
Since it was sprinkling we lifted the hatch and the girls and I sat in the back. They hopped out every few houses, but as we walked up to the second house, my six year old turned to me, “Mommy, can we go up by ourselves?” My heart caught in my throat…..was this the same child that only last year clung to my leg as we approached a darkened door step? The little girl who looked to me for reassurance when someone opened the door with a scary costume? I found my voice, “Sure, Braelyn, be sure you say trick or treat and thank them.”
“Alright!” I watched as the two little princesses pranced bravely up to each door, knocked, waited, said trick or treat and then sweetly shouted “thank yous” to each candy giver. I beamed with pride and anxiously awaited the moment of “Mommy, can you carry me? My legs are tired,” or “Mommy, hold me,” or the sleepy little snuggles of a worn out trick or treater…..but none of those moments came. I sat in the back hatch of my truck, ready to leap at the second they needed me…..but the request never transpired. I thought back to the Halloween before this, the tired, weary woman carrying a toddler and holding the hand of a vulnerable 5 year old. I wished for the day when they would be able to walk the whole subdivision without me carrying one or both of them…….but last night when that time came…..I wished for the five Halloweens before it.
My arms ached as they found themselves empty, my legs were restless as they sat crossed in the truck, and my heart broke a little. When did this happen? When did they stop needing me to hold their hand? I watched their tiny blonde heads bob from one house to the other…..I followed in the shadows. I listened to their beautiful little voices, I allowed their laughter to engulf me, and I am not ashamed to say, I cried. I felt like an outsider, seeing them from the eyes of the woman who thought she would never be a mom, and I allowed my tears to mix with the rain that pelted down from the heavens. As I watched them collect their candy, I looked up to the skies and began to pray.
I never thought I would be a mom….yet here I am. Two perfect little creations, and yet I forget to thank you for them. It is like I have been sleeping for the last five years. How did time go so quickly? I cannot remember the last time I truly prayed without drifting off to sleep in the midst of my prayers. I am sorry about that, Father. I got so busy being a mom, I apologize that I didn’t thank you all those times I should have. So tonight, I want to thank you.
Thank you, God, thank you. Thank you for giving me these two kids that fill my heart, exhaust my body, and give me purpose. Thanks for five years of, “Mommy, hold me please!” “Mommy, can you come with me?” and the sleepy little heads that rested on my shoulder before I could get them loaded back in their car seats. I didn’t realize just how much I loved those moments, when my arms were so tired from the weight of a 3 year old, and I hastened my oldest daughter along. I wish I would have slowed down to allow her little legs to keep up. I wish I had held my youngest a little tighter, and breathed the sweet smell of baby magic in, I wish I would have been more patient when those sticky little hands reached for mine. Forgive me, Lord. I did not know how quickly those days would pass……..I was so caught up in making it through them, I forgot to embrace them.
This year their little legs are longer and they outrun me. Their little hands no longer reach for mine as often, and the pleas for help from mommy come less frequently. I wished for this day, but now it seems to mark something beyond my grasp. The beginning of letting them go. It sounds like such a tiny step, but I know it is bridging the gap from infancy and toddlers to the little people they are becoming. Each moment seems bittersweet as I am now a bystander and I can see it more clearly…….I watch as young mothers push strollers, wag tiny little toddlers, I see them pick up tired little bodies and force themselves onward. I view a little tot resting on her mommy’s shoulder, asleep, comforted knowing that she was safe in her mother’s arms. I recognize myself in their faces. They are all tired, sleep deprived, trying to enjoy the moments but wishing for the end of the night to come so they can rest their aching arms. I want to run to them, offer to hold their little one, remind them to slow down for the tiny legs that are trying to keep up with them….but I don’t. I want to tell them it will be alright, to just hold on to them, no matter how hard it seems, to love each exhausting moment of it. I remember others telling me that…….at that moment, I couldn’t heed their words, I just tried to survive another day just as these mothers are.
Today, I am a survivor, I survived up all nights, colic, midnight feedings, teething, and now that I survived them….oh how I miss them. My arms feel empty without the soft weight of a baby nestled in them. On the ride home tonight, I glanced in the rear view at the little girls that happily eat their candy. I try not to grimace as they unwrap each piece and throw the wrappers in the floors. Tonight, Lord, although I am weary, I am present. I am being a part of this memory, this moment, this Halloween will never come again, there will only be one “Elsa and Anna” and I will long for this day long after it has passed. So, tonight I want to thank you. Nothing else, I come to you with no wishes or demands, only thanksgiving in my heart. May I be around for many Halloweens to come, and one day lift my sleeping grandchild from my exhausted daughters arms so I can once more enjoy the sweetness of a sleepy baby upon my shoulder. Excuse me, Lord, I have some little girls who want to share their candy with me, and I am going to steal a few sticky kisses before they go to sleep tonight.