Motherhood makes me feel like I am always waiting.

It is waiting for these magnificent creatures to be born and then go to sleep and then wake up over and over again.

It is waiting for teeth to be brushed and shoes to be put on and homework to be finished and toys to be put away.

It is waiting in doctors’ offices and school pick up lines and Target checkouts and restaurants.

It is waiting for goodnight kisses and middle of the night wake up calls and half-hearted apologies and giggles from underneath the covers to finally cease.

It’s waiting for phone calls to deliver news or for your partner to walk through the door. It’s waiting to go on that couple’s trip or chase your own dreams.

Motherhood is wishing and waiting for the next phase while desperately clinging to the one sitting in front of us.

And then our littles turn big, and the weight of the waiting gets heavier.

It’s waiting for them to come home from school trips and camps. It’s waiting for them to return late-night texts about boyfriends or mid-terms or job offers. It’s waiting for them to wake up in the morning so you can hear about their previous night.

It’s waiting for doors to slam and cars to return to the driveway. It’s waiting for the moody phase to be over and waiting for a new relationship to begin. It’s waiting for decisions and reprimands and ceremonies and achievements.

It’s waiting to let go, and then hoping they return to your arms for one last embrace.

And while the waiting is often the hardest part, the time we think is wasted, there is so much love in it.

When all the other actions of motherhood get overlooked, it’s in the waiting that we support our kids, that they know they can count on us, that they feel the unconditional bond we share with our sons and daughters. A love that is so fierce and without boundaries.

It’s surprise talks while standing in the grocery check out line or finding out their crush while they’re waiting to get asked to the dance. It’s hearing their dreams while you stand outside their door about to take them to practice or finding out they were bullied as you creep forward in school pick up line.

It’s holding hands waiting for news. It’s tight embraces and tears when its good, tighter embraces and more tears when the news is not what we wanted. It’s a quiet presence when nerves are on end and encouraging words and prayers that all will be well for our kids. It’s panic when we fear for our kids’ safety and resolve when we know we must fight for their future.

The waiting never ends in motherhood. It is the hardest part.

But it’s in the waiting that our children grow, that they know they can survive, that they know we will be ever-present in their lives, in one form or another.

It’s in the waiting that we show our strength, our tenderness, our compassion, our unconditional love.

Mothers are made in the waiting.

Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a communications consultant, and blogger. She tries to dispel the myth of being a typical suburban mom although she is often driving her minivan to soccer practices and attending PTA meetings. She writes about parenting, relationships, and w(h)ine on her blog Playdates on Fridays.