Mourning And Motherhood
As mothers, we wake up to the battlefield of life, ready to take on the day in the name of our children. We work to teach our kids new things, to inspire new waves of thought, and to encourage them to meet the next milestone. All of these actions driving towards an end state of independence, going off into the world, and being individuals who positively impact society.
And then they do, and we are often left in mourning.
It is that inevitable pull of your heartstrings when one chapter ends in your children's lives: when your newborn becomes a baby, when your baby takes their first step, when your toddler no longer needs you to reach the faucet for them, when your child no longer asks you to tuck them in, when your teenager drives a car for the first time, and when your grown-up children leave the house and take a piece of your heart with them (to name a few). It is the bittersweet ache of proud parenting that becomes so familiar we almost forget to acknowledge its existence.
Many milestones of growing up have already come and gone when it comes to my firstborn. They flew past me so quickly that I barely recognized that they came and went. From the obvious benchmarks like walking and her first day of preschool to those that I didn't even know I would mourn like dressing independently and playing with her friends. Of course, these are all highlights of childhood that I can proudly say she has accomplished but they are also blaring reminders of her reliance on me diminishing. With my second, I vowed to be more present and to let what is happening now be at the forefront of my thoughts. I have definitely accomplished this goal but that hasn't altered the fact that with every change I feel the pain of his independence hit me like ton of bricks. A contradiction that only motherhood can understand; a weight that lifts as he meets milestones and a heaviness that settles on my shoulders as those milestones are left behind to tackle the next obstacle in our way.
But the special thing about being a mom is that once you are a mother, the job never ends. It does, however, change and with change comes old ends and new beginnings. Motherhood evolves, and so does the ways in which your children need you, but that doesn't mean you are any less necessary. Instead of teaching them their alphabet, you may be talking about peer pressure and bullying. Instead of teaching your children their body parts, you may be teaching them about the birds and the bees. Instead of helping them forge new friendships, you may be guiding them through the crushing blow of their first heartbreak. Instead of helping them learn to walk with their hands in yours, you may be watching them walk down the aisle to their own new adventure. Whatever it may be, you are still their mom and you will still be needed. So to be in constant mourning makes no sense. Instead, look to the future memories with an open heart for there is always a new milestone on the horizon of motherhood.
Embrace the now. It is so very easy to get wrapped up in the goal-setting, that the magical little moments become distant memories before you know it. Children are beautiful reminders that life moves quickly, change happens without warning, and growth occurs regardless of our own agendas. You will always be needed so take solace in knowing that the passing of milestones is a testament to the job you are doing and that there will always be a next hurdle to overcome.