Monday, August 15, 2011

bitter-sweet {from babies to EFY teenagers}

I was emotional about babies this summer.
(What else is new? And really, who wouldn't when you have babies like this one around? I can't take photo credit...don't know who snapped this one.)

I'm not talking just a little bit of nostalgia, I'm talking tears-streaming-down-my-cheeks kind of emotional.

Multiple times.

What is wrong with me? I'm tearing up even as I write this for crying out loud!

It all started out one night as we sat around talking at the lake and I glanced over and saw my sister-in-law snuggling with her baby. She was interacting with her as only a mother really can. You know, that pure-love-in-the-eyes oogling and big open-mouth kisses kinda stuff. There is something about that connection that just hit me like a truck.

It hit me how much I miss it. So much that my heart felt hollow.

There is something magical about having a baby. Your baby. The way you know just how they like to be held. The way their eyes light up when you walk into a room. The way you can understand every noise they make (most of the time after you have put in some good sweat and tears to figure that out). The way your heart feels like it just may burst out of you when you watch them sleep at night. I looked forward from the time I was practically a baby myself to that time when I would be able to carry my own around on my hip, their pacifiers as a ring.

Sure, they were trouble. Sure, they caused me to loose sleep and hair and stomach muscles. But they were mine. And I could never, ever seem to get enough of them.

Although these feelings are as real as real can be, I'm not saying I think we should have another one. In fact, I know it's right for us to be done. I honestly and truthfully feel incredibly peaceful about that (although at times Dave doesn't believe me...especially when I'm bawling about how much I love babies).

I just sometimes feel nostalgic for that time of life.

...until I look at the children my babies have become and that hollow feeling in my heart just fills right back in again.

It was lucky that in the midst of my pangs of baby-hunger I packed up the car and took my oldest two babies to BYU for tennis camp and EFY. (Remember this post? If you can believe it, the thrill of how much he loved it was even better than the exhilaration of getting him in.) We put Elle in tennis camp the same week and the two of them had been counting down the days all summer.
(excuse that iPhone picture...)

As I dropped them off I was overcome with how much I adored them. Max's giddy excitement cracked me up as he kept repeating over and over and over again how lucky he was that he got to go. He was so giddy that he even let me take that picture. Now that's saying something.

Elle was a little more apprehensive but still had stars in her eyes about being on a college campus and having her own dorm room, especially since she got to be with her good friend from home.
I blew her a kiss from here and got Max settled in next:

(Interesting to note that those guys are all older than him.)

(that was his roommate from our neighborhood here)

I heard from Elle every night. She had a rough start but ended up adoring her time there.

But this is all I heard from Max the whole time:
Yeah, he liked it.

A lot.

Here's Elle glowing when I came to pick her up at the end of the week:

And this is all I got from Max's pick-up...the sidewalk outside his dorm.
How did it happen so quick that my son is old enough to get sidewalk chalk messages from girls? :) (Yeah, it was for multiple boys but my baby was one of them.)

As we drove away my heart was spilling over with gratitude that I get to be a mom.

Their mom.

Yes, these big kids who have lost any trace of the baby-hood I once cherished.

I love to watch them "become."

I love that we can engage in conversations about how to live life and that they have their own thought-out opinions they can throw into the mix. I love that they are old enough they can explain to me how in the world to get a new app on my iPhone or how to make a slideshow on the computer.

I love how this summer I got to spend so much time with them.

We somehow lucked out and had the opportunity to have multiple "mom dates" where I took them one by one to lunch or out to get school clothes or just run to the grocery store. (That's what happens when you have three very capable babysitters of your own and there's no school to get in your way. See why I'm so mad school came and messed up the good stuff? :)

I love how Max likes to walk so close to me that he knocks into me over and over again in and out of stores.

I love how Elle dared Max to find a cute girl to sit behind in school and braid her hair.

I loved their laughing reaction when I rolled my eyes in mock disgust and begged him to please not do that! (But really, please don't...:)

I love how Claire cannot stop smiling when we're together.

I love how Grace does not forget anything and holds me to my promises.

I love that Lucy can finally understand delayed gratification a little bit more and has cut her tantrum time in half.

There is something magical about having a growing child. Your child. The way you know just what will cheer them up on a sad day. The way their eyes light up when you walk into their classroom. They way you can feel your hearts connect when you gather them in close and look into their eyes and tell them how much you adore them. And the way their eyes adore you right back. The way your heart feels like it just may burst out of you when you watch them sleep at night.

Sure, they are still trouble. Sure, I lay awake at night worrying about them and my heart aches perhaps more than theirs does when something goes wrong. They can be sassy and disobedient and I can see hints of defiant teenager-hood here and there. It's most certainly not all butterflies and rainbows.

But I can never, ever seem to get enough of them...the good and the bad.

Because I get to be their mother, for better or for worse.

I love who they are becoming.

Even though that "becoming" is leading me gradually away from the babyhood I will always adore and get homesick for.

In all my childhood-wishing-for-babies I never knew that what comes next is even better.
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