Let me preface this by saying I’ve been a weepy, nostalgic mess for the past few weeks. You’ll read why below. Besides, my forty-fifth birthday happens to be this week and the reality of my own age throws into sharp relief the ages of my children. This is a gratuitous post about a mama’s heart. I can’t apologize, but I can warn you here.
At least twice this weekend, I caught a glimpse of my 12-year-old daughter and wondered who that woman was. Seriously, I didn’t recognize her at first. She looked so mature. Certainly, she didn’t look like my little girl anymore. The flash of a smile gleaming with braces reassured me that it really was her.
Watching my children continue to grow reminds me that life flows on and we are powerless to stop it.
She stands only an inch shorter than me, and I’m taller than the average woman at 5’7″. She wears a size 10 shoe. These days, her clothes are a women’s medium. Indeed, she’s a young woman in stature. I’m sure she’ll be taller than me by her thirteenth birthday in February. How did this happen?
Seventh grade is her sandwich year of middle school. Last year she was new to it. Next year she’ll be on the precipice of high school. I like this sandwich year. She’s a pro at middle school but not ready to leave it just yet. It’s like a little respite from the reality that she’s hurtling towards full-blown teenage life.
Sometimes I think about the fact that I only have her for six more years as a child. In that short span of time, she will mature even further and get good at lots of new things. She’ll fail and hopefully, learn from it. She’ll develop her own ideas and ways of seeing the world. Her tender heart and love for Jesus continue to blossom as she grows.
Then there’s my 7-year-old son. He’s growing taller also, and his face is thinning to a face that isn’t my baby’s anymore. The fat baby in the Tigger costume has vanished. He’s losing teeth and racking up cash for them. In fact, when he lost a tooth last week, he admitted: “I’ve been looking to get my hands on some cash.” Who says that at seven years old? This is because he wants a Nintendo Switch. He forcibly yanked his tooth out because…cash.
He reads, a lot. It’s never any trouble to get him to do his homework because in second grade it’s just reading for fifteen minutes a night. Most days, he reads an hour or more on his own after he gets home from school. Plus, there are the deep, philosophical questions and statements as of late. These include things like “Why are dolphins mammals but need to live in the water?” and “I think God wants me to be a comedian so I can share jokes with people who don’t have any.”
Watching my children continue to grow reminds me that life flows on and we are powerless to stop it. I used to tell them that they had to freeze and couldn’t get any older. They would laugh like crazy at this command. Then they’d openly defy it daily, outgrowing their clothes and getting too big to carry to bed.
In a blur of nostalgia and disbelief, I watched my oldest daughter pledge her heart and life in marriage two weeks ago. On an overcast day on my sister’s farm, I waved a final goodbye to my firstborn baby’s childhood. The feisty, red-haired girl in the pansy-print dress and pigtails had magically transformed into a beautiful woman in a bridal gown. It seems I’d just taken her to her first day of kindergarten not long before this.
How did I miss it? When did she grow up?
With the first child, I wasn’t aware of how to slow down and treasure each moment.
With the first child, I wasn’t aware of how to slow down and treasure each moment. I was rushing through life, trying to navigate my own adulthood. Somehow the years slipped by without my permission. Her childhood was documented by photos that reside in cellophane-paged albums and boxes of film negatives. Now and then I come across these photos and tears come as I remember it all.
The younger two are babies of the digital age. I take so many pictures of them doing any and everything because I now know that time is a thief and steals our babies away. It turns them into adults who graduate from college and get married. It turns them into seventh-graders who look like women. It turns them into funny, tooth-yanking boys who used to be toothless babies.
I now know that time is a thief and steals our babies away.
Immortalizing them in imperfect, everyday moments is my way of selfishly hoarding these memories. I make no apology for it to them or to those who must endure my social media feeds. I need to remember. I need proof that I once had babies.
Another October blows in with brisk wind and falling leaves, and I marvel at how I too grew up. The awkward girl with the Dorothy Hamill haircut has metamorphosized into a fortysomething mother of three. The rebellious teenager has become a God-fearing, praying mother, interceding for blessing and protection over her three red-haired children. I’m certain my own mother asks “Who is that woman?” about me sometimes. Her little one in the 1970’s Garanimals has become middle-aged.
Every mama’s heart is burdened with the weight of her children’s fleeting childhoods. But the beauty is that we are still Mama. They may be too big to carry or living with their spouses, but we are still Mama. Lord help us to impart something good in them before they fly.
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Hi! I’m Tracy…Christ-follower, wife, mama, writer, blogger, speaker, teacher, dreamer. I love Earl Grey Tea and quiet mornings. Here at Earl Grey and Yellow, the focus is striving to be faithful and appreciate the small things. So glad you stopped by. Please have a look around and subscribe to our newsletter and social media to stay connected.