It happened the other day. A day that started out like any other day. Alarms go off. Breakfast is made. And I begin my morning routine of getting ready for work.
Midway through my mascara application, I realized something was off. Way, way off. Looking around I searched for clues as to what was nagging at my subconscious.
Then it hit me. There were no little ladies pulling on my legs trying to stand, attempting to apply eyeliner while I was distracted. All my attention was on making sure I didn’t smudge my mascara (which, of course I still did) – I didn’t have to turn on my mom super power where I can apply makeup, listen to the news headlines, run through the day with my husband all while keeping an eye out for a baby who decides to scale a book shelf or pull a hot curling iron on themselves.
Certain that I had merely just spaced out for too long and now my kids where running in traffic somewhere in only their underwear, I darted into the kitchen where I last left them idly munching on their bagels and cream cheese while helping each other fill their water cups and giggling at their morning cartoons.
Everyone was safe. Everyone was taken care of. Everyone was being self sufficient. Everything was relatively quiet.
I then experienced one of those almost out of body mom experiences. One where you can almost hear the door of one stage closing and the screech of gears as you are catapulted into the next stage of motherhood. Sometimes very begrudgingly.
We entered a new era that day in our household. A stage I knew we were headed for, slowly at first as we evolved from bottles to sip cups to glasses with no lids – then from diapers to pull-ups to underwear. We began babbling then first words then sentences – now to full conversations about our thoughts, feelings and opinions. From needing help putting on our shoes, to being able to dress ourselves.
We were officially out of the baby and toddler stage. I was now a mom to two little kids.
To be honest, we had probably been coasting along peacefully in this stage for some time now, but just like when it’s been to long since my last hair appointment and those weird “white hairs” begin creeping in along my hairline – I denied it. I denied the evolution from babies to kids like it was my job.
So once I finally opened my eyes to my new reality, you can imagine I handled it as well as someone who woke up to find themselves surrounded by endless sand and sun on a deserted island with only a volleyball with a face painted on it to keep them company.
It was in this moment I remembered a time when my oldest was still in diapers and my youngest barely twelve weeks old. I was trying to nurse for what seemed like the 20th time in four hours, and my oldest was not interested in playing second fiddle to the tiny human who was always sitting in her mama’s lap. No book, no movie, no toy would suffice in distracting her for the few minutes I needed to get my youngest settled in nursing. So like any two-year-old, she decided to try and sit on her sister in total Darwinian fashion – use your survival of the fittest to take out the competition.
In between a screaming infant, a toddler tantrum and a mommy meltdown I distinctly remember thinking, “this too shall pass, but goodness I cannot wait until they are older and more independent.”
You know that cliche that also serves as a warning “be careful what you wish for…?” Truer words were never spoken.
So back to where I stand in my kitchen, looking at my kids, with hair half done and my freshly applied mascara now in a messy trail of tears down my cheeks, as I saw my wish manifested. And like any mature mother, I couldn’t help but whine, “where did my babies go?”
Not realizing I said this out loud my girls turned around and my oldest replied, “we’re right here mom.”
And in the wisdom that can only be found in the innocence of youth, I realized she was right.
Yes, they were becoming more independent – forming their own minds and blossoming into the little women they will become. They no longer look for me when needing to dress themselves or reach for a glass of water, but now ask bigger questions about the world and feelings and problems.
They still needed me – just like I still need my mom – but merely in a different way. So while it felt comfortable to wallow in my own mom-pity party where I reminisced on baby smells, chubby legs and gummy grins, I knew I needed to evolve with them and be the mom they needed now.
A mom of two school-age ladies who needed my guidance on math problems, science projects and English essays. A mom who can give them advice on how to stand up to bullying and have compassion for them as well. A mom who can guide them between right and wrong and cross her fingers that they make the right choice when I’m not around.
So instead of wallowing, I am celebrating that we’ve all made it this far relatively in one piece, happy and healthy. That we can enter a new stage together and learn from the inevitable mistakes that we will all make. It’s a bittersweet celebration for sure, as it is impossible to put into words how fast this ride goes.
However, I will smile quietly to myself and remember my little babies when they ask me to snuggle on the couch. And just like when they were tiny – I will feel their little heartbeats in rhythm with mine.
Because let’s be honest, they will always be my little babies.