She spends 9 years as a Mother but then

My almost three year old is lying in my arms. She’s my very last baby and I feel her aging acutely. We are on the master bed watching Sesame Street. She’s singing along with Elmo.  And clapping. 

“What’s the letter of the day?” *clap clap*

And she’s completely naked. 

Her fine blond hair is thickening. And curling. Her body is lengthening. Baby fat is gone. A few mosquito bites dot her thighs. Her bathing suit tan lines show how much time she’s spent playing outside this summer.  

Oh my God. She looks like a preschooler!

Now she’s laughing at Grover. 

Real sadness is foreign to her. Her older siblings dote on her every move. She falls? At least two other people swarm her with love and kisses before mommy even blinks. I haven’t lifted her from her crib in the mornings since school ended because her siblings always get to her first. 

Now she’s somersaulting across my legs. 

She knows nothing of heaven nor hell. She knows nothing of life. Nothing of what lies spread before her. 
The social angst of adolescence. The struggle of achieving academically in high school. The apprehension of choosing a college. The exhilaration of a first kiss. The soul-blinding chest squeeze of true loss. The fierce competition of the workforce. 
Beauty. Self-doubt. Marriage. Divorce. Religion. Government. Employment. Taxes. 

She’s just in the moment. 

Laughing. And naked. 

I do what I can to protect her. Shelter her even. Give her a happy childhood to reflect back on when life finally dumps on her. But my time is limited. 

Watching her age is different than when my eldest was this age. I’ve had time to reflect. Practice. Change my style. Correct mistakes (Sorry, Jack). The journey through our parenting years is certainly a soul-shaping mind-bender. 

Yet, after 9 years as a mom, I still don’t know if I’m doing the right things. Sit and talk with adults and many of them either have strained relationships with their parents or none at all due to some issue the offspring has with the way they were raised. What if that happens to me?

So I still feel inadequate at times. 

An imposter in the game of motherhood. 

How do I instill in her everything she needs to be a successful adult?

Even worse, how do I face myself when she is an adult dealing with issues I failed to address during her childhood?

Surely someone else is far more equipped than I to raise this tiny human, so full of happiness and light. 

The pressure not to screw her up bubbles like a lidded pot on high.

Echoes of Innocence

The clock read 6:11 pm.

We were propped up on the pillows of our king sized bed.
Just Maggie and I.
We were eating bacon cheeseburgers her daddy grilled. And she was reading Charlotte’s Web aloud. I love being read to and never thought I’d be so fascinated listening to my six year old daughter’s hilarious fluency in relaying the antics of Fern and her beloved runt of a pig! I hear my mother in her voice. It’s soft. And loving. Echoes of innocence from my own childhood.
A few pages into the next chapter, she paused between paragraphs and looked up.

“Mommy? You remember the time it was just me and you and we talked all about our bodies? That was fun!”
“Yes, baby. Do you have more questions?”
“Yes.”
“Ok. When we wash your hair in a little bit we can do that again. And as you grow, I hope you will always feel good about asking mommy anything. I promise to always listen to you.”
“Oh boy! I can’t wait! And we can sing our special songs together too!” She snuggled in closer to me, looked back at her page and returned to the world of Wilbur and Charlotte.

Before bed, we had our promised bath time.
Just Maggie and I.
As I suds up her hair we sung “The Maggie Song” as we call it.
And her brothers songs too.
She even made one up for her daddy.
About how good he is.
And how he cooks us food.
She asked how did people come into existence.
And were dinosaurs real.
She asked of God and evolution.
And what do I believe.
About things long long ago.
She asked why do we feel pain.
And why do we have blood.

And after her questions were exhausted, I soaped up her back and wrote a note on her skin, a game my own mother use to play with me.

I told her to guess each letter as it was traced.

I. L. O. V. E. M. A. G. G. I. E.

And she did.

Four year old asks, “Is Superman Real?”

Yesterday, we all watched Superman I from the ’70s (Christopher Reeves version). Right now we are watching Superman III.

All four kids are on top of me.
Not sure how.

In less than three weeks my third child, Caleb, will turn 5 years old. Old Father Time is certainly staring over my shoulder at this golden hair child who has already completed two seasons of U8 soccer and two summers of Swim Team. He currently spends his days happily doing backflips on the trampoline, beating his highest score on Temple Run, performing stunts on the playground, playing basketball with his older brother and thinking of abstract questions such as “Do dreams exist only in your brain?”

But right now he’s sucking his thumb and twirling his night night blankie as we watch the movie together. And I suddenly remember that he’s only existed on earth for four years.

All of the kids are entrenched in the scene where a little boy has fainted in the tall wheat field. But, danger! Threshers are speeding towards him! The driver can’t see the collapsed child!

At the last second, Superman arrives, stops the machine mere feet from the child, scoops him up and flies away.

Caleb, snuggled against my side, pulls his thumb from his mouth and glances up. His eyes are a rich chocolate brown, much darker and rounder than my other children.

“Mom, is Superman real in this world?” he asks slowly.

The way he pieces his sentences together always warms me. His voice, so cute. Young. Melodic. My other children have their own talents, but Caleb’s linguistic grasp of English makes me wonder if he will be a renown orator someday. Or perhaps a writer. Funny how we parlay our own hopes and dreams on the imagined future of tiny humans, as if we had any real say in their intricate life stories.

“No baby….. he’s not.” I push his blond surfer bangs from his eyesbrows, noting yet again that I need to get them trimmed. Actually, all four kids need haircuts. And Kevin just asked me yesterday to cut his.

“I wish he was.” Caleb replied, in a voice that sounded sad. Wistful. Ancient. And then popped his thumb back in his mouth, picked up the fuzzy edge of his night night with his other hand and began to stroke it slowly over his cheek.