This past month, on separate occasions, I heard two identical conversations regarding motherhood. Because I intersected with the same conversation twice, it forced me to take pause. The essence centered around this point: Mothering my daughter is just a fraction of my life.
Right now, at this very moment, I sometimes lose sight of this truth. Some days motherhood is so consuming. From the moment I wake up, coaching of my daughter commences. “Wake up, honey. It is time to go to school.” I bellow this line every morning. As she wakes from her slumber, she cries because she wants to sleep in. “Just five more minutes, Momma?” I offer the same words I uttered the previous day. “No, you can’t sleep in. You will be late to school.” With some convincing, she stumbles to the shower. I start checking off my mental list of all the things that I need to do just to get her to school. I boil a pot of water because she enjoys a hard-boiled egg with her waffles and glass of milk. While the water bubbles, I assemble her lunch, check to see if her water bottle is in her backpack and that she’s remembered to put her homework in her folders. This all happens within 30 minutes after I click the snooze button.
There are the incessant reminders that dominate many of my conversations with her. “Did you get your socks? Did you remember to bring your jacket? Wear your tennis shoes today because you have P.E.” There are the drives to and from school, playdates sprinkled on the weekend, extracurricular activities on a few weeknights, and the endless stream of birthday parties that occupy Saturdays.
Some days it feels like too much. I complain to my husband that raising children takes so much time, energy, work and at the end of the day the “me” factor vanishes. I am too tired to pursue me. I just want to sleep – this is sometimes elusive as well, nightmares, bathroom breaks, and tuck in requests seem to happen at 2:00 a.m. in the morning.
How long will this type of mothering last? My daughter is seven. She is already moving forward in ways that leave me with very little to say. It hit me yesterday when I tried to pick her up, but struggled because she’s grown as tall as some of the younger cacti in our yard. My daughter said, “You cannot even pick me up, Momma. I am too old now.”
You know those moments, when everything clicks? That is when it hit me. Mothering my daughter this way, in the most basic way, will end soon. In 10 years, she will embark on pathways that will probably not include me. Of course, I always hope to occupy a space in her backdrop, but it will never encompass the type of mothering that I do now.
Much like the picture captured of her dancing at my sister’s wedding, she will jump, move forward, while I watch.
As I write this, the clarity hits like a tidal wave.
Only a fraction of my life. And that fact leaves me brimming with tears.
IMAGE BY GREG BLOMBERG PHOTOGRAPHY