The long, hot, lazy days of summer I have been anticipating for the past nine months are numbered...and it seems they will be gone before I even have the opportunity to experience any of the long or lazy parts of them. Which is not true for Olivia...
And, in the interest of full disclosure, Allie and I have indulged in our fair share of relaxing summer pedicures that will all too soon be unnecessary as we cover our fuchsia toenails with wool socks and snow boots....
I always thought as the kids got older, we would somehow have more time, especially to enjoy these fleeting summer months. Maybe we wouldn't feel so confined to the house because of nap schedules or bed time routines. And they would no longer need me to do everything for them, taking it upon their own initiatives to gather snacks and drinks, play on their own in the backyard, go to the bathroom unassisted....
All this is beginning to ring true, but it has failed to give us more of that precious time. In fact, no naps mean we schedule more activities, all fun, but more nonetheless. Self-sufficiency in the kitchen means more of my time spent cleaning up all the food that didn't quite make it into their mouths or on their plates in the first place. Not changing diapers or wiping little bums definitely has its benefits, but again, by the end of the day the bathroom sometimes looks like a war zone.
When I had my first baby the days seemed endless, melding from one day to the next, from one diaper to another, from one sleepless night to another, until slowly (ever so slowly) the days turned into weeks which transformed into months and after what seemed like a lifetime, we happily celebrated her first birthday...because...hallelujah, we made it a full year, alive and unscathed!
I really could not relate to everyone telling me to "savor each moment because they aren't little for long." What?! I mean, motherhood was by no means boring, there was always that little babe that needed me and something around the house beckoning to be done. At that point in time, it seemed endless. Diaper. Dishes. Feed. Spit-Up. Diaper. Laundry. Feed. Eeensy-Weensy Nap. Spit-Up. Diaper. Dishes. Feed. Spit-Up.
Boring, no. Monotonous, yes. At least that was my experience.
I do have plenty of joyous memories from those first days of motherhood too. I was definitely like any other mother, anticipating every smile and laugh, waiting ever so patiently for her first word, watching expectantly for that first step. I loved my baby, but that didn't mean the first year was perfect.
I think, just as my little Allie was at the beginning of her life, barely starting the process of growing and becoming who God created her to be, I was also on a similar path of discovery. I felt many days that I wasn't quite sure of who I was, how this new role of "mother" was supposed to fit on me. Many of those days, instead of feeling like I was wearing my favorite well-worn pajama pants and hoodie (even though that is exactly what I was wearing on the outside), I felt instead like I was forcing myself into a ridiculous designer spandex number that seemed to hug tight at all the wrong places and showcased a most unflattering silhouette. In fact, I often felt that motherhood didn't quite seem to fit me at all.
Now, seven years later, I wish I could tell that 24 year old mother a few things. I wish I could tell her how Satan can use crazy hormones and sleep deprivation to make you feel worthless and depressed. That those monotonous tasks, however monotonous they may seem, do make a difference, even if it doesn't feel like it as you are scraping poop from the wall or desperately scrubbing away spit up for the thousandth time in less than 12 hours.
Most of all, though, I wish I could somehow make her understand how fleeting time is...how you will continuously wish for more, but always in vain. I wish I could make her see that for every annoying and miserable task that she has to endure, there will be a thousand more joys to come...maybe not right away and maybe not even every day, but as you make the choice to look for them, they will be found.
And with the passing of that time, with the good and the bad, you will grow to become the mother your children need. The early days of apprehension and awkwardness will slowly be replaced by a growing confidence rooted in the discovery that God is continually at work in your heart, molding you and shaping you, right alongside your kids. You grow and learn and love together, God alone providing the grace to cover the many, many shortcomings you will inevitably experience.
We have approximately one month left of summer.
One month left to marvel at Allie's hair blowing in the breeze as she rides her bike down the street to the park, sporting that gapped-tooth smile and laughing with abandon because when you're six, you really don't have a care in the world.
I have one month left to burn into my memory the feel of Zach's hand in mine as we make our way up the street to the park behind Allie, Zach offering to push the stroller so I can have a break, chattering the whole way about all the things that are important to his four-year old mind and heart.
One month left to marvel at the curls in Olivia's hair brought on by this summer's humidity as she kicks her chubby legs in the stroller, reaching out her hands above her head to feel the breeze, and fluttering her eyes as the wind blows warm across her sweet face.
One month of left of summer...and I plan to make the very best of it!