I just turned 50 in October. (I’ll pause while the clapping subsides.) My children have left my nest and gone to a far off land (Texas). For some reason, these two events have culminated in an urge to memorialize my journey of motherhood, in case I forget. Because I just turned 50. These memories will be in random order, as the majority of my memories are these days. Because I just turned 50.
I remember…that I didn’t want to leave the hospital after my daughter was born, because it meant I would be responsible for this very little person. Plants do not live long in my house, so I was skeptical about my daughter’s chances. Fortunately, very small people are much better than plants at survival.
I remember…the sensation of a child kicking in my stomach, and never feeling more like a woman, before or since.
I remember…the smell of my baby’s neck…possibly the sweetest smell on earth.
I remember…cuddling with my son, knowing how sad I would be when the day came when he would no longer need me that way. The day came and went. I was right.
I remember…somewhere along the way I developed my “calm voice”, because it was the only voice my highly emotional and dramatic daughter would respond to. It usually worked, but not always. I would then revert to yelling, which rarely worked, but usually resulted in a moment of satisfaction at the stunned, almost frightened look on her face. A brief moment, that I cherished.
I remember…singing both of my kids to sleep with “Puff the Magic Dragon”, of which I only knew one verse, and I’m not even sure I had the words right. I sang that one verse over and over. They didn’t care. Sometimes, to ease the ache, I find myself humming that familiar tune.
I remember…my daughter’s inability to go ask for more ketchup when we were at a fast food restaurant, so my son (3 years younger) did it for her. She’s much braver now.
I remember…the sound of my son’s world from the moment he woke up until he fell asleep again. Never ending sounds of cars, trucks, trains and planes as he made his matchbox vehicles come to life, complete with crashing sounds (because what’s the point of a car that doesn’t crash?). The sounds are faint now, but still there.
I remember…longing for a quiet house, and now hating that quiet.
I remember…the sound of their friends…girls upstairs in my daughter’s room, giggling, squealing, whispering. Boys downstairs…yelling, laughing, eating (never whispering). Me, sitting at the computer, smiling at the sounds of life in my house.
I remember…the knot in my stomach (that has never quite gone away) that arrived at the same time as the first driver’s license.
I remember…a cold rag always made them feel better when they were sick or hurt. They didn’t know that it was all I knew to do for them.
I remember…getting up in the middle of the night, going into their room and watching them sleep. They were teenagers. The wonder of it never left.
I remember…the day each of them left home, waiting until they were gone to have my emotional breakdown because I needed them to leave without guilt.
I remember…my son’s sick-to-his-stomach excitement on Christmas Eve. Last year. He was 20.
I remember…the almost overwhelming excitement of my kids’ stepping into their future as adults, at the same time feeling just as overwhelmed with sadness that they were stepping out of their past, on their own, without me.
I remember…that my kids are healthy, strong, brave, and have hearts that are running hard after God. And then I remember that He was there through it all…loving them, protecting them, and making sure they didn’t go the way of so many houseplants.
There’s so much more. So many moments, sounds, smells that come upon me out of nowhere. Sometimes I smile, sometimes I cry, and sometimes I tell God I’m sorry.
But mostly, I thank Him for the memories.