This is my letter for The Mother Letter Project originally created Monday November 24th 2008.
This letter comes at such a time when I could use a good reminding of what’s important.
It’s been one of those mornings. You know, one of those mornings where, no matter how badly you wanted to bite your lip and pretend your two-year-old wasn’t running a marathon on your dining room table, it was indeed happening and required the ‘mommy voice’ and you stopping breakfast for the ump-teenth time to get her down. One of those mornings where the sound of your four- and eight-year-old fighting was like nails on a chalkboard, causing you to grit your teeth and take deep breaths, trying not to explode. One of those mornings where the baby wouldn’t burp, the oldest wouldn’t come out of her hole a.k.a. her room to do her chores, and after sending five of my six children upstairs to get dressed and bring the laundry down they didn’t bring last night (like we ask them to do every night after their baths), so they could go outside and burn off some of that energy on their first of many days off for the Thanksgiving holiday, it began to rain. Pour even.
It was at that moment I sat down in a chair, ready to throw in the towel and cry in my coffee, that my eight-week-old, about get a boob in his mouth, decided to laugh for the first time. His first official time laughing, and oh how he continued on! I stopped anything and everything, met his eyes with mine and continued to get him to laugh at me, at my breast, and it was awesome. It was just what I needed, my youngest and last’s first laugh. That was the medicine I needed to make me right as rain again.
It’s amazing how moments like that happen. I often ask myself “Why?” when I’ve had a string of bad-happenings in a row, particularly all in one day, where you feel you can do nothing right. All it takes is for that brief moment of sunshine, that sparkle, that diamond to emerge – where your two-year-old says “I love you mommy” for the first time, or, as I mentioned, my newborn’s first laugh, or my eight-year-old scoring his first touchdown in flag football – it’s moments like those that eradicate all the bad ones.
The bad ones are going to be there because our children weren’t born with this innate sense for doing things right the first time every time. Heck, when has that ever been the case for us? It takes patience to handle it all, and c’mon, some days we’re fresh out, and it’s hard. I consider these days reality checks. This job ain’t easy. Take a human and mold it into a decent, upstanding citizen. From scratch. This isn’t baking a loaf of bread here. There are a gazillion moving parts you need to care for, encourage when they’re down, teach right from wrong, wipe when they’re drooling, medicate when they’re sick. It’s never ending! But they are pieces of us, pieces of you and pieces of your husband, mish-mashed together into this squirming chubby pink squeaking ball of love that you smell and delve into and can’t. stop. kissing. ever.
Then they grow, grow to smile, giggle, walk and talk, sputter out sentences and probably a few cuss words (accidentally, of course), learning to hit but learning to love and kiss and hold on tight. They grow to read and write and scribble beautiful masterpieces that adorn your fridge for the rest of your life. They will grow and get dirty and fall down and bleed and open up your heart and throw it around like a baseball a few times until you get their tears to stop and their pain to end by magically kissing it all better for them. They will grow to suddenly think those same kisses embarrass them in front of their friends, but they’ll still cuddle with you on the couch when a movie or show is on, and still climb into bed with you when their nightmare causes them 4am tears. They will grow and need you to take them to practices and be there for their performances, smiling and waving and taking a million pictures and probably embarrassing them, but it doesn’t matter to them because you are present. They will grow and need you to buy them feminine products, and give them advice for their first date, and ask you not to walk them in to meet their friends at the movie theatre, and need privacy on the phone with their friends. They will grow and graduate high school and leave the house, and there will be an obvious hole in the house at the dinner table where they once sat, and you will feel as though your missing a piece of yourself until they come home to borrow money, or to do laundry, or to visit, in which case you celebrate their visit like it’s Christmas. They will grow and ask for advice on their wedding gown choice, or ask you to go ring shopping to help them pick out the perfect one for their perfect one, and that day will come when you are the mother of the … and you will inevitably cry those sad, happy tears not wanting to realize that small baby who ooh-ed and coo-ed is about to start a family of their own. They will grow to call you to tell you that ‘it’s time’ and you rush to the hospital to be force fed a proud cigar from your child proclaiming “It’s a …” and you will hold your grandchild in your hands and realize this child is the spitting image of your child, and they are about to experience the ups and downs and sideways turns with a little colic, spit up and a side of sheer happiness in the almost-same pink squirming ball of newborn, just as you did.
And the circle will continue, all because of you, of everything you did to get them there.
And there will be moments, like the marathon race on the dining table, that your child will call and gripe to you about that will secretly make you smile, that you will look back upon and realize weren’t so horrible after all.
And don’t ever forget to remind them how much you love them daily, whether in your arms or off at college. They need those words.
Time goes by too quickly. Cherish it all, every single solitary stinky, burp-filled, grounded, first date, boo-boo kissed moment.
A Mother of Six
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