You walk through the desolate isles of Walgreens with a crying baby, trying to pick up diapers at the last minute because you have been playing a risky game of poop-roulet all day, only having one spare diaper while you’re running errands. The Celine Dion soundtrack plays overhead, muffling the whimpering of your infant. You compare the price of the Walgreens brand and Huggies, debating on if it can hold the new foods you just introduced. (and PS when it’s your second or third or fourth kid, you will probably choose the Walgreens brand, every time…guaranteed.) Out of nowhere, a fragile older woman with wide eyes creeps up on you, craning her neck across the aisle she whispers, “Enjoy every minute, it goes by too fast.” You smile and nod, trying not to let the sound of your tightly clenched jaw and grinding teeth seep out. Little does this well rested woman know, that in fact you haven’t slept in months, you have no idea how far your body oder is traveling and your hair is just one giant matt swooped up into a messy bun. You would probably give your right eye for a relaxing pedicure, especially the one with the hot towel wraps. Also, coffee seems to be running through your veins because the tooth picks that were holding your eyes open, they started to hurt.
Then you have two… one little guy in the back of the cart with a preemptively opened sack of gold-fish up to his armpit, reaching for fistfuls of salty goodness, and another one cutting her first tooth on the H1N1 covered handle bar in her mouth. Sleep; it’s still a myth, somewhere long ago in your pre-motherhood memory, that has been sealed off and thrown into the ocean of oblivion, sinking like a lost treasure, only to be unearthed in some far off fantasy with talking birds and peg legged pirates. Your hair, it’s falling out now and thinning, and your roots… well, if you had 4 hours to sit in a salon chair, you’d choose a nap every time. Your zombie like body walks through the isles of Target, because this is where mothers with little ones come to find oxygen, and all of a sudden, a middle-aged woman looks at you and smiles. You try to smile back, but your toddler is crying for the Daniel Tiger stuffed animal you just passed. After you grab your 10 items, you DIDN’T come for, while forgetting the one item you needed, you head to the front of the store. Oh, looky there, the jolly-ole-middle-agey-lady is behind you. She starts in about her three kids and how one just graduated high school and you smile and nod, taking the candy bars from your two year old that he has swiped from the counter. She ends with this, “It goes by so fast, enjoy every minute.” You know you should believe them, but you just can’t, the present is too full of chaos to think of the future.
Fast forward and now you have three. Your mind has exploded and any memory of your old life has vanished into a puff of pink smoke. You had to buy a minivan, because you cannot fit three car seats in your sedan and you’ve lost all sense of social dignity… And congratulations, you are now an official card toting member of the crazy club; you are out numbered. The only time you take all three kids to the store is in a moment of sheer desperation, and STILL, “they” stop you and whisper and grin at you… reminding you of how PRECIOUS these years are. The refining fire is blazing, and since your oldest is learning to read and ties his shoes, you can see a glimpse of the magic they are speaking of.
And then we come to today… After all of those shopping trips, toting car seats, buckling crusty buggy clips, you walk your three “under-ware-wearing” children into Target with free arms. Glancing for a hot minute into the window, you see three KIDS walking behind you like grown up ducklings, proud and puffed up. In the matter of a split second you realize that you made it, you survived the LITTLE YEARS and you are now a KID MOM!!!!! A smile breeches your lips, and then quickly turns upside down as you think of all those hard days, the ones you thought you wouldn’t survive. You realize that those days, each one of them, though they might have sucked away a few brain cells, they carried you to today, and the time did indeed FLY BY, just like all those passerbys told you it would.
Michelangelo (the artist, not the Ninja Turtle) said, “I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set him free”.
The same is true with motherhood. The Lord looks within and sees greater things. He sees within us the masterpiece He desires to display. Those hard days, those minutes we think we might lose our mind, those tears we cry when we think we aren’t enough for our children… they are the moments when the chisel and hammer are in hand. After each tap, there is a soft breath and gentle palm, smoothing away the dust, as time goes on the masterpiece begins to come forth and reveal herself.
For me, the little years of parenting were the days the giant chunks crashed down; the ones that hurt the most, and at the same time, the ones that made the most impact on the final product desired. I couldn’t see past the pain at the time. Each blow, feeling worse than the one before, but freeing me bit-by-bit to see who I was becoming.
The Artist is still at work on me today.
I have crossed the great divide, I have turned the page to a new chapter in motherhood; titled THE KID MOM. The “kid mom chapter”, is filled with carpool and soccer practice and the “H” word (homework), and now the little years are nothing but euphoric recall and uterus pangs. My eyes pop out of their sockets as the scent of new baby wafts itself around the isles of the grocery store. And, as I turn the corner and see the precious little baby snuggled up in the moby wrap, I use every ounce of self-control not to rub its little nestled head laying on the stranger standing across from me. I flash a great big cheesy smile at the new mom and with a glint in my eye, I tell her to “Enjoy every minute, it goes by too fast.” (and then she looks at me like I am cray.)
Keep on Mothers. It’s a journey, a process, a trip… those hard days, they are making you beautiful, they are shaping you, and forming you into a better version of yourself. I promise.