The struggle was real from the moment I woke today. We had to be up before the sun for an early doctor’s appointment 30 minutes away. You may be noticing a theme in my posts: we go to the doctor a LOT. I’m chalking this up to either the size of our household or the slim chance we’re hypochondriacs. I’m going to go with the size of our brood.
Our appointment went well; no waiting, friendly service, and Mar actually giggled through her blood draw. What kid, or grown-up for that matter, laughs when having a needle in their vein? She’s always been a tough cookie. Then we had to collect the urine sample and I was the designated cup holder. My daughter and I had never been in this situation before, and she once again giggled and said, “I can’t go. This is so weird.” In my world of parenting, holding a cup for my child to pee in may be one of the LEAST weird things I’ve encountered, so I assured her this is what moms do and tried to get her to relax. But she wasn’t kidding when she said she couldn’t go – she had total stage fright. So we waited. I tried to get her to think of running water, drinking a big glass of lemonade, and finally resorted to reminding her that I had my hand in a hospital toilet so could she please make something happen. She finally produced what was needed, told me she’d “never forget THAT experience,” and washed her hands – twice. We were on our way.
As we walked to the car after our appointment, we were holding hands and chatting about school starting in five days. What started as excitement about seeing her friends (and some silent personal excitement about my soon-to-be silent home) shifted to sadness as she squeezed my hand as tightly as her little hand could and looked up at me and said, “I’m going to miss you when I go back to school. I always do.” I believed her, because this little girl loves her mama. She may have a personal bubble that requires a top-level security clearance and extensive personality testing to permit entry for most others, but she LOVES her mama.
Her words made my eyes filled with happy/sad tears. My husband calls it “smying,” or smiling through your tears. That’s another thing – I’m a cryer. I often chalk this up to household size (and possible hormone or chemical imbalance) and the great number of emotions and opinions flying around our house at any given moment.
That’s exactly what was happening at home when we returned. This is not uncommon. As a matter of fact, almost any time I enter a room after being gone for any amount of time, I am greeted with rapid-fire information, questions, requests, and the “I’m soooo hungry” mantra. More often than not, when I leave the room my little ducklings follow so closely behind me that if I turn around too quickly I’m likely to step on their beaks. I don’t know if it was the early wake-up or the lack of caffeine or the fact that the teen squad had so much to say, but I just wasn’t up for it this morning. I had a couple of to-do list tasks that needed prompt attention, so after I knocked those out, I told the kids we’d put a pin in the questions and requests for about an hour and put myself in a 20-minute “mommy timeout.” Don’t judge me. Sometimes it’s necessary.
I tried to unwind for a moment as I scrolled through social media, briefly escaping the reality of the long day ahead. And that’s when I read this. It hit me like a ton of bricks – a ton of big, heavy, emotion-laden, guilt-infused bricks. This lady summed it all up for me in a way I could never say better.
Someday my flock won’t be following me around telling, asking, quacking and needing, and I’m going to miss it like crazy. There will be many “lasts,” and she’s absolutely right that we won’t know they’re the last until we look back wishing we could reverse the clock. My babies are all of self-showering age, so the hair washing is a thing of the past – mostly. Some nights I insist on washing and conditioning my baby girl’s hair just because I still can, and she’s always happy to oblige. And I’ll be honest and tell you that while I never want to see any of my children sick, I find my silver lining in the fact that it almost always equals extra cuddles with mom. I’ve already experienced many lasts with my kiddos, some more obvious than others, like last soccer games of senior year, prom, and graduation for my oldest.
Some of the less obvious ones are yet to be revealed. It will happen tomorrow or twenty years from now when I remember the last time I played on the floor with my kids or the last time one of them held my hand so tightly it left a print.
My timeout didn’t last 20 minutes. I snapped out of my funk, grabbed Mar’s hairbrush, and offered her some braids. She chose to have two, and then offered to do my hair. I ended up with a banana clip and a rhinestone studded hair comb, which may not be my best look, but it was relaxing. Mad was next. I swear she’ll never be too old to ask for her last braid, as she asks me almost nightly, but that’s a silly mom assumption, I suppose. Matthew even ended up with an Elvis-inspired hairdo, compliments of his doting sisters.
My lasts are numbered and unpredictable, but I still have plenty of firsts left, as well. Who knew I’d be holding a pee cup for one of my kids today? Not me, and that was definitely a first, at least with that child. While I hope the firsts I have left with my kids don’t all involve needles and bodily fluids, I do hope there are many more. Tonight was the first – and last – time I’ll ever take my son to his 7th grade open house. It was NOT the first or the last time I’ll look at him and wonder where my snuggly baby boy went. That’s the way it goes with parenting; one minute you’re praying for school to start and the next you’re praying time will freeze and your kids will stay just the way they are. I pray I have the wisdom, patience, and smiles to welcome all the firsts and lasts I have left with my babes and treasure them for the gifts they are.