Happy Mother’s Day! I think of all the great mothers I am honored to know who are in different stages of mothering, from those experiencing the ultimate joy of holding your newborns in your arms to moms dropping their little girls off at college, to those in their ‘90s, still carrying the same worries for their “babies.”
Motherhood is a journey without a roadmap, plenty of potholes in the road, and a few wrong turns here and there. Chronicling their lives seems crucial. After all, who is going to do it, if not you? Are you one of those dedicated savers, who with every award and accolade your child gets means you’ll gather your scissors and glue, and perfectly place them in an up-to-date scrapbook? Are their baby books an exact narrative of their first days, so that one day they’ll see just how loved and special their childhood was? Or, are you like me, always meaning to get around to those books? Since my kids were born, I have had “scrapbooks” on my to-do list, and they are now 11 and 13—time to let that dream go?
I recently came across a few envelopes with $20 bills in them, tucked away beneath a mammoth pile of items in my closet that may someday go into a scrapbook. It should have been a moment of “oh look what I find when I dig into the scrapbook pile” and perhaps spurred me into action. Instead, I sat there and thought of just what those envelopes meant, how they were an integral part of our early days. And so, my dear boys, if I had carefully crafted books for you to look through, which you don’t, they would look something like this…
In your first five years, I was there for every second of it. I could not stand to leave you, so I quickly discovered I could work from home and set up an office in the house. Between diaper changes and feedings, we managed to close a few loans. Before we knew it, a little brother came along, and our days became busier, bursting with love. Your books would show pictures of long days spent at the library where we participated in every program they offered. They would show us visiting all the parks in the area. We knew which ones had the best shade, and snug spots to slip into as we played hide-and-seek. We spent exciting afternoons at the beach, dodging waves and overcoming our desire to run to the shore for safety. And those $20 bills—they offered us a couple “luxuries” throughout the week like an ice cream cone or $1 movies during the summer. I miss those days when money, though extremely tight, was almost an afterthought to the fun we would have.
Fast-forward (because nothing happens slowly in the life of a child) to your beginning days of school and you will see our pleasure as we delighted in teachers and others recognizing you for your good behavior and citizenship. You would see photos of new friends and families who would be in our lives all these years later celebrating birthdays and milestones. There would be ribbons and certificates from the sports and activities you participated in as we figured out your strengths and weaknesses and what you enjoyed. There would be long days of doing nothing but hanging around as a family, cooking and baking together, rearranging and decorating your rooms to accommodate your changing tastes, and playing with our dogs, your other “siblings.” As I look back on your imaginary scrapbook, it strikes me that we are incredibly fortunate that your pages are not marked with sickness or strife.
Your scrapbook, which would be overflowing with photos and tidbits of your life up to now, is ready for your next stage, ages 11 through 15, but am I? I already feel the gravity of life pulling you away a bit, separating us slightly enough to let you evolve and grow on your own. Whereas I arranged every activity you used to have, you are making your own plans now, checking with your driver, or me, to see if transportation is available. Your photos would show emerging young men exploring life and places with trusted family members and friends, hopefully making us proud. Summers spent with your aunt and uncle and sleepaway camps will allow you freedom to roam, while looking forward to returning to your home base which will always be me and your dad. Before we know it, the pages of your book will be filled with prom photos and pictures of your graduation parties. My tears are flowing as I realize just how quickly that will come.
I think ahead to this summer when I will be abundantly blessed with long days with the two of you. I intend on making every single second count. We will open the summer with a morning of “scrapbooking,” where we bring the boxes of memories out, print out some pictures, and bring your books to life. I am determined to finally cross “scrapbooks” from my to-do list. I think it is important to have a chronological picture, a tangible thing, to be able to look back on happy times. And besides, pictures of us “scrapbooking” together will be a nice addition to your books. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms! Whether your baby books are complete or not, we hope you feel loved and cherished every day.
Photos courtesy of Mother’s Day Quotes Facebook page and The Sarasota Post.