Sitting With Her

February 16, 2017

A few months ago I gave birth to my last baby. In predictable fashion, the time has gone remarkably fast. One minute he was emerging through a ring of fire, and now he’s growing out of small white onesies and requesting beer with dinner instead of breastmilk (just kidding, he prefers wine).

It is easy to panic about this passing of time, especially when everyone tells you to soak in every minute before it’s gone. It’s like if someone told you to really enjoy your ice cream cone now so that next week when you’re craving one, all you’ll have to do is remember today and you’ll be satisfied.

I wish that’s how it worked. I wish that three or five or seventeen years from now when I’m craving that newborn smell and the weight of a baby on my chest, all I’ll have to do is close my eyes to experience it again.

Instead I’ll only feel the familiar ache.

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A few months ago a friend was crying over her daughter’s loose tooth. “Something is wrong with me,” she said. “There is nothing sad about a loose tooth.”

No, we said shaking our heads. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

This past fall, I took my first baby to Kindergarten. He was ready, I was ready, but when the time came to leave him at the door–he clung to my arm and asked me not to go.

“Stay with me,” he said, tears in his eyes. “I don’t want you to leave.”

“You’re going to be so brave,” I said to both of us.

Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

Yesterday a friend wrote to me and said she was failing as a mother. It’s so overwhelming. I can’t be everything to everyone. I’m doing something wrong.

No, no, not at all. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

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For a long time I looked for some sort of cure for saying goodbye to this phase of life, hoping that when the time came, I’d be ready. Equipped with all the tools to manage and cope and not drive everyone crazy with my inability to let go. Mostly I hoped to simply feel ready to move on; happy to say goodbye to the stained highchair, tall stack of diapers, and bulky pack-and-play that never folds down quite right. Instead I am so relieved to learn the truth. That just because it is hard to say goodbye to these baby stages doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

I am and will be so many different kinds of mother in this life. A mother of babies, a mother of toddlers, a mother of pre-teens and teenagers and 30-year-old men. And when I look back at the mother I was to these small children and feel that familiar ache, I hope I sit with her. Let myself grieve what she lost in late night feedings and celebrate what she has become. Just as there is room for joy and gratitude and exhaustion in parenthood, there is also room for what comes with saying goodbye. And for me, that is a lot of sadness and emotions.

Please keep Austin in your thoughts.

The door is not closed, but it will close someday one way or another. And when I find my heart heavy, I know what to do. I will look to that mother, rocking her baby in that well worn chair, and I will sit with her.

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14 thoughts on “Sitting With Her

  1. Anonymous

    You so beautifully lay out all the words swirling within my heart. Motherhood is such a transformative and heartache-filled journey for mama and baby both, changing us so completely, and so quickly, it’s hard to catch our breath. You do the walk such justice with your posts! Thank you Kate.

    Reply
  2. Larkin

    You are such a beautiful writer, Kate. I haven’t yet experienced these feelings yet (no kids), but I am already grieving.

    Reply
  3. Robin RodgersRobin

    I don’t have children nor did I want any. That said, I enjoyed this. I am close with my niece who is now thirty, and have some understanding of your feelings. I agree that you are a good writer and you are enjoyed! Thank you.

    Reply
  4. Suzy

    Thanks for sharing the sadness Kate, makes my own sadness a little less heavy. I love the ice cream analogy. There’s a part of me that wishes for that third baby, but don’t think we can (will) pull it off. The older one started kindergarten and the younger is fast approaching, I’m trying to figure out how to keep a pulse on it all. Wishes you the best.

    Reply
  5. Jenn

    Beautiful. Mine are in 2nd grade and Kindergarten now and sadly, I feel that I’ve forgotten the mother I used to be already. But I do remember when we look back at photos and videos. Thank goodness for those.

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    1. Dawne Badrock

      From a gen x mom, pushing 50, with 3 kids 9, 11, 12. Thank God for pictures! I honestly don’t remember my 3rd baby’s first year. It bothers me but I lost my gram at 6 mos pregnant and that along with feeding him every two hours for an hour 24/7 for 6 or 8 weeks a long with singlehandedly trying to mother a two and three year old…oh and I gave away my lab a month pp because that was the deal I made to get a third baby! And then my precious 15 year old pooch took ill and had to be put down…it was a tremendously challenging first year. A lot of falling asleep at the coloring table! I wanted a fourth baby but had no more dogs to trade and was so incredibly sleep deprived my husband forced me to consider bottle feeding. I tried pumping but decided until they manufacture mobile breast pumps so you can do stuff while strapped to a portable pumper, who’s got time to sit and pump and then sit and feed??? In my vulnerable state of mind, I reluctantly resigned to bottle feeding and we all lived to see another day! I often think it was the three year old who suffered most that year. Did I talk to him? Play with him? Who knows! No recorder on duty. I do remember reading Lil Critter books to him at bedtime. I love those books. Thankfully, his natural born leader two year old sister stepped up during the day. Motherhood is full of one sad moment after another, but we’re brutes for punishment, currently I (grumpily) agree to lay with my tough12 yr old at bedtime and worry the day will soon come when he won’t ask anymore…tears. Love you Kate for keeping it real.

      Reply
  6. C

    Do you ever feel the pressure to savor every moment is kind of paralyzing? I have baby books, a line a day journal, instagram, pictures, chatbooks. I’m spending so much time savoring, always in a panic that ” the best” is slipping through my fingers. I sometimes feel like I already miss this stage and I’m still in it, which can be a little sad. Like there’s nothing to look forward to, which isn’t true, I know…or I hope!

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  7. Connie C.

    I really stumbled upon your blog, because I Googled, “how to crib/sleep train a 1 year old” and your posts about crib training YOUR 1 y.o. felt like someone had ripped thoughts out of my brain and wrote them down. That was 30 minutes ago. :)

    I’m reading through your posts at work, because I’m just so drawn to your writing and your experiences, because they are/soon will be mine.

    Thank you so much for sharing. :) I can’t wait to read more.

    PS. This post made me rethink about crib training my 1 y.o. hahahaha

    Reply

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