Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Certain Desperation

There is a certain desperation to motherhood.

A feeling that things are slipping away from you too quickly, too quietly.

It's like watching a movie, but you got distracted and missed a really good part, and the rewind button is broken, so you can't go back and watch it again.

Or, like eating a really fantastic dessert, and you look down and realize you just ate the last bite. But you didn't realize it was the last bite! You meant to savor it! And now it's gone.

It's drying your son off after bathtime one evening and realizing that somehow, his tummy is no longer todddler chubby. It's flat and big boy looking. The round, chubby tummy! It's gone! You meant to squeeze it and kiss it and poke it one more time. Come back chubby tummy!

It's getting your daughter dressed one morning and realizing that your favorite pink elephant sleeper outfit is too small. Not like, a little snug, but seriously, too small. It fit just a second ago! You loved her in that outfit! You just need her to wear it one more time!

Something inside me stretches out its arm and grasps, frantically reaching its fingers and closing on air. Because that version of them is already gone. Erased by their next transition, next discovery or growth spurt, next phase. Because they metamorphosis before my very eyes. Climbing into their crib cocoon at night and bursting forth in the morning- the same, but somehow, completely different.

People always say that the time goes by so fast with children. 'Enjoy it!' they say. "It goes by so quickly!" "It's all over so fast!"

But, we know that's not really true. Time doesn't move quickly or slowly, it just moves. Moves, ploddingly forward, at the same inexorable rate it always has. Time is constant. Trustworthy. Insistent. It's only our perception of it that changes.

Our moments now seem so much thicker, weightier. Dense with meaning, heavy and precious. Irreplaceable, unrepeatable.

Moments have become so much more valuable.  Or, what's more likely, is that they have always been this valuable, and I am only now realizing it.

So we begin to do what we could never imagine ourselves doing, before we had children. We sacrifice other responsibilities and relationships, soaking up as much of them as we can while they are still like this, hoping that if we just stare at them long enough, hold them long enough, sing and laugh and play with them long enough it will feel like enough. We fill photo albums and baby books, we make scrapbooks and write blog posts, we whip out our video camera to record moments both brilliant and mundane, so that we'll have something tangible to mark these days and years and moments. We tell stories about our children to friends and families, in the secret hope that they will remember with us, that they will be able to remind us in case we forget.

Because one day, these scraps of memories will be all that's left. Because Henry will leave for college. Because Maggie will one day be a mother herself. And with any luck, I will be left reading these silly posts, remembering the day that the pink elephant sleeper was too small, with a pang of longing and a wave of joy.


  1. Rachel, this is absolutely beautiful and you made me cry because this post my friend, is the truth. I miss that chubby tummy too and I find that no matter how many times I kiss his head and hold him close, its never enough...and I think it never will be.

  2. I love this Rachel...so true. Lucy is always talking about high school and college lately, and asking me when she will go to high school and college, and "when I'm 4 years old, am I going to high school I'm 4 years old?".
    It makes me laugh but also produce a great deal of anxiety and franticness inside me. Thankfully, we have convinced that she will only go to William and Mary. :)

  3. What a sweet post, to remind of the urgency to take advantage of what we have the here and the now...which can be hard when you've swept up those cheerios for the 4th time! Anyway, It reminded me of the book "Hold you longer" By Karen Kingsburry. You'll like it........


  4. Your posts usually have me laughing uncontrollably but this one predictably left me with teary eyes. Well done, B.E.E.

  5. Rachel, I'm a friend of Lauren and Justin's and got the site of your lovely blog from Lo. Just wanted to say this post put perfect words to my mama's heart (and own obsessive blogging tendencies!) Love reading about your sweet family, and suspect our kiddos would be fun friends (our Gray is nearing 2.5 and Benjamin is 5 months!) if they ever were to meet!