I walk into work with head hung low, as sorrow and regret fill eyes and leak down cheeks. It has been one of those mornings, the kind that leaves you wishing for a "do-over", the kind that leaves you questioning, the kind that no one prepares your mom heart for. It's one of the hard days, and it feels long even though it's just begun. I shove hands hard and deep into pockets, partly in defense against the cold and partly in defense against the raw exposure of heart ripped wide because that's the raw you don't want seen. And that's when I feel them, two cold metal "coins"; a boy's treasure. One day, not too long ago, he placed this treasure he holds dear, in my hands for safe keeping. He trusts these hands, even with his treasure. For weeks, maybe months, the treasure remained in my care. He may have forgotten, but I'll return them safe. And when I do, I'll remind him that I've held them all this time, held his treasure. And I'll remind him just how much of a treasure he is to me, because sometimes I speak harshly, and I don't want him to forget. So all day long, I clasp coins in palm and I remember. I remember that even when I think he should behave as if he's grown, he isn't, he is just a little boy. He is just a little boy, His treasure, that He has placed in my hands for safe keeping.
Sometimes, at the end of the day, I wonder if you know how much I love you... I wonder because even though I spoke the words, I yelled too much, I was impatient and sometimes unkind. Sometimes, at the end of the day, I wonder if you know how much I love you... I wonder because even though I spoke the words, I wasn't fully present, I was distracted and I didn't really listen. Sometimes, at the end of the day, I wonder if you know how much I love you... I wonder because even though I spoke the words, I barely saw you, I worked late, you stayed in your room and I wasn't with you. Sometimes, at the end of the day, I wonder if you know how much I love you... I wonder because even though I spoke the words, I failed to 'thank you' for all you do, I took you for granted and was ungrateful. So even when I'm impatient, even when I'm distracted, even when I'm not near, even when I'm ungrateful, at the end of the day, I'll sit by your side just a little longer, I'll hug you just a little tighter, I'll lean in close and whisper soft, because at the end of the day, I just want you to know how much I love you.
It isn’t the big kid voice, with a growing vocabulary and precise pronunciation. It’s the loss of the squeaky voice and mis-spoken words. It’s not realizing how much you’ll miss talking about “rucks” and “tars”. It’s not realizing how much you’ll miss requests for “hamburbers” and “spabhetti”. It’s not knowing the last time you hear it is the last time you’ll hear it.
It isn’t the growing that gets me, it’s the loss of the little. It’s how growing up happens word by word and all at once.
It isn’t the growing in of molars and permanent teeth. It’s the loss of baby teeth and no more toothless grins, and it’s not knowing it’s the last time they’ll leave a tooth under their pillow until it’s the last time they leave a tooth under their pillow.
It isn’t the growing that gets me, it’s the loss of the little. It’s how growing up happens tooth by tooth and all at once.
It isn’t the growing into new found interests in video games, dance and sports. It’s the loss of the innocence it takes to believe in a talking mouse and a monkey’s mischief, and how you don’t know it’s the last time they’ll ask for Curious George at night, until you realize they’ve stopped asking for Curious George at night.
It isn’t the growing that gets me, it’s the loss of the little. It’s how growing up happens interest by interest and all at once.
It isn’t the fact that they can tie their own shoes or button their own coats, it’s the loss of the little toes and little fingers, and it’s not realizing that you are holding a chubby little toddler hand for that last time until you look down and realize that big kid hands have grown where toddler hands once were.
It isn’t the growing that gets me, it’s the loss of the little. It’s how growing up happens by fingers and toes and all at once.
It isn’t the fact that they can reach the cups and pour their own milk, it’s that they no longer fit on your lap and it’s not realizing it’s the last time you’ll carry them to bed until you realize you can no longer carry them to bed.
It isn’t the growing that gets me, it’s the loss of the little. It’s how growing up happens inch by inch and all at once.
It isn’t the growing that gets me, it’s the loss of the little. It’s how growing up happens day by day and all at once.
Some may wonder why I linger here.
Linger at the bus stop, until the taillights fade.
Linger at doors even after my children have passed through.
Although I know they probably won’t look back, they haven’t looked back for months or even years, I remember a time when little noses pressed hard against bus windows and little hands waved from 2nd story classrooms. I remember the times there were tears because they didn’t want to see me go, clinging to my leg and gripping my finger tight.
I know they probably won’t look back, but I linger just in case.
Just in case today is the day they feel a bit insecure,
Just in case today is the day they need that nod of encouragement,
Just in case today is the day they need an extra smile of reassurance,
Just in case today is the day they need to know that I am there.
So I linger, just in case today is the day they look back.
If today is the day they look back, I will be there. I will give them a nod of encouragement and a smile of reassurance.
And sometimes I linger, not for them, but for me.
I linger, because as I watch them, big and bold, I want to remember them little.
I want to remember little noses pressed to bus windows.
I want to remember little hands that once gripped my finger tight and waved from second story classrooms.
And sometimes, as I linger here and watch them go, I have to wipe away the tears, because as much as I love seeing them grow, it’s still hard on mommas letting go.
I’m glad he didn’t make the team.
My son tried out for a competitive 9u baseball team this summer. He had just completed the 8u season with the same team, but this time, he didn’t make the team. I went to every game and (almost) every practice, so trust me, I know his strengths and his weaknesses. Knowing his strengths and his weaknesses, as well as knowing there were over twice as many hopefuls as number of spots on the team, I also knew the odds were not in his favor. Needless to say, I was not surprised by the phone call that came on Monday morning from the coach, breaking the bad news – “He didn’t make the team.” Don’t get me wrong, my heart broke a little that day. I loved that team. Those boys, those coaches, those moms (and dads, but mostly the moms), had become dear to me over the course of the season. And when I told my boy the news, my heart broke wide open. He was crushed. He loved that team. Those boys and those coaches had become dear to him over the course of the season. And truth be told, my heart aches for him just a bit (well, maybe more than a bit), every time I hear him share this disappointment with others, but I’m glad he didn’t make the team. Why? Because if I am being honest (which I try to be, even when it’s hard), he wasn’t good enough.
In the aftermath of the disappointing news, I wiped his tears and hugged him hard. I told him that I was sorry he didn’t make it and that I knew how disappointed he was, but I didn’t tell him that he should have made the team or that it was unfair. Because if I am being honest, (which I try to be, even when it’s hard), it was fair. He wasn’t good enough. I know him, as a player, I know him. I play catch with him, I pitch to him, I coach him. I watch all of his games and (almost) all of this practices, and I watched the tryout. I know his strengths and I know his weaknesses.
In this culture of participation trophies and “everyone’s a winner” (all of which I believe in and support in youth sports), I’m glad he didn’t make the team. This won’t be the last time he isn’t chosen for a team, a job, an award. It is just the first time. At age 9, some might argue that it is too soon, or too young to “be cut” from a sports team, but I disagree. My son has fallen in love with baseball and not making the team has proven to be an opportunity. An opportunity to set goals that are attainable, but require hard work, dedication and a realistic assessment of progress. When he first got the news that day, he initially told me that he no longer wanted to play baseball, but like I said, he has fallen in love with baseball. So instead of quitting or giving up, he has continued to practice, working on every aspect of his game – hitting, fielding, throwing. And all that hard work – it’s making him better – a better baseball player. But the growth is beyond baseball – it’s in focus and confidence.
His goal is to make the 10u team next year. He might make it, he might not, but, make it or not, he will know that he worked hard, he didn’t quit, he didn’t give up. He knows that he has become a better baseball player because of that hard work. It’s an experience and a lesson I hope he will carry with him through life. Goals are worth working for and dreams are worth chasing. So, as much as I loved that team – those boys, those coaches, those moms (and dads, but mostly the moms) – I’m glad he didn’t make the team.
When you bring your boys to play, don’t apologize.
So many moms of boys apologize for the “what ifs.” And I have done it too… anticipated, apologized… for boys.
But when you bring your boys to play, don’t apologize for the noise. I know they will be loud, louder, LOUDEST!
When you bring your boys to play, don’t apologize for the wild and the crazy. I can dodge nerf bullets and peel sticky ninjas (clearly a toy invented by a man) from the ceiling.
When you bring your boys to play, don’t apologize for their table manners. I know they may talk with their mouths full, put their elbows on the table and even fart at dinner.
And the laughter, never apologize for the laughter – we want plenty of laughter (especially if they fart at dinner) and it will be LOUD.
But even in all this CRAZY, I will enjoy your boys, WILD, with my boy. As a boy with 2 sisters, he needs this brotherhood of boys. He needs the LOUD, the CRAZY and the FARTING. He needs the boys.
So bring your boys to play, mommas. And don’t apologize.
May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
Strength, dear daughters, comes in many forms. As you grow, I hope you will appreciate your strength. Never be ashamed of your physical strength – the strength that develops in your legs from the miles that you run or the hours that you dance. Embrace that strength and try not to take if for granted, but remember that strength is so much more than the physical. Strength is showing kindness even when it isn’t the popular thing to do. Strength is speaking up when necessary, but also knowing when speaking your mind is more hurtful than helpful. Strength is standing up for what you believe is right, but also admitting when you are wrong. Strength is recognizing that you need help sometimes and not being afraid to ask for it. Strength is trying. Strength is failing. Strength is trying again, even after you fail. Strength is getting back up after you fall. Strength is starting. Strength is finishing. Strength can be loud, but it can also be quiet. Strength is believing in yourself, even when others doubt. Strength is believing in others, even when they don’t believe in themselves.
Even if you have never laced up a pair of running shoes and hit the pavement, competed in a marathon or even a fun run, if you are a mother, you are a runner.
You run to crying babies and bedsides.
You run to skinned knees and for band-aid boxes.
You run to stores and sports and home again.
You run from stove to table again and again.
You run after school homework sessions.
You run off monsters and chase away fears.
You are a runner.
The importance of all the running is taken for granted and there are no medals at the finish line. There are days it seems we are simply running our mouths and no one is listening. Other days, the only runs are those in our stockings. We run in circles and up against seemingly insurmountable odds. There will be runs that are all uphill and against the wind, and you will want to quit. But even on the days (or weeks, or months) when nothing seems to be running smoothly, remember mother, You are a runner. Runners keep running. Running in the rain, the heat and even the cold. They run against the wind and against all odds. Runners don’t quit. Mothers don’t quit. All of the miles, the easy ones, the hard ones, the painful and the fun ones are all worth running. The little people you are running after and running for will not remember the runs in your stockings, but they will remember you running beside them, running to them and running for them. And they will feel it – the love behind all the running. So keep running. You are one tough Mother Runner, but know that you are not running alone. There are a million other mothers running this race with you. They are running behind you and beside you. If I see you on the run, know that I will not judge your pace, your style or your stride. I will cheer you on and pick you up if you fall. I am running the same grueling, challenging, beautiful course – I am a mother. Let’s do this – together.
Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton