So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

My eldest daughter married last October. A year has slipped by and the foundation of her marriage has been built. This is cosmic sleight-of-hand. Just last week, she was an infant sleeping in my arms.

On an overcast day last year on my sister’s farm, I waved a final goodbye to my firstborn baby’s childhood. The feisty, red-haired girl in the pansy-print dress and pigtails had magically transformed into a beautiful woman in a bridal gown. Perhaps my mother felt the same 24 years ago when I did the same.

How did I miss it? When did she grow up?

RELATED: Lord, Please Don’t Let Me Forget

At least twice the weekend of that child’s wedding, I caught a glimpse of my then-12-year-old daughter and wondered who that woman was. Seriously, I didn’t recognize her at first. She looked so mature. 

She didn’t look like my little girl anymore. The flash of a smile gleaming with braces reassured me it really was her. Those braces are now off, revealing straight teeth that make her look even older than her 13 years. How does removing braces have that effect on a face? Nobody warns you.

The braceless teenager now stands two inches taller than me. She wears a size 11 shoe. This is madness. She looks like a young woman. Yet at some point she, too, was a blanket-clad bundle of softness, slumbering in my arms.

RELATED: You’re a Little Less Baby Today Than Yesterday

Now she’s on the precipice of entering high school. She’s hurtling toward full-blown teenage life, complete with pep rallies and drivers’ education courses. There will be final exams to study for and friendships to cultivate. This is to say nothing of the proms where girls don a flourish of taffeta and high heels, transforming them into women for an evening.

Sometimes I think about the fact I only have five more years of her childhood to enjoy.

In that short span, she will mature further. She’ll get good at lots of new things. She’ll fail and hopefully, learn from it. She’ll develop her own ideas and ways of seeing the world. I pray her tender heart and love for Jesus continue to blossom as she grows.

Then there’s my 8-year-old son. He’s growing taller, too. His dangling legs kick my husband in the shins when he tries to carry him to bed asleep. His face is thinning into a face that isn’t my baby anymore. The fat baby in the Tigger costume has vanished. He’s losing teeth now and racking up cash for them. In fact, when he “lost” a tooth last year, he admitted, “I’ve been looking to get my hands on some cash.” He pulled the tooth on purposeforcibly yanked his tooth out for money.

Beside his shrewd financial aims are deep, philosophical questions and statements. These include things like “Why are dolphins mammals but need to live in the water?” and, “I think God wants me to be a comedian so I can share jokes with people who don’t have any.”

Watching my children grow reminds me that life flows on, and we are powerless to stop it.

RELATED: “Your Son Growing Up Will Feel Like the Slowest Breakup You’ve Ever Known” Aches in Every Mother’s Heart

I used to tell them they had to freeze and couldn’t get any older. They would laugh like crazy at this command. Then they’d openly defy it, outgrowing their clothes and getting too big to carry to bed.

With my first child, I was unaware. I didn’t know to slow down and savor it. The years slipped by without my permission. Her childhood lives in cellophane-paged albums and boxes of film negatives. Now and then I come across these photos. Tears come as I remember it all.

My younger two are babies of the digital age. I take pictures of them all the time, both mundane and milestone moments. I do it because I now know time is a thief and steals our babies away. 

It turns them into adults who graduate from college and get married. 

It turns them into eighth-graders who look like women. 

It turns them into tooth-yanking boys who used to be toothless babies.

Immortalizing them in imperfect, everyday moments is my way of selfishly hoarding these memories. I make no apology for it because I need to remember. I need proof I once had babies.

RELATED: Savor These Moments, Mama, Becuase Time Flies

Another October blows in with falling leaves and another birthday for me. I marvel because I grew up, too. The awkward girl with the Dorothy Hamill haircut has metamorphosized into a 40-something mother of three. 

The rebellious teenager has become a God-fearing, praying mother, interceding for blessing and protection over her three children. I’m certain my own mother asks “Who is that woman?” about me sometimes, too. Her strong-willed, Garanimals-wearing little one has become middle-aged. Just like that.

Every mama’s heart is burdened with the weight of her children’s fleeting childhoods.

But the beauty is that we are still mamas in every season.

They may be too big to carry.

They may be living with their spouses.

But we are still mamas.

Lord help us to impart something good in them before they fly.

Tracy Gerhardt-Cooper

Tracy Cooper is a New Jersey wife, mom, teacher, and writer. She loves Earl Grey tea, quiet mornings, and autumn leaves. You can read her blog, Earl Grey and Yellow, and follow her work on Medium. 

I’ll Never Be Ready for My Son To Let Go of Me

In: Motherhood, Tween
Tween boy and mom

The arts-and-crafts tote overflowed with cylinders of petrified Play-Doh, crispy-bristled paintbrushes, and Elmer’s glue bottles with clogged applicator tips. Underneath it sat a stack of spiral notebooks with homework from previous years: simple fractions, facts about fossils and chlorophyll, vocabulary words neatly written on blue lines. Star Wars characters were sporadically doodled in the margins.  None of its contents had been touched in years. Yet, the very second I tipped it upside down into the garbage dumpster—unwittingly blasting a flume of silver glitter into the garage ceiling—I felt deep, aching sadness and enormous regret.  When did fuzzy pipe-cleaners become nostalgia-worthy?...

Keep Reading

To the Emotional Mom of a High School Senior, Enjoy It

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Teen girl in graduation gown, color photo

Dear moms of high school seniors, I see your posts on social media, and I sense your excitement, mixed with anxiety and a bit of sadness (if we are being completely honest). I notice your photos of all the lasts, and I celebrate your child’s accomplishments with you. I see you, and I know you because I have been you, twice now.  I feel the almost palpable sinking feeling that hits in the pit of your stomach when you think about them moving on to the next stage. How is it possible they have grown from such a tiny, helpless...

Keep Reading

I Know My Friends Aren’t Bothered by My Messy House, but I Am

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Sad woman by laundry pile

My house screams at me. It screams to clear off the kitchen counters, to put away the clean clothes, to organize the shoe collection in our entry, to gather up the scattered toys, to sweep the crumbs up, to place the throw pillows back on the couch, to clean off the table—you get the idea. Everything in my sight speaks volumes to the state it does not want to be in, for the chaos it is imposing.  Keeping home is a labor of love and never of balance for me. Everything that is cleaned, made, or organized will always get...

Keep Reading

Dear Preschool Teachers, I’m Going to Miss You So Much

In: Child, Motherhood
preschool teacher sitting with kids on her lap

Dear preschool teachers, There’s just no other way to say this— I’m going to miss you so much. You are the first adults outside of our family to spend your days with my children, and watching your relationships grow and develop this year has been the most bittersweet privilege. I’m going to miss the bright smiles that light up your faces every time my kids come bounding toward you on good days, and how tenderly you hold their little hands and guide them away from me on the tough ones. RELATED: Dear Preschool Graduate, I’m So Proud of You I’m...

Keep Reading

Don’t Let Anyone Rush You, Mama

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother with two kids at home relaxing

From the moment our children are born, other people make it challenging to stay in the present moment—they start asking questions that look forward instead of at the now we are in. Can you believe how big she’s getting, where did your newborn go? Oh my goodness, he’ll be walking any day now! Are you thinking about preschool? What will you do when they’re both in school? What will you do when your baby goes to college? While these questions may come with good intentions, they’re not helpful at all. We moms need to be allowed to be fully in...

Keep Reading

There Are a Million Reasons Being a Mom Is Hard

In: Motherhood
Overwhelmed mom with child at home

Being a mom is hard.   The endless messes to clean up. The sleepless nights and sticky fingers touching everywhere. The meal prep, the nap schedule, the tantrums, the kitchen sink overflowing with dishes . . . oh, the dishes.   And then as they get older, there’s managing all the activities and the carpooling. The homework you can’t figure out. (Are you smarter than a 5th grader? The answer is no, no I’m not.)   The endless to-do list and the pressure to always put someone else’s needs before your own.  No doubt, it’s hard being a mom. But that is the obvious stuff....

Keep Reading

You Are So Much More than the Doubts in Your Head

In: Living, Motherhood
Little girl looking out window, color photo

Keep pushing. Push through every doubt the enemy instills in your mind.  Push through the depression. Push through the worrisome moments. Push through that anxiety that won’t let you win.  You’ve got to keep going. Keep moving forward.  You are a great mother. You are a great wife. You are a great employee and an even better friend.  RELATED: Struggling With Mental Health Makes You a Bad Mom—And Other Lies I’ve Believed Don’t get stuck in the same spot that depression has led you and those thoughts that say you aren’t good enough or worthy enough.  You are.  God says...

Keep Reading

Motherhood Is Hard Because You’re Doing It Right

In: Motherhood
mother holding young child

Before having children, I had a very romanticized idea of motherhood. Sure, I knew it would be hard. But I visualized the beautiful moments ahead: cuddling in bed with my baby in the mornings, sharing favorite books at bedtime, exploring the seashore, and jumping in puddles. I thought I would feel competent and purposeful, and yes, love every moment. What a reality check I was in for.  As a stay-at-home mom to a 3-year-old and a baby, those amazing moments felt few and far between. I felt utterly dragged down by the monotony of it all—not by the moments with...

Keep Reading

Just the Three of Us

In: Motherhood
Mother and father holding hands with daughter as they walk, color photo

On the eve of my daughter’s seventh birthday, I leaned against her doorway watching her sleep so peacefully. I roamed around my home admiring her baby photos and our little family. I blinked and my baby is growing up, and yet, the five years it took to have her felt like a decade. I remind my little girl she is a miracle when she requests a sibling. How do I explain that my body has officially retired when I couldn’t accept it myself? I was first diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 19 and was informed I had a...

Keep Reading

Dear Child, God Sees All of You—And So Do I

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Mom and young son painting together

Math has always come easily to him. Even from the beginning stages when we counted wooden blocks on the living room floor, the numbers just came to him. “How many blocks are there?” I asked him, pointing to the scattered row of blocks. I expected him to count them. He was only three or four years old. “Six,” he answered promptly. “Yes . . . but how did you know that?” I asked hesitantly. He had not taken the time necessary to have counted them. “Three and three are six,” he replied. And on it went. The math came easily,...

Keep Reading