I never knew how quickly tears could sneak up on me until I became a mother.

A few nights ago, I stuck my head inside my 9-year-old’s bedroom before I headed to bed. Tucked in beside him were two stuffed animals. Even though he has a net full of stuffies in the corner of his room, I can’t remember the last time he slept with any of them. Mostly, they just collect dust, but I can’t seem to part with them just yet.   

As I made my way into my bedroom, tears began streaming down my face. It was as if those tears had no other choice but to come out when I saw him cradling his stuffed animals.  

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As I lay in bed, I wondered why I had been so instantly overcome with emotion over something that seemed so trivial.

And then it hit me.

I am going through a hard season of parenting—where almost daily I feel like I am failing at giving my son what he needs from me.

I constantly question if I’m being too hard on him or not hard enough. As he lurches toward being a tween, I can feel him slowly slipping further away as our personalities clash more and more often.

Even though the early years of parenting were not easy by any means, they were simpler. Parenting now feels much more complicated. And I don’t think it will get any easier as we make our way through the tween and teen years.

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And I think that is why seeing him cradling his stuffed animals brought me to tears so quickly. It reminded me of the past—when he was younger and would tell me anything and everything. When he would always ask for extra snuggles at bedtime. When he would hold his stuffies close each night as he drifted off to sleep.

It reminded me of an easier season of parenting. 

And maybe that is why he chose to grab those two stuffed animals out of his net that night. Because maybe he needed a reminder of easier times, too.

The unexpected tears that come along with motherhood? They are just part of the journey. But it seems they always have a message to share if we are willing to listen.  

Mary Ann Blair

Mary Ann Blair is a stay-at-home mom living in the Pacific Northwest with her two little gentlemen and hubs. She loves connecting with other parents who like to keep it real! Her work has been published on Her View From Home, Motherly, A Fine Parent, Perfection Pending, That’s Inappropriate, Pregnant Chicken, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Red Tricycle and in Chicken Soup For the Soul. She can be found at maryannblair.com or on Facebook at Mary Ann Blair, Writer.