Dear Mama... (part 1)
We're excited to share this guest post by Lanie Timko
I know you are tired of those older moms and grandmas, when they see you worn out and weary after endless days with those babies and toddlers, telling you to enjoy them because it goes so fast. I know you probably get pretty irritated and annoyed and are already beyond your limit when they share this truth with you.
Guess what? I’m getting closer to being one of those older moms and now I’m starting to understand.
Those women said it to me because when they saw me with my babies and littles, and they saw my fatigue mixed with desperation, they saw themselves. And they felt their yesterdays, that may have been decades ago, like a present reality of love bursting inside their hearts. They feel the sting of moments they can’t get back.
I know because that's what happening inside of me when I see you with your littles. Your being in front of them in line at the grocery store, trying to settle a toddler who insists on wriggling out of the cart’s safety belt for the thousandth time, sends them back in time and so their hearts start yearning for a time they didn’t know to value, appreciate, and embrace. They couldn’t see the big picture because they were caught up in the intensity of endless cycles of laundry and feedings, schedules and exhaustion, and an existence that was no longer about them.
And so Mama, they want to help you avoid making that same mistake.
They want you to be present- for you to give yourself that gift so you can make the most of time because even though the days are long, they know the time is short. And they know the sting of regret over wishing away a time in their lives that, when looking back, made up the greatest and most tangible expressions of love they had ever experienced. Nobody hugs more than a three-year-old boy in love with his mom. Nobody cares about where you are all of the time like an eighteen-month- old little girl. Nobody creates more beautiful paintings “just for you” than your preschoolers.
These moms know in reality something you only know in theory: You will never pass this way again.
Sure, you can read parenting books and find all of the research data and TedTalks that explain your irreplaceable role in the life of your child. You can learn of the cognitive, social, and emotional advantages your child will glean from your giving motherhood the best you have to give it. You can study the benefits of strong attachments and emotional attunement and for sure become a better mom by knowing the research that supports the intuitions you sense. And actually, that’s what I was asked to do here in this blog post- share the compelling science and research that supports motherhood and makes it meaningful. But there’s one entity, a better one
for that matter, that can inform how you mother, and the kind of mother you want to be: TIME.
When I think of time and children, I hear often hear poet Andrew Marvell's words, "Had we but world enough and time . . .; (His point is that we don't.) Later in the same poem he writes, “But at my back I always hear Time’s winged chariot hurrying near . . .” So do I. Now that my oldest is approaching adulthood and my youngest is approaching school age, I hear that chariot loud and clear. Sadly, I couldn't hear it so well when the kids were little.
The window of motherhood- in all of its ages and stages, twists and turns, and beginnings and endings, closes. Every stage comes to completion. There will be a last time for having the little one feed at your breast. A last diaper change. A last buckle in the car seat. There will be the last time you ever dress your little girl, tie her shoes, and lie down with her as she drifts off to sleep. It all comes to an end. And when those endings actually occur, you probably won’t even notice. They sneak up on you, happening naturally and without much fanfare.
So I think what those well-meaning and experienced moms are trying to articulate, albeit an annoyance and redundant is this:
This parenting thing has an expiration date- it’s a time sensitive endeavor that can’t be redone. Give yourself the gift of making the most of time. Be there. See your kids. Hug your kids. Play with them. Sing to them. Get on the floor. Have a pillow fight. Throw a tea party. Read as many books as you can. Find worms. Take walks. Go slow. Love hard. Be soft. Other life endeavors will be there when the kids are older and when they no longer need so much of you. Opportunities that seem once in a life time, aren’t always worth the cost if they steal from the once in a life time opportunity to be the kind of mom you want to be. Be brave, fight culture, and let love and time coincide.
Thanks for Your Time,
-Mom of 5 (Ages 16, 14, 10, 7, & 3), NCC