The day had gotten away from us, and suddenly it was late – 10:30 and the end of a busy day.
We stood together brushing our teeth, my son and I, both gazing in the mirror with sleep-hungry eyes.
It was bedtime.
It was ritual and rhythm and everyday mundane.
As he stood in front of me I noticed, surprised, that he reaches so far beyond my chin. My eyes grazed the top of his head toward our reflection in the mirror.
I wrapped my arm around his chest and gave him a squeeze, testing. He didn't pull away but leaned in, so I left my arm there while we brushed.
I'm learning the new boundaries. And adapting to them with grace. But sometimes I miss the boundless affection of early childhood.
I shift and grow and count this leaning in as measure of our closeness.
How many times had we done this before? Brushing together, readying for bed.
Mother and child, suspended in the mundane rituals of life.
First him in the sling, toothless but aware, me in the same pajamas I'd worn constantly for three days and counting.
Next him with tiny teeth, the top pair cutting first, unexpectedly, after the wheelbarrow incident. I called him "bunny" when this ritual began, me brushing his two new teeth each night before sleep.
I remember him standing, mouth open wide, wild blond curls around his ears, wearing floral pink polyester footie pajamas that he chose himself from the thrift store.
As he grew I remember making up brushing songs to get him to keep still long enough for me to finish. He would lie back on the tile floor as I pretended the toothbrush was a backhoe and his teeth were a construction site, his blue eyes sparkling.
Two teeth. Then four. Then a mouthful.
And soon he was big enough to brush himself, with checking, then without.
Night after night in a seemingly endless string stretching out into forever.
But it's not forever. It's finite.
Because here we were, thousands of nights into our journey, my eyes just clearing his head to see us in the mirror.
It won't be long now.
And I thought –
I'm thankful I wasn't born a bird.
Because almost thirteen years with this child? It is far from enough.
What if we had only a season?
Then, I suppose, we would truly savor.
Savor each brief moment before our fledglings fly.
And so I will.
I will savor. And be grateful.
Because we get scores more time with our children than most.
And for that I am so grateful.
Yet still somehow, I feel the time we have could never be enough.
P.S. If you're new here you might also enjoy this and this, two favorites about the journey that is mothering.
8 thoughts on “Before our fledglings fly”
I had a full-on ugly cry last week when my son turned ten. Ten! So wonderful, yet so unbelievable. It all happens way too fast. I so feel you on this one.
Thank you, Thank you for this today! It has really touched my soul. My oldest is rounding in on twelve, and I know I have years to come before she leaves my nest, but as she baked cookies for the family last week, completely on her own (and teaching a younger sibling some culinary tricks along the way), I couldn’t help but feel a little melancholy about how big she is and how little time I actually have left. Sometimes I get caught up in life and forget to savor my littles as they are now and I need reminding… Thank you.
Ohh, I hear you. We have spent each and everyday together since their birth and yet, I also feel like the time we have will never be enough… When I had 3 under 18 months (yes, twins + 1) and an old lady squeezed my arm as I stumbled into our local coffee shop, big circles around my eyes, and told me to enjoy them because it goes by way too quickly, I could not help but feel these babies would never potty train, sleep through the night or stop clinging to me… and then, a mere 10 years later, we live in our bus and travel everywhere, go on 8 miles hike, mountain bike and rock climb together… and still, I feel like the time we have will never be enough. Thank you, Rachel, for your beautiful wise mama words.
Today is my first day, first read. A few women at an enrichment meeting at school told me I just had to read your blog. This may sound weird and creepy, but I want to be your friend. I live in Minnesota… maybe I will just be an avid reader. I have farm dreams all the time, my husband and I have been searching for a place to create a little haven for us and our 4 kids but just can’t seem to get all the pieces together… work, school, location, price… etc. Maybe it’s a timing thing… so for now I will be vicariously living my life through you… or maybe just getting some really great pointers for future adventures. Nice to meet you.
This speaks to me!!! My oldest will be 18 this year. I am feeling a huge range of emotions as we come to this huge milestone for her and me as a mama. Learning the balance of letting go and supporting is a beautiful heartfelt dance. I am so grateful to be a mama in all the seasons of motherhood to my wonderful four babes. Thanks for this post.
Beautiful post. I wrote about this very thing recently. Bittersweet. http://mothersalwayswrite.com/sehnsucht/
My 13 year old son is now the one looking over my head. It seemed to happen over night.
My 8 year old told me the other day that she wants to return to competitive gymnastics (after a 3 1/2 month break). Yes, she is good. Yes, maybe she is very talented. But the money will make it a huge struggle and the biggest struggle? 12-16 hours away from her each week. I don’t think we can do it. I think to myself, yeah we homeschool, yeah I would get to see her all day until 4:30. Then I think about all the other gymnasts. They are in public school. They leave school and go straight there! I don’t know how they or their parents do it! But we are different. I don’t know what to say to her. I guess the truth would be good.