“Mommy”. “Mommy”. “Mommy”. I hear the refrain again from the other room. Although I have been answering, “Yes?” the refrain continues unhindered. I have finally learned that this is my daughter’s way of requesting my presence in the room to be able to admire her most recent accomplishment. It might be a stacked up tower of toys or 20 stuffed animals lined up on the couch side by side, but whatever it is, she will gleam with pride and joy will burst out across her face. Some days I sigh as I stop my meal preparations and head into the room for the 28th time, wondering if we will be eating dinner at midnight with the back to back displays of wonder.
There was a time, not very long ago, when she didn’t address me as “mommy” and I longed to hear her call me by this exact title. Then somehow, she started saying “mommy” overnight and now I long for expanding moments of silence between the back to back requests for my attention. How will I ever get anything done?
Having become a parent for the first time in my late 30’s, I frequently consider the wisdom of having children when one is younger and perhaps has more energy, but I can also see how my 20 something self had a whole lot of growing up to do and I know I am a much better parent now because of that time to explore the world and grow. There will always be the pluses and minuses, but regardless, I am thankful to have this opportunity now, even if I don’t always make the most of it.
I hear the warnings a lot. “Time goes so fast”, “enjoy it”, “treasure these moments”. Sometimes I am in a place to be able to actually do that, but other times (many times), after 5 days of interrupted sleep, followed by an illness or two, followed by multiple tantrums of unusual size, I find myself in an emotional heap on the floor feeling like I can’t take one more moment of screaming and I’m not sure how to teach someone to deal with the disappointments of this world better than I do and wondering if I will even be able to make it to the end of the day. My daughter’s bids for attention and love are the most important opportunities in my day – these are the moments when I have the chance to show her that she is important, that she is loved and that what she thinks and feels is important. I don’t have to have the answer and yet just by responding to her, I create in her the confidence that she matters.
The reality is I don’t always make the most of these moments. Sometimes I am horribly impatient and I respond in frustration and anger, followed quickly by painful reflection where I cringe at myself and my lack of patience. So many opportunities unrealized, so many discoveries overlooked and so many precious moments missed. Parenting is really a heart wrenching and simultaneously glorious undertaking. The mother I believe myself to be and the mother that shows up in these tense moments are at odds with each other, but I intend to tip that scale fully in favor of the mother I know I can be. The patient, loving, wise mother who can get to the root of any given situation and move to exactly what is needed while remaining fully myself, trusting the strength and huge capacity of my child.