Sometimes, I think I am doing OK as a mom.
I might have made some mistakes here and there. I might have wished for bedtime to come sooner than I should have, but overall, I’ve done my best. I’ve kissed boo-boos, sang bedtime songs, braided hair, baked cookies, and rocked babies.
Most days, I look back and think to myself, Job well done. You’ve made it through. You should be proud, really.
But then, I’ll be walking to my kitchen and see that picture I’ve passed hundreds of times. This time I stopped and stared at it, realizing it was taken three years ago. Those babies, those children, those people … they no longer exist. They have been replaced by children who, each and every day, are pulling away from me. They are creating lives that I have no part of. Heck, those children don’t even remember what their lives were like when that picture was taken.
My oldest only sees the attention the “baby” of the family gets, not knowing that I held her continually for over a year. She doesn’t know that she skipped crawling entirely and went straight to walking because I couldn’t bear to put her down. My middle child doesn’t remember the months we spent lapping around the house, trying to calm the colic that plagued her belly. The life captured in that photo is gone forever, even though it feels like it happened yesterday.
The pain of this realization is hard to process. It’s hard to breathe. It’s hard to reconcile the fact that the life in that picture is gone, and the life I’m living now is disappearing even as I live it.
Sometimes I wonder why more people don’t talk about this particular pain of motherhood. It’s different than the other aches and pains, like that first labor contraction when you realize, Holy crap, there’s no turning back now! Or even the pain of pushing a person from your body.
This is a different kind of pain that can’t exactly be named. And it’s one that hits you out of nowhere. It’s the pain of time passing so fast as you try desperately to hang on. It’s the pain of always wondering if you’ve done enough with the time that is already gone.
I didn’t expect this pain would hit me all at once as I walked through the hall to grab another load of laundry. I didn’t expect for my eyes to fall on that unassuming picture on the wall. Or that the pain would be swift, with my heart twisting with visions of chubby cheeks, innocent smiles, and the bowed legs of a toddler that I thought I’d remember forever, but have already forgotten.
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