by Rachel Biggerstaff
Next week, I’ll be taking my older daughter to an event that we’ve been anxiously awaiting for quite a while: Kindergarten Round-Up. This idea conjures images in my mind of teachers and administrators lassoing all of the children and corralling them into a pen like so many cattle. The kids will be screaming for their mommies and weeping as the teachers take them away and say to the parents, “You can have them back when they graduate high school.”
I know it won’t be anything like this, though. It’ll be even worse. My child will want to go to Kindergarten. She talks about it every. single. day. She will have a magical teacher who will make every day fun. She will come home with stories about the funny kid that she sat next to at lunch, how she was very brave at recess and went down the big slide a million times, and how she can’t wait to go back the next day. My heart will break because I’ll know that she is doing her own thing every day, and I’m not going to be a real part of it. For the first time she will make her own friends (not just my friends’ kids), and she will have to make a great deal more decisions for herself on a daily, even hourly basis. And yet, I am so excited for her to begin this journey. I can’t wait to see who the kids are she chooses as friends, what her favorite subject will be, and if she will love learning to read and write like I did when I was her age.
I’m learning that this is the dilemma of motherhood. This excitement mixed with fear and uncertainty. The desire to let your children become independent and self-sufficient while suppressing the overwhelming urge to protect them and make everything okay.
The journey to motherhood was quite long for me. My mom was a young mom, and I can still remember her youthful energy and beauty when I was small. I wanted to be a young mom, too. I married right out of college, and we had big plans for a family that we started trying for not long after the wedding. Years went by and while I distracted myself with hours a day of books and internet research about infertility, I missed the fact that the marriage was crumbling and the issues were greater than the inability to get pregnant.
Fast forward eight years from my first wedding, and there I was saying “I do” in my parents’ backyard to a precious man who made every struggle and setback worth the wait. We were both in our thirties by the time we wed, with a clearer and more mature view on love and family. My dreams had vanished of becoming that really young mom, but I had a new dream of becoming a family with the right man, and a realization that it didn’t matter if my kids had the “young” mom, because they would have a mother loved by their father and a clearer view of what’s really important in life.
Two years after we were married, our first child was born; a blond, brown-eyed girl who is smart, gentle and kind. Her little sister came along two and a half years after that and has the same blond hair and brown eyes, but a personality the size of Texas and the sassy attitude to go with it. They are both amazing and beautiful, yet they can both drive me to the brink of insanity. Ah, motherhood.
I waited and waited all of those years to become a mother and have a family, but now I look at how quickly the days fly by. Suddenly I have one kid off to Kindergarten in the fall and another who is speaking in full sentences and asking to use the potty and sleep in a big bed. What happened to my babies? Yet in the same moment that I yearn for them to stay little, I get to the end of a long day of toddler tantrums and preschool drama and think to myself that I cannot wait until these short humans are in school and I can have some time to myself to read a book, drink a cup of coffee while it’s still hot, or go to the salon and get these stupid grey roots covered up. Oh, the things I would do with some time alone.
That’s motherhood … happy, sad, fun, laborious, slow, fast, overwhelming and underwhelming. All the feels. Usually in one day.
But I wouldn’t trade it for the world (or even a hot cup of coffee).
Happy Mother’s Day!