This year marks my 12th year of motherhood. And like everyone says, “time flies in the blink of an eye.”
My baby. I remember that moment of awe when two faint lines changed my life forever. In that instant I wasn’t thinking about mounds of laundry, late-night homework battles, choosing the right school, or ER visits that were to come. I was blissfully unaware of the challenges ahead, but oh, how my deepest heart’s desire had become a reality. Looking back I think, “Girl, get ready. You are in for quite the journey.”
It’s incredible when you hold your child in your arms for the first time. “Congratulations, Mom!” Mom. The name felt warm and smooth like I had been waiting my entire life to be called by that name.
But a few nights in and I needed a breather. I needed to get away. I had been awake for what felt like days, nursing every other hour or maybe two? Who knows? I lost track of time. The weeks and months ahead were a blur as I adjusted to my new role as a mother.
Everything about me changed: my body shape, emotional state, skin, hair, routine, marriage, friendships, job description – heck, even my name changed! I bounced back and forth between elation and exhaustion, immense joy and uncontrollable tears. How does this work, this parenting thing? Am I doing it right? Will my baby ever sleep? Will I ever sleep? Will I ever be “me” again?
Then one day, several months into that sleepless stage, I heard first the utterances of my new name:
Sure, the baby may be learning new sounds every day, but I beamed when he learned the sound, “ma.” He strung it together like it was the most amazing noise to make in the world. I had been waiting to hear it – coaching him, even.
Soon after, the sound became simple. Mama. That’s me! That’s my name! His eyes would meet mine as he said it. By this point, I had begun to catch up on sleep and had started to embrace this beautiful role. I felt more confident in our routine and we found our new norm.
However, these days were oh so long and lonely as I ached for deep relationships. These were the times when naptimes and schedules were sacred and a baby on the move kept me from sitting for too long to have an adult conversation. Then again, could I even carry on a conversation that didn’t center around the latest diaper explosion story or the super cute thing he did last night?
“Look what I can do!” He wanted all of me. He needed all of me because I was his world. New tricks, new milestones, new adventures, and a new attitude!
We had finally ventured into play dates and meeting new mom friends. This stage was also accompanied by meltdowns and timeouts. Toddlers are funny and loveable, but I learned they can also be tiny dictators. Throw potty training and a new baby in the mix, and I’m amazed I made it out with only a few new gray hairs!
Somewhere along the years of messy mom buns and sweat pants, a transition slipped by unnoticed. Mom. I am no longer Mama or Mommy. A big kid is now calling my name.
There are new adventures: school, sports, camps, and sleepovers – all things where Mom is not invited. The older they get, the time we get to spend with them is less and less. I long for the sleepless nights and the days I spent cutting up hot dogs and grapes. I yearn to spend more time crawling around on the floor with cars and blocks. What I wouldn’t give to nurse one more baby back to sleep.
There still comes a time – very rare, but it’s there. A sick day, a nightmare, a hurt knee and I hear them calling for me like they did all those years ago. “Mama?” That warm sound melts my heart all over again. “It’s ok, baby. Mommy’s right here.”