Mother, I see you. You are lying in bed while your little ones are up at 6 am.
You try to talk yourself into moving, but all you can think about is how you used to sleep in until at least 7:30 am. And how you sipped your hot coffee in peace. You think about how you read the headlines or moved through the morning slowly and savored the silence of a new day.
I see you as you shuffle through the day running children from place to place. And you seem to be on a never-ending hamster wheel. We call it school, extracurricular activities, grocery shopping, bed-time routine, baths, and midnight crying. Rinse. Repeat.
I see you staring at yourself in the mirror. You pull at your cellulite and belly flab. They give evidence of the life that grew inside of you. But they also serve as a continual reminder that your body will never be the same. A part of you longs for what used to be.
You see your not-so-perky breasts and ache for the time when they are yours again — and not the sole property of a tiny human being. You wish for a time to come.
I see you, mother and wife. As soon as the kids are sleeping, you want to spend time with your husband. But within minutes of sitting down, your eyes close. And you are down for the count.
I see you with your friends who are through the preschool stage of parenting. They have freedoms that seem unreachable. You can’t wait for the time when you can join them.
But I also see the look in the eyes of the 70-year-old woman who glances longingly at you, young mom. She says, “Cherish this time. It goes by so fast.” She sees how fulfilling the baths and the midnight cries and the early morning snuggles can be. After all, it’s better than being alone.
I see the eyes of the woman longing for a chance to get pregnant. She is years into her battle with infertility. She sees beauty in the cellulite, the saggy breasts, the soft belly.
I see the eyes of the little ones you pour into. They shine with the knowledge someone loves them, someone has their back, someone values them.
It’s okay to look back at what was. It’s okay to anticipate what the future holds. But cling fast to the honeyed present where life is as real as it gets.
Live fully in the tension, dear one. There’s beauty and growth and empathy when we don’t have everything we want. There’s peace and joy and fulfillment when we embrace the stage of life we are in and immerse our hearts in thankfulness.
Live fully in the gift of dirty dishes, snotty noses, bedtime snuggles, first words, homework triumphs and baby giggles. Our past is gone, our future is waiting, but our present is a present. Bask in it.