A Personal Note on Mother's Day
|Andrea and I, 1999|
Being a mother means everything changes. My identity can no longer exist autonomously. There are still “Beth” things that I carefully preserve as much as I can; I treasure and pursue adventure and travel, I create art and love to dance (even if I’m not so great at it). I have not lost myself in this process, but I have changed. Art happens with my kids or when they are in bed. Travel plans include extra suitcases and kid-friendly restaurants or carefully-laid childcare schedules and contingencies. Dancing often happens in the kitchen with giggling, twirling little ones and groaning teens who laugh at how uncool I am.
|My kids and I in the tulips, 2012|
Being a mom is the hardest and least glamorous experience I can imagine. It is terribly messy, and at some point you find yourself wiping noses with your clothing or reaching bare-handed to catch vomit and wonder what happened to your self-respect. My body will forever remind me that it carried four babies in my uterus and on my hips. Sleep is a luxury and so is sitting for an entire meal. I simultaneously look forward to and dread the day when my children are grown and gone. An unimaginable future when I do not have to feed, clothe and clean up after someone else, but also have no one to check on before heading to bed. I love you will be said via text or over the phone, and not accompanied by tight squeezes or a kiss on the cheek.
I have an interesting spread of ages and stages in my children right now. I am overwhelmed and most days I’m just surviving the ride and trying to get dinner on the table and drive people to where they are supposed to be. My oldest is preparing to graduate from high school and move away for college. We are navigating cap and gown and scholarship applications, apartment hunting and imparting knowledge of grocery shopping and bill paying. I am terrified and excited for the both of us. I have spent more than half my life with this amazing person and am so proud of her. I will miss her and my heart already hurts thinking of my day-to-day with her gone to start her own adventure.
|My babies, 2012|
My youngest is in kindergarten. We are homeschooling though an online program and I watch her blossom as the letters turn into words and stories on the pages we read together. She is sassy and independent, but often still crawls into my lap to snuggle. My other little one is in first grade and battles his own body every day. It drives me nuts yet I am sad for him as he desperately tries to “be good’ even when his mouth can’t stop talking and his body can’t stop moving. He is bright and creative and so sweet and loving.
I sweep crumbs after every meal, negotiate dessert, and remind kids to pick up toys a hundred times a day, but I am finally sleeping through the night most nights without children waking me with bad dreams or other excuses. Although many mornings there is a tiny body pressed up against mine and hot breath in my ear.
I still tuck my kids in at night. Every so often my older ones have a locked door and I whisper my love and prayers through the crack in the door into the still of the darkness. Every waking hour is consumed with thoughts of them flitting through my mind. Being a mother to these four precious children is a part of every fiber of my existence and I would not want it any other way.