Little things make me smile. And sometimes (well, most of the time) I forget to write them down. Like how Lucy straightens her legs and points her toes (smooshing her totally chunky thighs together) when I lay her down to change her diaper or how Grace just has to do a little dance in front of the mirror (while singing some silly song to herself) in her towel after every bath before she can gear up to get her PJs on. And I want to remember this stuff. I want to cherish these moments while they last. The moments are the light that gets me through the trenches some days.
There is strength to be gained in soaking little moments in. Dropping everything and reading with your nine-year-old because you realize she’s more important than any other project you may be working on. Watching two of your children, who are usually at each other’s throats, on a day when they’re getting along. Watching the glow on your child’s face when his dad is praising him for mowing the lawn well. Letting yourself get caught up in the music your toddlers are dancing to in pure delight. I think it’s all part of the secret for enjoying and loving life as a mother of small children, a lasso-er of chaos…cherishing and soaking in those little moments.
There was a day shortly following Christmas last year I remember well. I finally got myself and my two at-home-during-the-day kids to the mall for some post-Christmas returns and exchanges. It wasn’t fun. The girls were doing all kinds of acrobatics on the stroller and poor Claire had hurt her knee on the trampoline the day before and kept whining that she couldn’t walk. So as I carried her through the mall in one arm while trying to contort my other arm enough to successfully maneuver my stroller laden with bags and a chunky baby, I noticed a mother with a new little baby–maybe a month old. He was fussy and she was trying to comfort him while maneuvering her stroller, too. Oh, I wanted to just ask her if I could hold him and snuggle him for a little bit. I wished I had my old Baby Bjorn to hand over to her. I could never go to the mall without it when I had babies that little. And then the thought of having my tiny snuggling babies right next to me while I did my daily tasks started eating at me. How they looked when they were sleeping, how they smelled, how they sighed in their sleep, and yes, even their sweet little newborn cries. Baby hunger crept in. “How could those days have passed so quickly??!” I asked myself in awe as I looked at my own crying “baby” and her whimpering sister side-kick.
And then a thought struck me. A few years from now I’ll be roaming the mall and all my kids will be in school. Yes, it will be nice. It’ll seem so free and strange in a good way. But, at that moment in the mall this week I realized that on that day in the future when I’m wandering the mall all fancy-free, there’s no doubt I’ll run into my double self from that post-Christmas shopping day. She’ll be wrestling with her toddlers with a frustrated look on her face, assuring them that they’re almost done with the errands of the day. And oh will I ever wish I could go back, at least for a little while, and slow life down while I snuggle those kids up and kiss their chubby cheeks off. I’ll try to envision them as their little selves climbing on me and whining and needy, and I’ll probably tear up a little just like I am right now because I’ll miss those little people. I know the bigger form of my little people will we wonderful. I can’t wait to “meet” them and grow with them. But on that day at the mall I realized, once again, how much I need to cherish each moment, right now, right here–snotty noses, whiny faces, dramatics and all that craziness in one great big package in a bow. Because when I blink they’ll be all grown up. And those moments that I cherished will still be there.
A few months ago my four-year-old daughter Claire declared that Lucy (our 20-month-old) is a “girl” now (as opposed to a “baby”). When I go watch Lucy sleep at night before I head to bed I’ve noticed that Claire’s right…that baby of mine is filling up her crib.
But what I have to say back to Claire is, “that sleeping ‘girl’ with her long eyelashes resting on her chubby cheeks, along with you, Grace, Elle and Max, will always be my ‘babies’ whether you like it or not.”
“And I’ll always be your ‘mama’.” Because I’m holding on to those baby memories and moments with all my might.
QUESTION: What do you do to help yourself really capture and enjoy the beautiful little moments of motherhood? What are some of your favorite moments lately?
CHALLENGE: If you have a favorite memory you haven’t taken the time to write down, do it today!