The changing of the guard.

This current stage of parenting seems less fragile. We’ve made a silent step over a menacing crevasse. It wasn’t that we weren’t paying attention. We were. It was blinding, fanatical attention. Every detail in our face like cartoon violence. It was too absurd to ignore. There were years of perpetual pregnancy and sleep deprivation. There were stories that we only felt comfortable telling in the confines of our dark room. Our confessions would come pouring out in guilty, hushed complaints to each other . We were the luckiest of the lucky with four perfectly healthy children, small and beautiful, driving us to the farthest reaches of our abilities and sanity. It was wonderful and tragic. It was beautiful and horrific. We were grateful and ingrates. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

All of the ill-at-ease and fumbling have turned into softer days. The throngs of little people have started to pair off. Two big and two little. Two big and two little. We are over the hump.

I say this not with melancholy, but, with wonder. I did not enjoy every precious moment. Let me be clear, they were not all precious. I can say this definitively. It is no longer my theory that every moment need not be graciously celebrated. You will know the moments that demand celebration. They refuse to be ignored. The other moments are war paint or prison tattoos on your neck. They are about grit and the only beauty to be found in those moments is the deep well of your inner strength. They are not lovely and don’t tell me I will miss them. I do not. I can say this because they are gone.

I miss my high-school metabolism. I miss wearing a size 7 shoe. I miss the expensive, delicious breve latte I would drink on my way to work in my corporate days. I will not miss carrying a screaming newborn in the throes of colic. I will not miss waking up in a pool of my own breast milk. I will not miss projectile vomit or the paralyzing fear I felt as a brand new mother. I remember these things. I am grateful for my stripes, but, I will not miss them. Goodbye.

I will miss the better-than-anything smell of my babies’ newborn heads. I will miss the first 24 hours in the hospital when you stare and they stare and you are struck silent in absolute awe of one another. I will miss the smallness of their bodies in my arms and lap. I will not miss my feelings of inadequacy. I will not miss my jealousy watching the ease of seasoned mothers. I will not miss the lack of sex and the overwhelming fear of my new maternal body. I remember these things. I am grateful, but, I’m ready to turn the page.

Two days a week, I have one child at home. My season of herding sheep has come to a close. I know I should say that I’m heartsick. I know I should tell you to cherish the season. I know I should be full of immaculate 20/20 hindsight, but, I’m happy. I’m celebrating this new moment.

Besides, who am I to tell you what should make your list of misses and not to be missed?

Enjoy your moments, whatever they be, break a champagne bottle against the stern of the rest as they make their voyage out to sea and, join me as I take a deep breath and embrace the words of poet Robert Browning, “The best is yet to be.”





Comments

  1. Thank you and YES! I do not enjoy every moment and can’t stand when people say it goes by so fast blah blah blah…some moments don’t go fast enough! I now have one in kindergarten every morning and another in preschool two mornings a week. 4 blissful hours to myself!!!!! It’s amazing what an attitude adjustment it is!

    So write on Sister…I couldn’t agree with you more.

  2. Good Lord. How do you DO that? The imagery in this post is perfection.

    My season of herding sheep has also come to a close – both of my children are in school all day. We have entered a new stage where my day really picks up (as does my car odometer) around 3 pm. Lessons and practices and ball games make dinner and homework and bedtime routines a literal juggling act. I may not be nursing a baby at 3 o’clock in the morning, but I’m exhausted nonetheless.

  3. Julie Emery says:

    Two big and two little. Too big and too little. This piece hits me (smack in the face) in such a profound way. I love it. I love you for writing it my sweet sister of the heart.

  4. This is lovely. There are times, moments I already miss, but you’re right. There are others I gladly say sayonara to. I used to think baby years with twins was hard, but Hubby and I talk all the time about how much harder it will actually get. Instead of physical exhaustion, it becomes emotional exhaustion.

  5. Thank you!!! I get so frustrated when well-meaning people tell me to “cherish every moment because it goes by too fast”…well, yes, it does go fast but some of it was like walking on hot coals in hell and I’m glad to leave those moments far behind me!

  6. I couldn’t possibly love this more.

  7. Oh I love this so much, you are such an amazing writer. I feel so much like you do, there are a million things I will miss but so many I won’t. This post has me picturing you carrying a torch as you walk your children to school each day.

  8. You do a really kick ass job of appreciating each season of life. I’m either looking ahead or back; I need the “Bethany School of Thought,” so let me know what the tuition will run me, k?

  9. You may not believe this, but this post is an answer to prayer for me. My husband and I have been going through a suck-tastic phase and feeling very discouraged. The realness in this post and in you, sweet smart Bethany, is giving me hope!

  10. I think this is probably THE BEST blog post I have ever read about being a mother. Well said. You are amazing and adore reading your posts.

  11. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I have only one little one left at home on week days, and that only two days a week. I’m relishing the free time to work and write, grocery shop and menu plan.

    But I am missing the days that have passed. I’m exactly like you in that I do not wish to revisit potty training, colic, tantrums, and the stuff of the early years that is just shitty, without a redeemable quality except when they eventually come to an end. Instead I’m missing all that stuff I did enjoy the first time around, the things you’ve mentioned here. And I’ve been wondering why grown parents, the grandparently types that tend to tell us to “enjoy it while it lasts,” don’t say what they really mean. I think they mean to say, “When this passes and you can tease out the potty accidents and the up-all-night-teething marathons, you’ll have a great, bittersweet joy in remembering the soaring moments in between. So, instead of enjoying this while it lasts, know that when it’s over, despite the fact that such an idyllic thing seems unlikely now, in the midst of these trials, you’ll have joy. When they grow, you’ll leave off the memories of the sleeplessness and battles over broken cookies and the stuff that remains will take root and bloom. Sometimes it will make you smile; other times it will make you pine. But what remains will be lovely and it will be yours because you’ve earned it.”

  12. I’m in love with this. this. yes! thank you.

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