A little sketch of motherhood thus far:
Big baby yawns eke out from folded baby fists all the way down to curled baby toes with scrunchy baby eyes and a wide-open baby mouth. Unselfconscious expressions, unselfconscious sounds. A precious little body curled trustingly against my chest. Sleeping, crying, eating in my arms. Simple, demanding needs. First little baby smiles. Those early baby giggles. Tipsy-topsy sitting.
Wobbly steps, reaching arms, proud little face. Up the stairs and into cupboards. “Ma-ma, da-da, na-na, pa-pa,” said by children for generations back, but as precious as though it were the very first time in the history of humanity.
Such a miniature human with so much personality.
This child likes music. This child likes balls. This child likes animals. This child talks non-stop. This child is silent and shy. This child is physical and rough. This child is thoughtful and calm.
A tiny little scientist watching everything and everyone, testing the way snow tastes, the way dirt feels under fingertips, the way a caterpillar crawls, the way the leaves crunch, the way the body moves.
Nursery rhymes, the alphabet, and counting—one little footstep on the road to literacy. The awkward preschool scrawl of mingled capitals and lowercase letters, but oh, a name!—my child’s name!
Baby fat has fallen completely away. Lean young body, strong young muscles.
Learning about friendship independently now, no longer under mother’s watchful gaze. Perhaps sitting down at the piano. Kicking a ball awkwardly in some cases, gracefully in others, all the way across the soccer field. Bowing at Taekwondo. Racing a bicycle down the street and eventually, all the way out of my sight.
Bringing home a poem or composition that makes me smile. Report cards and notes that sometimes make me worry. A thank you murmured without prompting for some little service rendered. Cookies freshly baked by eager young hands. Down the hill all alone, trudging back up victorious and laughing.
We mamas, we commonly say we’re going to miss this. Someday I’m going to look back with longing, we think. We berate ourselves when we are a little short-tempered because we think to ourselves, someday I’ll want these days back. And, oh, they are both glorious and challenging. Messes and arguments, pettiness and petulance, whininess and wiggliness.
But, do you know what? I’ve never heard anyone say this before, but I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m not going to miss it.
Even with joyful days that end with my children exulting, “This was the best day ever!” Even with days such as those, I’m not going to miss it.
Even with sandy smiles or snowy mittens, even with tiny, little kisses and warm, little boy hugs, I’m not going to miss it.
Even with the complete trust of baby innocence and soft little baby fingers, I’m not going to miss it.
Will there be some regrets? Surely there will be. A child I should have gotten help for sooner. Many moments when I lost my temper. Occasions when I missed a valuable opportunity to listen. But I’m going to have grace for that imperfect version of me, forgive her, and move on.
Like everyone, there will be moments when I look back on their childhood days and those bittersweet feelings well up inside me, but I won’t wish them back to babyhood. There won’t be an itching yearning for days gone by. There’s too much goodness now and to come, to waste any time on wishing for days that are passed.
My babies are boys now, and someday they’ll be men, and I’m hopeful it can all be good.
I adored my four little infants-in-arms. I cherished those busy little toddlers. I loved those active little preschoolers. I am still treasuring my growing children.
I am beginning to honor my developing tween. I am looking forward to nurturing my evolving teenagers. I am anticipating supporting those maturing young adults. I foresee admiring those progressing men.
Sometimes, will I look back and remember? Yes, I’m sure I will. Will I reminisce? Absolutely. But will I want it back? Will I miss it? No, I don’t think I will.
I’m going to live it the best I can now. I’m going to build snowmen and go sledding. I’m going to go down the waterslides and splash in the pool. I’m going to hold them in my lap for the story and cuddle up on the couch for the movie. Sometimes, they’ll do their thing while I do my thing. I’m not going to bemoan that I didn’t spend every second with them. And when these days have gone past, I’m going to smile, and maybe sometimes sigh at my mistakes, but I’m not going to miss it.