I was profoundly struck by Juliana Miner’s recent post entitled “The Sweet Spot” on her blog, Rants From Mommyland, which was published on The Huffington Post website: http://www.rantsfrommommyland.com/2013/07/the-sweet-spot.html . If you haven’t read it, you must, especially if you are a mom to children in the age 4-12 range. I credit her for honing in on this incredible place in motherhood. Having “graduated” from the era of nursing, naps, tantrums, and terrible two’s, I’m in an undeniably great place as a mother right now. We’re in that zone where we’re outgrowing booster seats, yet training bras are still off in the unforeseeable future. My once-toddlers are now forming into sensitive, (usually) caring children who, for the most part, still need me and view me as all things wise and wonderful. Everyone can get themselves dressed, pack up for school, and read books alone, yet the joys of Santa and The Tooth Fairy are still alive and well. I’m right there with Juliana Miner, in the thick of ‘The Sweet Spot”, savoring every moment.
That being said, I’ve been struggling ever since reading her post with how emotionally overwhelmed I felt by what she proclaimed, especially when she wrote, “Can I just stay here with them a little longer? Can you please keep them safe and beautiful and young just a little while longer?” Perhaps because I’ve always been terribly bad at goodbyes, or perhaps because motherhood just brings with it a perpetual sense of fragility, her words are too much for my heart to handle. I realize my potential to drown in the sea of minutes gone by, and the only way around that is to unequivocally declare that it’s ALL sweet.
Whenever I’ve had meaningful conversations with older mothers, more often than not I hear them say, “I enjoyed it all. ” “The Sweet Spot” post sent me searching, via social media for some temporary confirmation that this was indeed out there happening for older mothers I know. I was happy to see my cousin’s wife in a recent photo with her daughter, who will be a freshman in high school. Their arms were draped around one another, and both were beaming. I made a mental note that this was proof positive that despite all the warnings, there will be joy in my relationships with my (someday) teenage daughters. I found comfort in photos an old friend’s sister had posted of a recent family vacation on Lake Como in Italy. Her children are now in high school and college, and they were cruising around on a speedboat having a grand time. She had another photo of them all eating ice cream in Florida, their arms interlocked, as if they all very much still belonged together.
From the first time you hear them cry to the first steps they take, teetering across your kitchen floor, you are amazed at what they can do. There are the years of baths filled with plastic tug boats and old Barbie dolls with chopped-off hair that quickly turn into showers, and you come up one day to suddenly find the bathroom door has been closed tightly for privacy. Then there are the cartwheels that turn to car wheels through the town*, and you wait up lovingly to hear the engine turn off in the driveway. You greet them in the hush of the night, the din of the porch light ushering them inside. Perhaps they fill a bowl up with ice cream, and sit on a bar stool, their lanky body draped towards the counter, giving you a quick run-down of their evening. After a few minutes, you kiss their forehead, simultaneously whispering “I love you”, gather your book and reading glasses, and say goodnight. Then one day, they will walk across a stage and accept a diploma, (hopefully it’s done with a nice, solid handshake, like you tried to teach them for all those years), and venture off into the world. You hear the car drive away, and you listen for what’s left, until silence fills the air. If you’re lucky, this is the moment where you embrace your spouse tenderly, and share a bottle of incredibly fine wine together. As hard as it is that they are gone, they will be back in a few years on center stage, hopefully with a mate, and eventually children of their own. When that happens, the cycle begins anew, and when it does, you count every last blessing that you are there to ride along for the second round. You have no time to regret that it went so fast, only time to appreciate that you’ve been part of so much goodness.
It’s ALL sweet, every last bit of it. I can’t survive the emotional ride of motherhood believing anything less than that.
*a borrowed line from one of my favorite songs, THE CIRCLE GAME.