We’ve all had those moments as mothers. We don’t even realize we’ve been holding our breath until we gasp and fill our lungs with life again.
The first night your newborn sleeps through the night and you glance around your sun-filled bedroom in disbelief, then worry. You hear the baby’s cry, and you breathe with relief, with joy, as you reach for her.
The pediatrician wants some bloodwork, just as a precaution, not really expecting any problems, and the hours until you know the results are numbing. Then, there is the call from the doctor’s office and you breathe. How strange that you never realized you would forget how.
Your 6-year-old is in front of you, riding his new bike as you follow him. He turns for just a second to smile at you and runs into the parked car at the curb. There’s blood and there are screams, and you can’t get the bicycle you are on to move. Time has stopped. As you climb down to take him in your arms and see the gash in his leg that will require stitches, you forget to breathe.
And only on your way home from the emergency room, when you catch his eye in the rear-view mirror and he’s smiling at the dump truck alongside you, do your lungs fully inflate.
There are kindergarten orientations and drivers’ license tests, speaking parts in the dance recital you realize you’re subconsciously mouthing the words to as the applause comes, and you breathe.
Today is the day your daughter is asking the cutest guy in school to the dance and you’re in the lunchroom at work when your cell phone vibrates. There’s a conscious intake of breath.
Bet you think it’s going to get easier as the kids get older, and you will be breathing just fine again.
**Insert laughter here.**
“I didn’t realize you would still be awake or I would have called.”
“I think I’m going to apply to the college we visited last month.”
“My roommate’s brother has a really great car he’s going to sell me.”
“I’m going to ask her to marry me.”
And you breathe.
Then, one quiet afternoon, your phone dings. There’s a beautiful picture of your daughter and her boyfriend standing in front of a Colorado mountain. And there’s an engagement ring on her finger. “Won’t this be great for the Save The Date cards?”
The grandpuppy waddles into your family room wearing a shirt that reads BIG BROTHER. And you realize they’re not adopting another puppy. This will be your first grandchild. A girl. Breathing is optional as the tears wrack your body.
Six weeks later, there’s a picture frame inside that beautifully wrapped package, with a tiny hand waving in the ultrasound picture. Your first grandson. And you breathe.
“We’ve had many conversations, and we’re going to take that out-of-town job, Mom. We’re going next week to look at houses.”
Breathe. It all turns out OK.
And just last week, our teacher daughter sent a screenshot of the most beautiful e-mail I’ve seen in two years. The COVID-19 vaccine will be allotted to teachers in her district beginning March 1st. I gasped, I cried, and I breathed.
It felt wonderful.