Tuesday, January 12, 2016
A Mother's Panic Attack
I don't know what it is. Maybe the turning of another calendar year, the sentiments brought up by Christmas, potty training my baby and not changing a diaper for the first time in almost 9 years, or just Facebook memories, but for the past little while I've been confronted with the shocking realization that my kids are no longer babies and it's throwing me for a loop.
My 5 children were born in less than six years. I'm not just repeating this fact to shock and awe or remind myself because even I still can't believe it sometimes, but to emphasize how deeply, deeply entrenched in the trenches of new motherhood I was. There was always another baby, there was always more than one toddler, sometimes three. I can still honestly swear that I just couldn't even imagine a time where they would be even semi-independent from me. I would go from changing a diaper to changing a diaper to changing a diaper.
But now my older kids are just....kids. They're still young, precious, innocent, and sweet children, which I love and relish. But when I look back at pictures of a couch full of toddlers and toddlers holding their newborn siblings and realize that they'll never be that small again, that I'll never have just small kids again and it breaks my heart a little bit and I'm not sure why.
I've definitely not wished away their small children-ness even though I would have given my eye teeth for a whole nights sleep or the ability for one or two to put on their own mittens. I know I've lived their childhood with them fairly well, enjoying as much as possible their stages and growth, I have no regrets that I didn't savour each baby stage and wish them to the next quicker and neither do I regret the long days where I was more frustrated than doe-eyed at the sight of their patty-cakes.
And yet just thinking these thoughts brought on an almost panic attack feeling last night as I lay in bed. My throat chocked up, the heavy feeling pushed down on my chest, tears at just the thought of old pictures of my big kids as little toddlers.
It's not as if they're applying for colleges! I know! I feel like I'm becoming the classic, stereotypical mother who laments as her children grow older, but I just can't help it. I've been so attuned to their stages and growth, most of the time celebrating their little steps towards independence and accomplishment, maybe this it just the normal realization of change finally catching up to me who is normally immune to such emotional dithers?
I know I'm also not mourning the loss of a "season". I still have small toddlers! I have no plans to never have children again - the thing with this open to life business is that we don't choose or make or even plan how our "seasons" of life will come and go, which is pretty hard to wrap our minds around.
It surprises me how much I feel just plain sad and heartbroken about change when at the same time I'm also really happy and encouraged in a way. I think it's almost as if there's this heart breaking and heart healing happening at the same time.
I know I think, and wish, and feel as if time, and my children, and motherhood reached a high point and just stayed that way - cemented where I wanted it to be, where it felt just right. But the reality is that motherhood and children and family is a constant thing, we're living in this stream of life and love that can't be bottled or stopped. Even though we think it'd be perfect -- it would really only be a puddle.
This heart breaking is probably a good thing. I'm probably beginning to realize and be grateful for how things were (however imperfect), how things are (flying by fast but still oh-so-sweet), and how things will be (probably imperfect and sweet). The heart breaking and heart healing is the way of motherhood.
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