I mentioned last month that my daughter recently turned twelve.  And now, as I write this, my son has turned sixteen.  My head is spinning with the numbers.  My heart is at once full and on the brink of breaking.  Lately, I find myself yearning for little fingers curled around mine and reaching arms that request holding.  I find myself pining for Legos strewn across the floor and reading Goodnight Moon five times in a row.  I am deep in nostalgia for the early days.


I’ve not forgotten the struggles of the early days and years, mind you.  I remember well the exhaustion and uncertainty and frustration.  I hope I always remember how hard parts of those early years were, because I want always to be a support to other young mothers, not glossing over or diminishing any of it.  I want to remember what it is to be real.  Motherhood is glorious.  Motherhood is damn hard.


So, yes, I remember the struggles.  But the sweetness and innocence of those days stay with me too, soften the edges of years of interrupted sleep, round out the uncertainty of how to do this, that, the other.  The sweet parts are highlighted in memory…the cuddles and easy contentment, the fierce curiosity, the Legos and wooden blocks on the family room floor, the hikes with someone on my back.  And most of all, the unconditional love which flowed between parent and child from the very first minute.


The sweet bits have always been shaped by the challenges, one informing the other.  I would not appreciate the incredible sweetness in the same way if I’d never stayed bedside with a feverish child, if I’d never dealt with the challenges to authority (which intensify with age), if I’d never cried with fatigue and frustration.  All these disparate parts fall onto the sheet and become song.


I want to remember our song.  The crescendos and diminuendos, the melody and harmony, the occasional dissonance, the time signature.  Time is a funny thing.  In the middle of the night, it can seem fearfully long; on your child’s sixteenth birthday, it can seem frightfully short.


Like a symphony piece that moves through its movements, so too my children and I.  There is some amount of ease and difficulty in each phrase, each movement, each piece of our song.  I will hold closely the parts that come easily and the parts through which we struggle.  I will trust in the love that has guided us from day one until this one, and continues to guide us until the next.  Even on the days with tears (because I still cry sometimes in frustration), I will listen to our song.  And, as best I can, I will sing along.


From me to you, here and now…