Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

Ten years into parenthood, I have come to realize a few things:

There will always be something to worry about.
There will always be something that makes my heart burst with pride.
And they grow from baby to five years old in what seems like a day. 

So far, five is the hardest birthday for me. When my first son turned five, I was in complete shock. How was it possible? How could this little person who had made me a mom, who cried all night and made me wonder if I could really do this motherhood thing, be FIVE years old? But now that boy will turn 10 this year.

And then, his baby sister grew. And grew. And a couple of years ago, SHE turned five. And I thought I was ready. I’d been here before. But it gutted me. My only daughter. Truly the kindest soul I know. Always with a stuffed animal in hand—since she could walk, and still, at five, sneaking them in her backpack as she headed off to big-kid kindergarten.

And then there’s my baby. My little boy who came roaring into this world as one of the biggest babies the nurses had ever seen. The loudest, the funniest, and most stubborn—he completed our family. I think he was a baby once, then a toddler. It’s a blur—which frankly, devastates me. Three little sets of feet running around meant for a few years, we all spun around and around and wiped and cleaned and spilled and wiped and cleaned . . . and then poof. It was over. 

And now, my last baby is about to turn five.

There are no more diapers. Or pacifiers. Or cribs. The stroller has long since retired, and in May, we will say goodbye to preschool forever.

Five. 

Five is hard. Four was not. And for the other two, six was not. I had made peace with five by the time they turned six, so I was ready. But despite knowing it’s coming, I can never properly prepare myself for five.

I am not ready for the last time he says “wobot” and “lellow” and finally masters his Rs and Ls. For the last time I carry him to bed after falling asleep during Friday night family movie night. And the last time he puts his shoes on the wrong feet.

I wish I could freeze four. I tried with the other two, but they went ahead and grew up anyway. And it looks like my baby has his mind set on doing the same.

I’m not ready. Because I know what five means. Although five means more independence and easier vacations and maybe Mom and Dad getting to sleep in on Saturdays once in a while, it also means the beginning of “Mom” over “Mommy.” It means in five years he’ll be nearing 10 like his brother, stuck in video game world and drifting away from Mom a little bit more each day. It means the occasional eye roll and talking back and snuggles getting shorter.

How much longer can I kiss him in front of his friends?

How many more nights will he climb into our bed at 2 a.m.?

How much longer do I have with him running into my arms at school pick-up? 

The other day he drew a picture of him and his sister—no bodies. Only long legs sticking out of their heads. And tears welled up in my eyes. This is four, I whispered to myself. Soon his drawings will be more anatomically correct, and his lowercase Ds won’t look like Bs anymore.

One month. I have one month left of four. Will there be a noticeable difference that day? Will he wake up in his own bed and not mine? Will he look older? God I hope not. But I know he will. And he will smile and feel big and celebrate all the wonderfulness that is five. And it will be just as it should be. Because no, I cannot freeze time. And I shouldn’t try. Because ages five through 10 have been pretty awesome, too. And he deserves to grow up and experience all that life has in store for him. Even if it means I am in the picture a little bit less. 

So fine. I’ll embrace his birthday with Star Wars balloons and new Nerf guns and Power Ranger swords. But I may spend the next month flipping through his baby book and crying in my wine after he falls asleep at night. Because he’s my baby. But I’ve done my job, because he’s ready. Even if I’m not.

Why is five so hard? 100 times harder than four or six. It's a milestone. It means no more preschool and wobots and more "Mom" and less "Mommy" and I'm not ready.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Karen Johnson

Karen Johnson is a freelance writer who is known on social media as The 21st Century SAHM. She is an assistant editor at Sammiches and Psych Meds, staff writer and social media manager for Scary Mommy, and is the author of I Brushed My Hair Today, A Mom Journal for Mostly Together Moms. Follow Karen on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/21stcenturysahm/, Twitter https://twitter.com/21stcenturysahm , and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/the21stcenturysahm/

Yes, We Wanted a Big Family

In: Kids, Motherhood
Big family silhouette

Baby number WHAT?!?! Okay, okay, I know having FIVE children in the modern world is a bit of an anomaly, but the responses we have gotten from sharing our joyful (to us!) news has been a bit over-the-top. You see, my husband and I always dreamt of a big family, verbally expressing four to five children as our ultimate number. After having three, I must say I had to do some convincing to keep going, as my husband felt our hands were pretty full. I do agree our hands were pretty full, but I still felt our hearts could handle...

Keep Reading

How Much Longer Will I Watch Them Play?

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Two boys at indoor playground, color photo

As I sit here watching my two boys running around on the bright-colored foam mats, sliding down the bright red and green slides that end up in a ball pit full of giggles, I can’t help but wonder how much longer I will enjoy this sight. They’re both growing up so fast—T-shirts with their favorite characters have been replaced by plain colors.  Curtains with Paw Patrol now invite an “Eww, cringe!” reaction. Slowly their boy bedroom decor has been updated to reflect the cool gamers they so want to be. RELATED: He’s a Boy For Just a Little While Longer No...

Keep Reading

We Have a Big Family and Wouldn’t Change a Thing

In: Kids, Motherhood
Four children in front of Christmas tree, color photo

I have just had my fourth baby. A baby who wasn’t expected but very much wanted and very much loved from the moment we found out. When we told people we were expecting, the response was underwhelming. The stream of intrusive questions would then ensue:  You already have your hands full, how will you cope with four? You’ll need a bigger car! Where will they all sleep? Don’t you own a TV? You know how babies are made right? People seemed to have such a strong opinion about me having a fourth child. RELATED: We Had a Lot of Kids...

Keep Reading

God Gave Him Bigger Feelings

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy on playground, color photo

He came home from school last week and asked, “Why do I get so angry but my friends never do? Why am I not the same?” And it broke me. Because he is passionate and intelligent and kind and intuitive and beautiful. He didn’t always seem different. We never paid attention to how he would line everything up in play. And we would laugh it off as a quirk when he would organize everything dependent upon shape, size, and color. He was stubborn, sure, but so am I. And then COVID happened, and we attributed the lack of social skills...

Keep Reading

As a Mom I’m Far From Perfect, But I Hope You Remember the Joy

In: Kids, Motherhood
Happy mother and daughter on the beach

Sometimes, I think about the future when you are grown and I am gone. When all that’s left of me are photographs and memories. I know what the photographs will show. I took most of them, after all. But the memories I’m less sure of. I wonder what will stick with you after all that time. How will you remember me? One day, your grandkids will ask you about me. What will you say? Will you tell them I was always distracted? Will you remember that I looked at my phone too much? Will you tell them I didn’t play...

Keep Reading

Being a Daycare Mom Can Be So Hard

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Woman holding boy on couch, black-and-white photo

Dear daycare mom,  I know it’s hard.  To get yourself up before them, to make lunches, to pack the bags, to get yourself ready.  To go into their rooms, where they are peacefully sleeping, and turn the lights on.  To struggle to get them breakfast, get them dressed, and get them out the door.  I know it’s hard.  To have a morning rush when all you want to do is snuggle up on the couch and ease into your day.  RELATED: When a Mom is Late To Work To feel like you are missing out on their childhood at times...

Keep Reading

The PB&J that Saved the Day

In: Kids, Motherhood
Table with three plates of PB&J sandwiches, color photo

It was one of those days.  One of those days when your pants are too tight, you wake up with a headache, and the kids’ rooms are disasters at 8 a.m. It was one of those days when I had to physically go into Target for our groceries since I didn’t have time to wait for pickup—I think that alone should sum up exactly the kind of day it was.  The kids were hangry. The toddler was, well, toddler-y. RELATED: Toddlers Are Human Too—And Sometimes They Just Need Grace Two minutes into our shopping trip, she had kicked her light-up rain...

Keep Reading

One Day He’ll Love Another Woman More than He Loves Me

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding baby, color photo

To Benjamin, my 16-month-old son, I am everything. I am the first person that boy looks for when he wakes up in the morning and the last person he wants before he goes to bed. If he is in a room full of people he loves and I am not there, he will search for me.  If he has a problem, mommy is the solution. I am the answer to his cries. I feel confident in saying that I am the most important person in that little boy’s little world. I love it. It is an honor and a privilege...

Keep Reading

To My Sister, Thank You For Being the Best Aunt To My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood
Aunt with three young kids

“Do you have the kids’ basketball schedule yet?” you texted the other day. I sent back a screenshot of the calendar, and within an hour you responded telling me which game you’d be coming to. It was a simple exchange, but I was overwhelmed with gratitude for your love for my kids in that moment. It’s something I think often but don’t say nearly enough: thank you for being such an amazing aunt. Truly.  I know it’s not always convenient. You live three hours away and have a busy, full life of your own—but still, you show up for your niece and nephews...

Keep Reading

In Defense of the Stubborn Child

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy hanging over dock, color photo

“Lamp. Lamp. Laaaaamp,” my 2-year-old son screamed while stomping his feet. Tears were running down his face and snot was dripping dangerously close to his mouth. I put on what I hoped would be a soothing, motherly tone, “Okay, just calm down.” While trying to maintain eye contact, I slowly reached toward the tissue box. This must be what the greats like Jeff Corwin, Steve Irwin, or the Kratt brothers feel like when facing a volatile animal in the wild. The sound of a tissue being pulled from the box caused the crying to stop abruptly. His eyes flitted toward...

Keep Reading