I think it was the day before Mother’s Day. A friend posted on Instagram something her mom had shared with her: “She says she sometimes has dreams that we’re babies in her house again and that when she wakes up and realizes it’s not true and we’re all grown up, she can’t breathe for a second.”
And those words completely gripped me. In truth, they still do. That night, during the wee hours of Mother’s Day, I was seized by this awful sadness. Before I knew it, I was sobbing completely. All I could think about was a future with all my babies grown and gone. Jonny and I talked through it, talked about all that we can’t remember, all the ways we have failed to document our babies. Somehow that was comforting, a reminder that this is just the way it goes. You can’t hold on forever. And eventually we fell asleep. I woke to a lovely Mother’s Day, one that had me very much in the moment, just thankful to be a mom, craving the presence of my kids, wanting my little ones crawling all over me like puppies rather than wishing they would stop. And of course when the sun is shining it becomes easier to think rationally, to remember that of course I want my children to grow up, to reach adulthood. The alternative would be the truest grief. You can’t have both. They can’t stay babies. The answer always seems to lie in letting go of fear and worry, and allowing myself to dwell as fully in the present as possible. There is no sense sobbing over children who have grown and gone when I still have a houseful.
This week I am weaning my baby. That is bittersweet for me, despite the fact that my body has been telling me for some time that it needs a break. I’ve been nursing and/or pregnant for over seven years straight. And the seven years before that were pretty full in that regard as well. I know that I need to do this, but that doesn’t make it easy. I know Job will be fine. I know I will be fine. I’m just so darn sentimental. I also have a tendency to see the tragedy in everything right there alongside the beauty. And, I tend to overthink. I really have a problem with that. So I’m fighting those thoughts, the “He’s probably my last baby…” thoughts. Those really make me cry. They make me feel like I’m already leaving the best years of my life (because doesn’t everyone tell you that these years, the ones with small children are the best?) and I feel like I’ve only just gotten here.
My friend Ann, though, is always saying, “The best is always yet to come.” Deep down I know that is true. I just love right now so much. As much as I feel stretched too thin, overwhelmed, and just plain worn out sometimes, I really love my life and my children, just as they are right now. Never change. That would be my choice. But change always comes, and we survive it (oftentimes realizing that it isn’t so bad after all) and continue to see the good and feel the grace. I remind myself that I love each of my children right here where they are now, just as I did yesterday, and will tomorrow. I love them outside of age.
For Mother’s Day I asked for fencing and gates. Agnes and Greta are now living in their new enclosure and new barn. The barn still needs a bit of work, and we still need lots of fencing, but Jonny is making progress. I also ordered myself some yarn, not because I needed it, simply because I wanted to. These gifts are good and I am thankful for them, but most of all I am thankful for the gift of my children, and the wise words of other women who remind me of the gift of right now, the gift of today.