Motherhood

Mamas, Please Quit Mourning Your Children Growing Up

Mamas, Please Quit Mourning Your Children Growing Up www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Elizabeth Spencer

There it was again in my Facebook feed: someone’s post of an adorable birthday girl with a sweet smile and a sprinkled cupcake, ready for the eating.

And beneath it, along with the likes and loves? A sad, crying Facebook “reaction” face. 

Which breaks my heart.

Tears and sadness because this little girl is turning a year older? Because she’s “growing up?”

This is all over Facebook and the mom blogging world these days. Last times posts and “I’m so sad my baby is getting older” pieces…and crying-face emojis in reaction to a happy birthday picture.

And I get it: I really do.

I know birthdays and milestones remind us what has been and might be no more. I know they bring to the forefront time that’s gone by and is now gone. I know they hit us with what we loved in the past and might miss in the future.

But we have children to raise them. We bring them into our families to teach them and nourish them and nurture them and protect them for the future we want for them.

So when they reach a moment when they are one step closer to that future, shouldn’t we be happy and joyful and incredibly grateful?

Tomorrow is promised to no one, and too many parents know that full well. What would that mom and dad who lost their child at Disney give to be able to put up another happy birthday post? What would I give to be able to share that the baby I lost to miscarriage has turned into a toddler or a tween or a twentysomething? What would any parent who’s lost a child at any age give to be able to announce to the world that they are turning another year older?

You know the answer: they would give anything. Anything. And the reactions to those announcements would be pure likes and loves and joy and celebration.

I’m the mom of two teenage daughters. I’ve just been sideswiped by the realization that my daughter’s senior year is happening NOW. I can’t pick my girls up or nuzzle them on my shoulder. I can–and do–hold them on my lap, but they lop over onto the chair. All of which is to say that I well understand the temptation to weep for the past and to regret all things I’ll never do with my children again.

But I did do them. I had those moments, and now I am looking forward to new seasons, new joys, new blessings in the future.

Please, mamas, savor the now. Suck the life out of every moment you can with your children, whatever their ages. Try to notice all the things you might miss down the road. Be grateful for today and the sweet pleasures it holds. But when–if–tomorrow comes, do not mourn it. It is a gift and not to be taken for granted. Make your announcement, put up your post…and then wait for others to celebrate with you.

Photo credit: halbag via Visual hunt / CC BY

About the author

Elizabeth Spencer

Elizabeth Spencer is a great sinner redeemed by a great Savior. She’s been married for 23 years to an exceedingly patient husband and is mom to two teenage daughters who make her look really good as a mother. She blogs at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and, if pressed to demonstrate a hidden talent, can stand on her head.

20 Comments

  • I think we walk a fine line between relishing the past and embracing the future. Taking each day as it comes and savoring the moments in it is truly a gift – one I hope I can continue to develop as my girls go through these fast-paced teenage years! Thanks for the perspective today!!

  • This is a great post! I think you bring up a great argument. Sometimes I get that sad feeling, but it is so true that we are here to help raise them up, not try amd keel them as a baby! It is more exciting to enjoy the moment and help them grow to mature, respectful adults! (Then you get grandkids to baby again?)

    • Bree, I LOVE the way you think! There is always something to miss in life, but I personally don’t want to forget to enjoy the present just because I’m clinging to the past. As for grandchildren, the few mom friends I have who are already in this stage assure me it’s THE BEST. πŸ˜‰ Thanks so much taking time to read my little post and to leave your thoughtful words!

    • Aw, thank you so much, Stacy…it’s lovely to hear from you! You put it perfectly: “it’s bittersweet to see them get older but an honor to watch them grow up.” Amen right back at ya, mama! πŸ™‚

  • I had a little bit of sadness with my toddler turning three this year because he’s just so much more independent. But any sadness I have was overwhelmed by my joy and pride in seeing him learn and grow so much.

  • We don’t hear this perspective very often so thank you for sharing it! I loved when my children were small, but I also love it just as much that they’re my adult friends now. Blessings in every stage. Enjoy the one we’re in!

    • Thank you, Lisa! I will say that I was a little hesitant about writing this because–as you correctly noted–it does run a little contrary to current mom culture. Which I completely understand! But you’ve put it all together so well: “Blessings in every stage. Enjoy the one we’re in.” Yes, mama. πŸ™‚

  • You are so right! Spot on. I wonder if it comes out of a fear of the unknown future – just a thought. I’ve delighted in each stage of my kids lives – and now with older teens and young adults it is a delight to walk beside them as they step out.

    • Aw, thank you, Belinda! I think YOU are spot-on with this: “I wonder if it comes out of a fear of the unknown future.” I’d never thought of it that way, but you are right: we know what happened in the past, so maybe that lures us to want to hang onto it? In any case, you’ve painted a beautiful picture of what the future (unknown though it may be) can hold: the “delight” of walking beside our children as they grow. Thank you so much for stopping by and for leaving your lovely words!

  • Celebrating my children’s birthdays has always brought me much joy! I love planning, making their favorite foods, and doing whatever else comes with their special day. I love watching my kids grow up. Sometimes, though, I do think about memories of the little kid days, and I can’t help but get emotional and miss it and “mourn” it. Especially during some of the hard teen moments. πŸ˜‰ Some days I look forward to being an empty nester, some days I long for toddler cuddles, and some days I cherish the present for what it is. It’s a mix for me for sure!

    • Brandi, you could not be more right: that mama “mix” is TRUTH! I’m living in those teen years myself and give my hearty “amen, sister” to everything you so thoughtfully wrote. I was just telling my youngest daughter yesterday how her older sister had slept on my shoulder on the couch the first two nights we were home, and all these years later, I can still remember the preciousness of that. But now that baby is starting her senior year…and I know there will be new precious moments to savor. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and words here!

  • This is fantastic. I mean, ask me again when my baby starts kindergarten but for now, I’m all nodding and agreeing with your mama-wisdom. πŸ˜‰ (Seriously, I really value your wisdom!!)

    • Well, bless your heart, Mary! Thank you so much! And I freely grant you the right to withdraw your approval of this post when your baby starts kindergarten. Mama gets to feel what she feels on that day (among many others). P.S. Having been through that day myself a few (ahem) years ago, I recommend stocking up on Oreos (double-stuffed or otherwise…) well in advance. πŸ˜‰

  • I agree with what’s at the heart of your article but for the sake of others who may feel as I have, I’ll chime in. The article almost completely discredits some serious grieving that some parents have to go through while raising their children. When my now-three-year-old turned 10-months-old, something about her beginning to crawl triggered a very intense feeling of loss for me. I cried for about a month because I was losing my baby. Yes, I was gaining a toddler and no, I was not spilling crying emojis all over Facebook but I had to honor my feelings and go through the grieving process to get through to the other side. I enjoy my three-year-old immensely but I’ll never hold my infant daughter in my arms again and that was one of the most beautiful times of my life – not one that was easy for me to let go of. I realize this grief is all about me and my experience and that it’s selfish in a way. To be fully unselfish in this process is to support my child as she grows and let her go, little by little, so that she can bloom into who she will become. But my journey is equally important, and in my journey there are times when I have to grieve my own loss as I let her go. And it may just be that the intensity of my love for her isn’t really a bad thing. It’s who I am, and I must honor myself in order to set an example for her to honor her own feelings as she grows.

    • Thank you for sharing your heart and perspective here, Autumn. I realize this did not come across in what I wrote, but I am actually feeling some of what you described as I send my firstborn off to college. I am feeling the loss of what has been and won’t be again but at the same time am so grateful she has reached this exciting milestone–and, I’m so looking forward to what lies ahead for both of us. I’m truly sorry what I wrote so insensitively discredited the feelings of moms who share your experience. Thank you for taking time to respond.