Since my first child was born, 12 ½ years ago, I have not heard an entire sermon on a Sunday morning. I have not caught an entire radio broadcast. I have not read an entire chapter of a book, page by page, sans interruption. Well, at least not during daylight hours.
I have not been able to fit into the same jeans. Or the same shoes. Or the same category.
I have gone into the grocery store and bought things that, prior to motherhood, I would have never bought before. Things like Captain Crunch. (Yes, I’m that kind of mother.) Or whole milk. Or Fruit Snacks by the dozen.
I have, possibly, finished a cup of coffee while it was still hot. Possibly. I have learned to make Halloween costumes because I’m THAT kind of mother. I have decided that Ramen noodles – as long as you add frozen peas to the hot water – are a legitimate food group. I have, once or twice, sat though movies I found to be unpallatable, simply because my kids thought that they were wonderful.
I have become a Girl Scout leader (albeit a fairly lame one) because someone needed to do it. I have waited in the line to pick up my children from school day after day after day because having my child come home from school happy rather than in tears is worth the time and gas. Yes, it interrupts my afternoon, especially as we live 10 miles out of town, but I’m a stay-at-home mom and this is my job. This is my calling.
I have had, in these 12 ½ years, more hugs and kisses than I’d had in the previous 29 years. I have had more stress. I have had more satisfaction. I have had more heartache. I have had more joy. I have had more interruptions. I have had more affirmation.
I have become more impatient. I have become more compassionate. I have become more…complete.
And so, in the interests of completion, I now complete a job I began when my first child was born. I now, in the presence of you witnesses, officially relinquish my youngest child’s diaper bag. I have not needed to carry a diaper bag for more than a year, however, I recently found said bag shoved in a corner of my bedroom where it has waited for months because I wasn’t ready to face the truth that she doesn’t need it anymore. That my smallest child is getting big. That I no longer need this link with her babyhood.
I hereby admit that I am grieving a ridiculous loss.
In light of this admonition, I promise that I will now strive to embrace the next 12 ½ years – in which I’ll see my kids go to school dances, learn to drive, apply for colleges, perhaps even get married. I’ll see two of them graduate, and I’ll face the specter of the empty nest.
I will not promise not to hoard their scribbled notes. I cannot promise that I won’t cherish their handmade gifts, their family portraits, their outgrown socks. And I fully anticipate that I’ll shove something away in a corner of my room – a drawing from pre-school, or a report card, or a forgotten permission slip – because I won’t be able to admit that they are really gone.
Because to admit that will mean that I am old.
And then I will be the one fidgeting on the pew next to their father.
Then again…maybe we’ll take off for Italy and thank our lucky stars that we are free.