I was a mother for 23 years. Like all mothers before and after me, I learned to breastfeed and wash strange stains from baby clothes. I learned to heat baby food and make spoon-airplane noises. I thrilled at roll-overs and stand-alones and first steps. I foolishly taught my sons to run, read, and dress themselves. Now look where that has gotten me.
I sit in a very quiet house now. Twenty years ago, I would have paid good damned money for this much quiet, but this breezy summer afternoon, I miss the giggles and the happy shrieks of my sons being squirted with a hose. I miss the bloody knees and the salty tears and the “kiss it betters.” I miss the late night climbs into my bed, “just for a minute.” I miss the arguing, the fussing, the crying, and the whining. Yes, I even miss the whining right now. Last night, I had a very vivid dream that I was pushing an empty stroller around an amusement park. It was very handy, because it held my purse and stuff, but as I was pushing it, I became aware that it was missing something. I began to look for my babies. Standing in the middle of the lights and the rushing crowds, I panicked; then I remembered that they were grown. I stood in the middle of the park and cried.
So this morning, I watched the videos. I made videos for each son for graduation, videos chronicling their lives from newborn to 18. I watched them again today, wanting for five minutes to wallow in self-pity. Five minutes. In five minutes of video, they grew. In five minutes of real life, seemingly, they grew. I blinked, and my motherness had disappeared.
Twenty years ago, I thought the days of dirty diapers and ear infections were hell. I was ready to end that relationship once and for all on some level. It may have been riddled with moments of torment, but my relationship with motherhood was deep, sacred, and possibly co-dependent. I realize now how fleeting the passion of motherhood really is. It’s a lover that just leaves one day for groceries and never returns. And here I am, left to say things like, “I just want you to be happy…” and “It’s me, isn’t it?” And it is me. I got old. Motherhood traded me in for a younger model.
I will be a grandmother any day now, and soon I will push a stroller again. This time, it’s a badass jogging stroller with awesome off-road wheels, one I could never have afforded 23 years ago. I would like to think that Baby Wesley’s arrival will fill my void a bit, but the truth is, I miss being a mom, and in particular I miss Jake and Logan being my babies. People go on about the greatness of grandparenting, and I’m sure it will be fantastic, but being a mother was fantastic. Being a mother, with all the selfishness of saying, “That one’s mine. Yes, he is cute. Yes, he is talented. Thank you,” was amazing.