As They Grow

To my first born child, when you were placed in my arms I had prayed so long for you, dreamed about you……thought there was NO way that God could craft something to meet my expectations…but then there you were; and you were more than I ever dreamt you would be. Perfect, ten fingers, ten toes, fluffy duck soft hair (a headful), a perfect nose,rose bud lips and eyes so bright and excited to greet this world. I thought of all the things I would teach you, I would teach you to read, to write your name, your abcs, how to count……..but oh the things you taught me far surpassed what I could ever teach you! A book read by me to you at bedtime became an adventure, you took me to places I haven’t been since childhood, you taught me to stop and smell the roses, to slow down and remember that life isn’t all about rushing, but enjoying the simple things. You taught me to smile and laugh when life is anything but sad. You taught me to notice the miracles this life has to offer, a fluttering butterfly, how beautiful the stars were, you taught me to stop and watch the world…….you were a breath of fresh air, a trip back to innocence.
You were the best baby, I was a new mom and worried about every sniffle, every cough, I was on edge, but you always reassured me with your happy demeanor. You taught me mornings (which I hate) were so much better when you woke up to a smiling baby with bright blue eyes looking at you through the crib. There were days I was overwhelmed, I think you sensed it because you were so laid back. You were and still are perfect.
At two I gave birth to your little sister. I worried, would you feel like you were replaced? I cried because I was excited to add a sister to our family, to give you a playmate but I longed for our little trips out! Our daily excursions, our one on one time! I wondered if you fretting because this new baby demanded attention and you no longer the only focus on my daily schedule. It was an adjustment for you, you weren’t sure about this new baby……but as time passed (and lots of fighting) you fell in love with your sister. You reminded me how there was nothing like a sister! I worried because you were struggling with things that come natural for most kids but they were so difficult for you, but you were determined and kept on…….and wow, you have proven so many people wrong, you are strong, you are a trooper! I admire your strength and determination, you don’t see a challenge as a defeat……..you meet it head on and you come out on top!
I watched you grow, marveled at your first steps, your first words, I filled three scrapbooks of your pictures before you turned one! Then suddenly you are taking your next big step……..KINDERGARTEN!
I wasn’t ready, no way my beautiful baby was a little girl……..I wasn’t ready! Gone was my tiny baby, gone our days together, gone was my toddler! I miss her, I miss her needing me. Today, as I registered you for school, I was so apprehensive, so scared, so anxious. You were again my reassurance, “It is okay mom, I will stay little, I will still see you, I need you, I love you……..you showered with me compliments. Today as I sat registering you for school, getting you a physical, and eye exam…….I was worried but you would reach over and hold my hand, letting me know it would be okay! You were all dressed up in your pretty little chevron dress, and entertained me as I fretted by swirling around the waiting area. Where did you go, my tiny baby? Where did you go my sweet infant? When did you become a little girl? I ask you every night, to promise not to grow and every night I say, “Don’t you grow any tonight, ok?” You always respond, “I won’t Mommy, I will stay little!” When the morning wakes you I look at you and say, “Braelyn you promised you would stay little and you are grew!” You always smile, then you say, “I sorry, Mommy, I only growed a little!” It has become a little ritual with us, but lately it makes me a little sadder, because it feels that you actually grow EVERY night. Today with misty tears I woke you from slumber, and told you it was time to register for school, you looked at me and said, “I am sorry I grew up big overnight mom………I will go back to little but after I get to ride the bus!” My sweet, caring little girl.
Tonight I looked down upon your sleeping face as you slumbered, I kissed you, I held you a little longer, then as your eyes fluttered close I sat stroking your soft hair, staring at your beautiful features……..I stared at you in awe, just like I did the day you were born……..again I fell in love with you again, just like the day we met! I fell in love with a beautiful little girl, with a loving heart, a contagious laugh, long lashes resting softly on your cheeks, your perfect shaped brows, the tiny lips that I always find a smile resting upon………today I fell in love with a kindergartener. A little girl with excitement, ready to embark on a new adventure, but still wanting to be with your mom. You are so beautiful, so perfect, you changed my world!!!!!!!!!!! I miss that baby you were, but oh GOD how I love the girl you are becoming. You amaze me with your soft heart, your funny sense of humor! Life as a mom is filled with filled with guilt and equal part excitement, joy and sadness, sass and class. I love you, and just when I couldn’t think I could love you more, somehow my heart expands everyday! After 8 miscarriages, you were given to me, and you were worth the hurt of loss, worth every sacrifice, you are perfect. My wish for you is that you never let this world change you, and at the end of the day if this world knocks you down then your mommy is here for you to pick you up! I love you more than the breath I breathe…. Love your mommy, the mommy who is reluctantly letting you grow up, the mommy who is going to be with you every step of the way! Love, Mommy

The Rarity of Taking a Moment For Me

I sink up to my nose in a bubble bath…….ahhhhh, alas, privacy. I linger in the sweet scent of the fragrant bubbles that I never get to enjoy. I light the candle, the one I purchased just for a night like this! I listen to the sound of the soft music I had chosen, meant for purposes to unwind. One of the rare times I got to choose music preference, usually my music was limited to ABCs and Wheels On The Bus…..listening to my chosen music break the inviting silence, I remembered how much I loved music, accompanied by only my presence, the way the candle flickered, and the feeling of freedom. For this moment, I am free! I am not, for the present moment, Mommy, I am just April. Some days, especially like the one I had today; I forgot that my identity extended beyond being a mother. I leaned against the back of the tub, remembering that I am also me. With guilt, I realize, I miss being me. I only get glimpses of myself, when I have time to reflect on who I am. I take a slow pull from my ice cold, adult beverage, I had almost forgotten I was an adult! Oh the sweet rebellion of one singular drink as I soak in the bliss of aloneness! Sweet luxuries don’t happen like this often, I sigh into the steam of the bath, and ask myself if I had remembered to breathe that day, or had I been too busy to stop and simply catch my breath.

I take in oxygen, then slowly allow my head to sink under the water. I can hear the voice of John Legend, muted by the water surrounding my ears, but utterly beautiful. I emerge feeling baptized by the liquid washing over me. Here, for this moment, I am just me. The Mommy voice tries to sneak in, “You are enjoying this too much!” I silence her with another pull from my rebellious drink, but the thought still lingers. I feel guilt, damn it, stupid mommy voice, guilting me in my one few selfish moments. I drown myself in the music, letting it resonate the parts of me that stay buried all day. I am not a closet drinker, I am not a “drop your kids off all the timer,” I am not a “mother who despises her duties,” as a matter of fact, I relish in my childrens’ company, but sometimes I need to tap into that part of me that is more than a mom.

I shave my legs, without haste, relishing in the way it feels to be preened and the unhurried glide of the razor over my skin. I massage my hair with shampoo, intoxicated by the sense of just pampering myself. I condition my hair, I smell the sweet, fresh scent of the conditioner that I save only for moments like these. I exfoliate and scrub my flesh until it is free from all the grime of the day. Thoroughly clean now, I just linger. I don’t want to leave this peaceful little world, not just yet. The truth is, I need these rare moments, they help me remember I am human, I am still a woman, I am still April, and I still need to find my inner zen. There is an inner battle with the mommy in me and the guilt of simply being me.

Then a familiar tune sneaks through the speakers, one that the girls love, one they sing along to in the backseat, the one that makes their little eyes light up, the way their innocent voices sing the chorus, although the words aren’t precisely right. A grin stretches across my face. I find myself singing along joyously, dancing like they do when I peak at them through the rearview mirror, and I feel joy. Joy I wouldn’t have felt if I had not become a mommy! “You have amazing kids,” the mommy voice whispers, this time I don’t silence her, she is quite right. I do have amazing kids, they are funny, beautiful, charismatic, and full of life. They are also rambunctious, chaotic, loud, and at times overwhelming, but I love them with the deepest recesses I never thought possible!

I needed times like these, to remember all the chaos, the tears, the mommy, Mommy, MOMMY I need yous that ┬áhear all day, and to just be still for a moment. No needs to be met, no cups to fill, no toys to pick up, no fights to referee, no walls to clean crayons from, it is rejuvenating. You see, I need this to be a better mommy. I need to wash all the defeats of feeling like I am not good enough, that I failed to get my to do list done, how earlier I had lost my patience, the moment when I was too busy to play, and the sadness that reminds me in that Mommy voice, “They won’t be little long, enjoy it!” I enjoy my babies, with all my heart and soul. But there are times I feel defeated, I feel I am not enough, and I have to allow those lost battles to roll off me.

I am a Mommy, first, always first, and that makes me beam with pride. My children’s happiness ALWAYS comes before my own. I have to hold fast to myself sometimes, because the love I give to them is all-consuming, willing to sacrifice all of myself for them, but I know I must hold some tiny piece of myself. Not for self serving purposes, but so my girls truly know who I am. Being a mom is the biggest part of me but it isn’t my entire identity. When my babies grow to have babies of their own, I hope they find escape for a few moments, to realize their self worth is in both parenting and also just because of who they are individually. I hope they do this for their children, so they can be a better version of themselves.

I raise my hand, to run it through my wet, tousled hair. The balance is tough, for your children to be as vital to your life as the air you breathe, and somehow maintaining some time for self reflection. I glance at my now pruned fingers, my mind flashes memories of the girls’ wrinkled fingers after a long bath, and again I smile. My bath is not entirely for myself, it is to reflect on the miracles my girls on. I pull the plug and sit in the tub until the last drop of water slips down the drain, taking my troubles, my worries, my flaws, my downfalls, my not enoughs with it! Forgotten are the messes, the fighting, the mishaps of the day, replaced with all the beautiful things my children bring into my life. I step out of the bathtub, subdued, refreshed, renewed, ready to face another day without the lingering thoughts of yesterday dragging me down. I am ready to be the best possible mom all over again, in the morning. I wrap the warm towel around me, feeling like I just went up against an opponent and won, my victory? No not the bath, my children are my victory, my sanity, my crazy chaotic existence revolves around them! I smile inwardly, I got this! I step out of the tub, barefoot onto a toy meant to cause misery, I toss it into the bath toy basket, with a grin. Oh, no Mr. Ducky, you don’t get to steal my moment of serenity, not tonight, I thought as I poured my unfinished drink into the sink. In my comfiest pjs, hair and teeth brushed, and my legs shaved, I feel human! But just before I slip into bed, I tiptoe down the hall, peak in each of their rooms and drink in the sights of them. “I love you, thanks for letting me be your mom. I don’t deserve you, but I will never stop striving to be the perfect mom you deserve!” I whisper into the night, before sauntering off to bed, I drift off to sleep almost instantly, the last vision is one of them singing along in the backseat because they are where my heaven is.