When I held my very first baby, when my most delicate parts had been carefully stitched back together, when my tears would flow every time she showed signs of hunger because feeding her was excruciating, when I found myself on the couch crying and remembering the carefree life I had experienced just days before, when I called her pediatrician and asked him in all seriousness if he could take her just until she was around two years of age, when I was at my very worst I noticed older women gazing longingly at my child and I thought that they clearly had no idea how bad it was because otherwise there was no way they would miss it.
Seventeen years ago the phrase “you’ll miss it, it all goes so fast” was nails on a chalkboard. I knew there was no way I would miss it. “It” sucked.
Monday that baby begins her senior year of high school and mommas with the sewn together bits, the sore nipples, the exhaustion so extreme that your teeth ache… let me tell you: It goes so quickly. I have no idea how this has happened. I feel like I looked away and something terrible happened: my baby grew and grew and grew and now nothing on my body aches except my heart. I can send her to the store with her older brother (I know…. she’s my first, but our family’s second and things are complicated and beautiful and blessed) for veggie burgers. We can sit in starbucks and talk politics and leadership and being the light. It’s great. But to get here all of those other days had to happen, and they happened so fast that I can see with lightning precision how quickly this stage will fly before my eyes, too. Before I know it I will be loading her into the car for college, and then unloading boxes at her first home, and then cooing over a baby in her arms that looks so much like her that I remember even more clearly the confusion and discomfort and terror of her first days of life.
When I see you with your babies, I see YOU, too, mommas. I see you from your mesh undies to your climbing into your car to follow the bus to you cheering them on at soccer. I see you in the waiting room while they get their braces, and sifting through college brochures. I see you wondering all too soon where all of that time went. I see a future you that you don’t know yet, but one day you two will shake hands and say “Awww… I heard you would soon be arriving.” I know you don’t believe me, but you will. I can almost promise you that one day you will see me, too, when you pass a brand new baby and a frazzled new mommy and you tell her “Enjoy it, sweet girl. It passes far too quickly” because I see those women who told me the same truths that felt like lies every time the words come from my mouth. I remember thinking they were older, when now I know they didn’t know they were. They still felt like that young momma who brought their baby home, but their baby somehow is grown. I am her now, and you are me. I guess this is motherhood.
It passes too quickly.