Did your heart break a little when you read my latest post about the week I’d just had?
I picture you sitting there, phone in your hand, showing the screen to Dad. Worry in your eyes as you say, “Oh no. The baby is sick and I think she’s stressed. Read this.” In fact, I know that’s what you did because Dad doesn’t get online by himself often, yet there was his name “liking” that post. Checking on his girl who lives 1000 miles away.
When you sat on your couch, discussing if it was “too soon” to call, did you picture me as the woman I am? Thirty-one years old, with a job of 8 years, a mortgage, and three kids of my own? Or when you read my words illustrating the stress and challenges of the week, was it the chubby-cheeked five-year-old who asked you to hold her pine cone that day in the woods many years ago? Maybe it was her. Maybe you read the words of your thirty-one-year-old daughter, but heard the voice of your baby. They are one in the same to you, aren’t they, Mama?
Now that I have 3 babies of my own, I’m starting to understand. Understand that the passage of time holds no authority when it comes to Mamas and their babies.
When my husband dances with the girls at night before bed, I can’t help but picture them as the gorgeous women I know they will be, in flowy white gowns, dancing with their Daddy at their wedding, or walking proudly across the stage to receive their degree, graduation gown billowing, looking for their Daddy in the audience. Simultaneously, I notice how long my six-year old’s legs seem to be and remember the look on her daddy’s face when he held her for the very first time as a tiny bundle. So, I just bet, when I danced with Dad ten years ago on my wedding day, James Taylor’s voice transported you and your misty eyes. Transported you right back to the nights where James sang and Dad twirled his girl around in his arms, her feet dangling high above the living room floor.
It’s weird right, Mama? I didn’t get it before. But now that I hold my eleven month-old son in my arms, tracing his soft cheeks with my finger, I feel panicked that somehow the insane newborn days are already gone. All I did was blink, Mama. I promise, that’s all I did. But in between the open and close of my eyelids, I’m already seeing the tall, strong teen he’s going to be. I’m already watching him dominate on the basketball court in high school, feeling him wrap me in his strong man arms as I drop him off for college. Is this how it was for you too, Mama? Is this how it is now? Do you hold the juxtaposing realities in your mind and heart when you think of me – your baby girl all grown up, but also, that can’t be right because she was just an infant swaddled in your arms?
I think I know the answer.
I guess that’s motherhood, isn’t it, Mama. Seeing the past, present, and future threads of our babies all tangled up, no matter what stage they are in. And we try to be the time keepers. Oh, yes we do. Keeping moments and memories in our hearts and our minds. Keeping hopes and prayers on our lips. Keeping joy and grief in our hands as we bear witness to the daily transformations taking place across years. But try as we might, time keeps slipping and sliding, leaving us with those threads bunched in our fists.
So, Mama, I know. I know that as I tell you animatedly about how fast my littles are growing and changing before my eyes- you look at me. You look at me, your adult daughter, and see my eyes crinkle and lips turn up in that same smile you studied for years. You see a glimpse of the little girl you used to write lunch notes to and tuck in at night.
As I tell you about my babies holding my heart forever and ever- you see your baby holding your own heart. You see me wrapped in a tapestry of love you’ve woven together with those collected threads, covering all years – past, present, and future.
That’s what I’m starting to understand, Mama.
Where time holds no authority when it comes to a Mama and her babies, love does. Because love?
A mama’s love transcends all time.
Thank you, Mama, for showing me how to love forever and for always.