Sometimes when I quickly scroll through the photos on my computer or on my Instagram, I think that this is what it might look like to see my life flash before my eyes. Snippets and snapshots and memories, flipping by, one after another through my mind. A few of them painful, but most of them sweet. The simple, ordinary moments that make up my life.
This season has been full. With travel and projects and big plans coming down the pike. There are mornings like this morning when it feels like my day-to-day tasks are heaped one upon another. And sometimes I want to grab hold of the nearest rooted object and hold on tight, whispering, "Slow down!"
Slow down to this month and to my bursting to-do list and to my children's growing up.
Slow it down.
Ten and nearly fifteen years into this mothering gig of mine, it's hard to remember how it felt when they were small.
I can vaguely remember bouncing on the yoga ball at midnight, longing for sleep. I remember endless walks and cuddles, snacks and make-believe games. I remember the enormous piles of story books beside the couch, the bed, the chair. (At least some things haven't changed.)
And I can faintly remember hoping to eek out just one more hour of something to get us through until bedtime, lest I tuck my children in at 6 PM. Today that notion is so foreign. Filling time? I can't recall the last time I had to think up things for them to do, just to fill hours until bedtime. Goodness, we're cutting tasks just to get people to actually sleep.
Back then it was the bedtime story that insured sleep, all of us piled in our one enormous bed. (A twin and a king together. I cant recommend it enough.) After the book came the song and the snuggle, then we laid together in the darkness for what felt like (or perhaps really was) hours until I heard their slow, measured breath.
These days Lupine and I still read together before bed. Then she heads to her own room to read her own books, sometimes awake long after I have fallen sleep. Sage and I always find a moment to connect before bed as well, and sometimes when I wake to adjust my pillow at midnight I can see his light is still on, as he reads late into the night. It's a different world.
I think in the thick of those years and years of hands-on/24-7 parenting I felt like that chapter would last forever – the night wakings and night nursings; the shared bed; the broken sleep. But of course it doesn't. It didn't. And things unfolded in their own time, just as they are meant to. With no agenda or expectation, just everyone growing older and stronger and more independent, day after day after day.
Last night, in the midst of a fierce storm, a song was requested for the first time in as long as I can remember. And she told me, "sometimes when I can't fall asleep I sing that to myself."
This is what motherhood looks like now. The song from my own lips being rare, but my children singing themselves to sleep, whether literally or figuratively, night after night.
And I'm certain I will blink tomorrow and find we're all ten years older once more, my babies grown and gone.
While all of this sounds rather melancholy I assure you it is not. I'm savoring this chapter. Every morsel that I can. And I'm remembering back to when someone told me, that the "difficult, sensitive babies make amazing teens and adults." For how hard the early years were, the later years would be that much richer. And how true it is. Life was harder back then. Some years were brutal with broken sleep and trying days, my cheeks and theirs stained with tears before noon. But now we're so far removed from that that it's hard to even remember what it felt like.
And truly, for that I am so grateful.
I remember as a new mother wishing someone had told me how hard motherhood would be. How it wouldn't be all rainbows and fairy dust and butterfly kisses. That the early years in particular were built upon sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and overstimulation, with a bit of lost identity thrown in for good measure.
But maybe no one told me that because it was hard for them to remember. We're selective in which snapshots get saved for the stack that will flash before our eyes.
We filter. We edit. We grow up, too. And we find blessings in those challenging years that overshadow the struggles.
Today I am keenly aware of how much time has elapsed already and how fast that next chapter may come. And how today's struggles will be tomorrow's faint and blurry memories. And all of these years will just be memories that silently scroll through my mind.
Just images and snapshots.
The memories I will savor before I fall sleep.