My baby girl will be three in October. She’s into Pixar movies and puzzles and loves singing “Amazing Grace” with her pretend microphone. She’s mostly introverted. She’s already a Type A, and she’s growing more independent every day. She’s becoming a little lady right before my eyes, and it makes me weepy to see how much she’s changing.
The other day, I was going through her baby clothes to pass them on to a friend. I held the onesies and headbands she had worn and sobbed. I could imagine her chubby face and big eyes but no smile. I sobbed that she wasn’t a baby anymore, but more than that, I sobbed because the lack of her smile in that memory summed up those early days of motherhood. They were hard and depressing. There was a lot of crying from both of us, a lot of misunderstanding her needs, and a lot of losing my sanity. Ten minutes seemed like hours during those days, and I dreaded going to sleep and waking up. It felt hopeless. I struggled to find purpose and joy in motherhood and resigned to believe that my life would stay that way forever.
I didn’t know then that life happens in seasons, that motherhood happens in seasons. Each season has its problems and triumphs, but each one also comes to an end. The transitions from one to the next happen outside of our control and sometimes without warning, and we constantly live in the tension of longing for the next season and mourning the last one.
I look at my little lady, and I’m happy and sad at the same time. I enjoy seeing her grow up and wish I could stop it. I long for more time to myself, but I know that she won’t ask me to play with her for much longer. I don’t want to be needed so much, but I know that kisses for her owies and cuddles when she’s sick won’t be needed soon. I get sad that I won’t be able to hold her as she gets bigger and that once the present passes there’s no returning to it.
My heart aches at the thought of it. I wish I could go back to those onesie days and love her better. I wish I could’ve known that those long, hard days were only temporary. I wish I could’ve enjoyed that time more. But even though I know seasons will come and go, I still struggle to be present. I still long for the hours in the day to fly by. I still long for the day when things will be quieter. And if I’m not careful, I’ll miss what’s right in front of me- the moments that seem mundane but are full of life. I’ll miss the work that God is doing in my heart- the honing and shaping of my character through the daily work of motherhood. I’ll miss seeing Christ in the tension of mourning the past season and longing for the next one.
I don’t want to miss the present. I don’t want to miss out on my little lady growing up today. I don’t want to be so consumed with what’s not and miss what God is doing now. I want to move through the seasons of motherhood and life with grace and be shaped by them to be more like Christ. I want to know more of what it means for Christ to be my Sustainer and my Reward as a mom. I want to learn the art of experiencing grief and joy and longing all at the same time and to honor each feeling as valid. I want to remember that “the days are long, but the years are short” and to have the right perspective when I’m struggling to parent well.
Seasons are meant to shape us and to remind us that this life is temporary. Walking through them helps us look up and move forward when things get difficult, and we learn that motherhood isn’t just a long straight desert road. It’s a winding river that’s full of life, surprises and joy.