I’ve never been afraid of getting older. 30 came and went, and I honestly forget regularly if I’m 31 or 32….or 33? I loved being in Aggieland, but was excited to graduate, too. I enjoyed a career, but now love staying home with our babies. Not that any stage of life is without its difficulties, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of them. I’ve never looked back and wondered where the heck the time went.
And then came Gentry. My fourth baby. My fourth and final baby. I laid eyes on that gorgeous 8 lb 5 oz of perfection and all of a sudden, I’m panicked. I can’t believe I will never create another life. I can’t believe another heart will never beat in my belly or live because I live. It’s completely overwhelming to me that this stage of my life is over with. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a whole slew of reasons why 4 is our number….from my refusal to drive anything bigger than my Suburban to my fear of not having enough attention to go around. Not to mention, I’d sure like my husband to be able to retire before he’s 95. I’m excited about the soccer games and gymnastics and hunting and fishing that is to come as the kids grow, but all of a sudden, I realize it won’t be like this forever.
They’re growing up right in front of my eyes. My once helpless babies are starting to think and act on their own. And sooner than later, I won’t have to remind anyone to get their shoes or carry a change of clothes in my Mary Poppins bag. Someday, Nerf guns and cartoon pajamas won’t solve all the world’s problems. The little humans that right now think I hung the moon will all of a sudden know everything and be embarrassed when I kiss them in front of their friends. (But don’t you think for a second that will keep me from doing it!) And then before I know it, my Suburban will have empty back seats and I won’t be rushing to baseball or softball practice.
For the first time in my life, I see how fast time really is passing by. I see how much has changed in the 8 years since I became a Mama and how much will change in the next 8 years. I see how much I don’t want to miss and what I want to do better. I’m less focused on this post-partum belly this go round and more focused on enjoying this tiny, perfect, God-given creation. I’m looking my kids in the eyes more and at my cell phone screen less. I’m going to have more fun and clean less. And on the days, I get stressed and I’m tired and I’m tempted to duct tape one…or all….of them to the wall (ok, not really…but sort of), I’m going to reread this post to remind myself that nothing is more important than my family.
The other side of this is that one day, not too far down the road, it will just be Jay and me. We won’t have all the distractions and the kid-centered schedules. We’ll have grown up conversations without interruptions. We’ll go to quiet restaurants where no one spills and travel whenever we want. We might even sleep in again someday! So it’s also a huge reminder to me, that amidst all the outpouring of love for my babies, it’s so important to simultaneously nourish my marriage. It’s important to set aside the chaos and carve out some time just for us. It’s important to listen, to really listen, to my husband when he tells me about his day and to tell him about mine. That way, when we’re 85 and rocking next to eachother on the front porch, we still know one another. It’s important that we have fun together and enjoy one another’s company. Just as it’s important that when I’m doling out bedtime kisses every night, I make sure he gets one too. We’ve created this whole crazy, chaotic, beautiful life that we love, and it’s vital we remain partners through it all.
At the end of the day, we’ll always be our kids’ Mama and Daddy, but our job as a parents is to work ourselves right out of positions that we love. Aaron Watson said it just right….”Hold ‘em tender, hold ‘em tight. Pray every morning, day and night that God will help you raise them right. And don’t you blink…because like bluebonnets in the spring, we’re only here for a little while. It’s beautiful and bittersweet, so make the most of every mile. Pack light and love heavy, give it all your heart and soul, so in the end, you won’t regret one thing. Life is like bluebonnets in the spring.”