Today is March 14th and this is the day that my oldest child turns 21. Twenty one. That means he’ll officially officially be an adult. Able to go and do and see all the things. I should tell you that he’s already been going and doing most of the things for quite some time. He’s a really good kid. KID.
I still call him one of “my teenagers,” only he hasn’t been one for some time.
Old habits die hard I guess.
I think it’s kind of ironic that when I had little people running my life, I dreamt of the days when they’d be big and grown and independent. And then suddenly, they were. And I found myself wanting to remember exactly what those old days were like, even if just for a moment.
I still try, but it’s only bits and pieces.
I can’t remember the sound of their little voice or the smell of their hair or the feel of that soft toddler skin. Sigh.
I sit here with tears streaming down my face looking at photos of him, I wonder:
-When was the last time he looked UP at me with those puppy dog eyes and said “hold my hand mama”?
-When was the last time I stopped to help him tie his shoe or brush his unruly blonde curls out of his eyes?
-When was the last time he sat on my lap and asked me to read him a book?
I’m so glad that I never knew exactly when those days would take place and they would just silently slip away. I believe that if moms knew “the last day of __ or __” was taking place, it would be so hard to let them grow up.
What I wouldn’t give to re-live just a few moments of those carefree, emotional raising toddler days.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of wishing time away. “I can’t wait until—“, “Someday he’ll be able to do this by himself…” “Only ___ years till he’ll be an adult and out of here..” Side note: the teenage years are not always glamorous or for the faint of heart.
I’ve always loved my children deeply but there were plenty of days when I didn’t “like them” as much.
(I know a few moms are nodding their heads and giving me a silent high-five. I appreciate you. We are a tribe. The “mothers raising good teenagers that we want to turn into great adults while juggling all the other things” tribe. We gotta have each others backs.)
I’m 100% sure that the feeling was mutual for my kids towards me. *Insert a row of many mixed emotional emojis here and don’t forget the LOL, the eye roll, the monkey covering his eyes and the prayer.*
I had Jordan just a few weeks after my 19th birthday–only 9 short months after my high school graduation. It was never in my plan to have kids so early in life–I wanted to be completely selfish for a while first. I had helped raise my 5 siblings during my high school years so I was ready to just live in peace and quiet without little people getting into my stuff or consuming all of my time. I guess God had a different plan for me… and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
When I got pregnant with him, I wasn’t really worried -in fact I was confident that I would do a pretty good job–after all I had some experience in this department. My youngest sister Ashley was just a year and half old when I had Jordan. I wasn’t scared to become a mom, I was excited, but wasn’t sure how we were going to raise a child with no money. Thankfully we had lots of love.
We were young. We were broke. We were just two kids having a kid of our own. And we were so in love with that 9 pound 12 ounce baby boy. I truly think that having Jordan so young saved Josh (his father, my now-husband) from a life of destruction. Something he said a long time ago that I love to reflect on: “A teenage pregnancy saved my life.” and *I* believe it.
I think back to that young mother and want to hug her and tell her so many things.
I’d tell her to embrace those toothless grins and sticky little fingers because someday, no matter what she feels right this minute, she is gonna miss them.
I’d tell her to watch them sleep peacefully more often and tell God how grateful she is for the beautiful human He blessed her with.
I’d tell her to take even more photos because let’s be honest: no one ever gets to the end of their life and says “I really wish I wouldn’t have taken so many photos…” (Tease me all you want. I’m justifying more and more photos so get ready to smile.)
I’d remind her to:
….Write more memories/kid quotes/milestones down (because yes, you will forget them)
….Ask him more questions about life (because kids are so hilariously brilliant and honest)
….Climb those trees, play in the mud, make forts in the living room and ignore the mess, eat cake for breakfast occasionally, laugh a lot.
….Stop taking all the pictures and GET IN THE PHOTO. Stop worrying about your dress size and just smile and say “cheese” with your baby. Please. Get in front of the camera. Your kids are going to want to see what their beautiful, amazing mother looked like when they were a newborn, 4, 10, 13.5 and today.
As I sit here and look through memories of my son, I smile and remember so many wonderful moments. I want to tell you that I also remember a time when I was elbows deep in diapers and babies and toys and life did not seem to be flying by.
I was overtired.
It seemed like I was always going in 12 different directions.
My house was a mess and there weren’t enough hours in the day.
I put my kids before myself.
Side note: I wouldn’t ever give up my title of “Stay at Home Mom” because I can never get those years back.
I heard the first word, I saw the first step and I was paid in hugs, kisses, fresh-baked cookies, toddler laughs all while wearing yoga pants. It was not a bad gig.
Even though we didn’t have a lot of money, my heart was full. But I also remember feeling at times like I was drowning in life. I was doomed to be forever cleaning up gross mysterious substances, coaxing a tiny human why they should just listen and go to bed and then waking up with the same tiny human sprawled across my bed and face.
It doesn’t last forever.
They grow up. (Promise)
They become responsible and make the right choices (all that discipline pays off!)
They start needing you less and less. (sounds dreamy to some, like torture for others)
Soak in those baby/toddler/preteen years. SOAK THEM UP.
Make them snuggle–or bribe them if you have to. (Oh you want one of my fresh-baked cookies? Well I’d like a 30 second hug, a smooch and a selfie with you first. Deal?) Don’t feel a bit of guilt about it either. I honestly wish I had more selfies with my kids because those faces change.
It sounds cliché to end with this buuuttt…
Kids grow like weeds.
They don’t stay little for long.
I heard all of these things when my kids were small and I rolled my eyes too.
If you’re elbows deep in all the things that raising babies brings, know that they do grow up and often times, it’s much too fast. So stop and document the madness.. because someday you won’t remember it.
This morning I celebrated my 21st year as a mother. Twenty one birthdays for my son Jordan who was once a tiny newborn and now is a handsome young man.
My heart is a mix of emotions… but mostly I’m just so grateful for the baby boy who changed my life.
Live life while you’re alive…