Have you ever experienced that when your kids get up in the morning and it’s like they are bigger than they were the night before?
Sometimes along this journey of motherhood I am honestly shocked by the ways my kids have grown and changed. When they were little, it was like I blinked and they looked different. Or they could do something they’d never done before. Or they had gotten a little bit (or a lotta bit) taller. But they were still little and still cute and still needed to be tended to on a daily, hourly, minute-to-minute basis.
But somehow, time has flown by and now I have all “big kids.” Those little people are bigger, more self-sufficient. Their growth spurts aren’t all necessarily physical, but emotional and psychological as well. They still need their mommy to love on them and care for them and do special things for them, but it’s honestly not the same.
And some days, like just this morning, I am hit like a ton of bricks by just how much it’s all changed.
The boys and their bedrooms
When they were little boys, before their youngest sister was born, our guys shared a bedroom. It was so cute! We had painted the walls blue and I stenciled cars and trucks and boats as a border all the way around the room. They had matching sheets and a cute little curtain. And every morning I’d go in to wake them up and get those amazing, warm, smooshy, sticky little boy snuggles.
Fast forward to now…
On early swim team mornings, I like to wake my boys up myself instead of having them set their alarms. It’s just a nice moment of honest-to-goodness taking care of them that I still get to do.
This morning, at 6:15, I quietly knocked on Josh’s door and walked in. There was my big 12 year-old, all curled up in his blankets with his ratty stuffed dog in the mix looking just like he did when he was 5. His room was mostly picked up as he’s a pretty neat kid. It’s a great room that really tells you who he is just by looking. I walked over, reached down to ruffle his hair and quietly said his name. Then this giant beast of a boy started to move. How could his feet possibly be that far down the length of the bed? How could his arms be so long as he stretched out? Then I heard a drowsy, “Morning, Mommy.” Oh, my heart.
Next, I left him and crossed the hall to Adam’s room. Whereas Josh and the girls sleep with their bedroom doors cracked open, the 15 year-old’s door is shut tight. After I knocked, I opened the door a crack and was hit by the smell of teenage boy. If you have a teenager, you’ll know exactly what I mean. If you don’t, think of a cross between sweat, dirty clothes, smelly shoes, morning breath, and hormones. And somehow, that all smells distinctly male. It’s hard to explain, but once you smell it, you know it.
I couldn’t see much of the room thanks to the black-out curtains covering his east-facing window, but I told the lump in the general direction of his bed that it was time to get up. The noise that came from the lump was a very low-pitched, guttural growl. Satisfied that I had sufficiently roused the beast, I went downstairs.
Who are these giant, smelly, big-footed, sunlight blocking, sleeping machines and what did they do with my little boys?
Clothes and a 4th grade girl
Up until about a year ago, I was able to pick out absolutely any shirts, shorts, skirts, dresses, you name it for my Leah and she loved it. I would go shopping without her, put together these adorable mix ‘n match outfits at Gymboree or Target or something and she would wear them happily.
Now, not so much.
Now, I don’t dare buy anything without getting her seal of approval first. She has her very own special fashion sense that is not really (not at all) what I would pick for her. She puts outfits together and comes down the stairs in the morning almost daring me to tell her to go and change. And about 30% of the time, that’s exactly what I do. We are having to learn by experience the mother-daughter dance that is personal style.
This morning’s number of outfit changes was a very respectable 2. She usually gets 3 chances before Mom goes upstairs and does the choosing for her. Those are pleasant mornings, for sure! Not.
You see, it’s her job to forge her own way into what she thinks looks good on herself and to express herself by what she wears. It’s my job to make sure she’s not crossing too many lines per outfit and that what she chooses is in keeping with our family’s values and her dignity as a daughter of God.
I tell you, it’s enough for me to approach our local school board and beg for uniforms!
Picking up Lucy
As of her well-child visit at the pediatrician last month, our 6 year-old, our baby girl, was exactly 4 feet tall. Four. feet. tall. Exactly two feet and three inches taller than she was the first time I picked her up and held her in my arms.
This morning, I was standing in the kitchen when she came down the stairs. She sleepily shuffled over to me, wrapped her arms around my hips, and laid her head on my belly. The top of her head rests just under my heart. How appropriate is that?
She looked up at me, her big brown eyes behind her purple glasses, and said, “Pick me up, Mama.”
So, I gripped her underneath her armpits, bent my knees, counted to three and up she jumped. All 50 pounds of her. She wrapped her arms around my neck and laid her head on my shoulder. Her legs wrapped around my waist and her feet hung down almost to my knees.
How had my baby gotten so big?
Then it hit me. I wonder when the last time I’ll actually pick her up and hold her will be? How many more times do I get to feel those scrawny arms hanging over my shoulders? How long will it be before she’s too tall or just weighs too much for her old mom to handle? Not enough time and all too soon…those are the answers.
Too much for one morning!
So, all of this had gone down and it wasn’t even 8:00 am yet! It was too much! My mama-heart just couldn’t take it.
My heart simultaneously ached and burst with pride at how grown and big and beautiful and amazing they all are. I grew each and every one of them from scratch and just look how phenomenal and infuriating and brilliant they are! I sat down on a stool at the counter, looked into my coffee, and breathed a small prayer that I will be able to change and grow along with them. That in each stage I’ll be able to provide what they need from me. Because let’s be real, the only way I’m going to be able to do this is with the grace of the God who, in His own time and His own way, are making them into these truly awesome humans in the first place.
When Greg finally made it downstairs to leave for work, he innocently asked how I was doing. Poor unsuspecting man.
I walked over, laid my head on his chest, took his arms and wrapped them around me and said, “I’m not ready for all these big kids! They’re really challenging me today.”
Ready or not, though, here they come. And what a wild ride it’s going to be.