I woke up early this morning to get a run in before the summer heat built up enough to change my mind. While writing a note to my kiddos to tell them where I’d be for the next hour, I remembered my oldest would be picked up by his father soon and I won’t see him for a few days. He stays with his dad more than he does with me in the summer and helps him with his plumbing business.
I was in a rush to get my workout over with so I could tackle work, and tapped on his door before entering. He was lying in his messy bed, surrounded by dirty dishes and wrappers and I kind of wanted to scream.
His eyes were open. He was looking out his window and I walked over to him telling him I wanted to say goodbye before I left and to tell him to have a good few days working with his dad.
I leaned in to kiss him on the forehead, assuming he would mumble, or simply say “good-bye,” or perhaps, I’d get nothing at all.
As I pulled away, he grabbed me and gave me a bear hug. Suddenly, I wasn’t in a hurry to get out the door and pound the pavement. I didn’t see the mess cluttering his room that I had so carefully decorated to suit his taste years ago. If he had simply grunted in response to me wishing him well and telling him I’d miss him, I wouldn’t have cared.
This–this right here is all I need.
I inhaled him and for a moment, he’s a baby and I am lifting him out of his crib as he rubs his eyes before wrapping his sleepy arms around my neck.
I returned home to see little reminders of his presence: orange juice spilled on the counter, the dishwasher left open, his forgotten water bottle. I was so hungry I needed to get something into my system, but I heard some familiar feet clomping down the stairs and my youngest hit the floor and stood to stretch.
Suddenly, my hunger is gone because my focus is on him, I want to know what he looks like at this very moment, how he slept, and what he wants to do today.
There was a time when my mornings were mine. It didn’t matter if I was going to work or taking the day off. Aside from occasionally spilling my tea or sleeping through my alarm, there were no speed bumps in my routine.
And now…now I can’t imagine not having these children in my life to slow me down, and speed me up.
There was a time when my kids took every ounce of me: all my energy, all my focus, all my head space and I wanted nothing more than to have a break from them. Then, they hit the teen years and now I mourn the million daily questions and chores, and the days during which I felt like I had more of an imprint on their lives than I do now.
I had no idea other human beings could make me look back at my life–a life where I only had myself to worry about–and make me realize how empty it actually was.
I had no idea that there would be people surrounding me every day who could make my head spin as I sprinted out of the door to get away from them. Yet, they’d also be the very reason I’d come running back.
I didn’t know they would remind me to be a kick-ass version of myself by simply watching me.
I didn’t know you could feel a powerful anger towards someone only to have it evaporate in a second with one look, one smell, one touch.
I didn’t know what I didn’t know before I had kids.
There is no way to predict the journey our kids are going to take us on. We get dragged over sharp places, we rub up against the edge of our comfort zone, we gush with feelings of love and nostalgia. We want so much for this person it can make us nauseous and occupy our sleeping hours.
I am, in no way, the same person I was before I gave birth to my three children. Nor am I even close to being the same person I was when they were 2, or 7, or 10.
Parenting forces us to reshape ourselves. It hurls change at us and just when we settle in and get comfy and think, Okay, I got this now, our kids throw something else at us and we are forced to learn all over again how to do this thing.
Motherhood is a forever-changing journey. I had no idea being their mother would take me on a ride I would often want to jump off of but simultaneously, want to hand on to for dear life.
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