It seems to me that growing older is a study in mixed emotions. Even more so when you are a mom. As if to prove this point, these past few weeks have been jam packed with nothing but mixed emotions for me.
First, as I mentioned in my previous post, we recently moved. Despite my excitement about moving into our new house, it was a bittersweet experience to leave behind the home where we became a family. As I packed up, I kept coming across symbols of all that we had gained, and lost, during the seven years that we lived in that home. I found the LiveStrong bracelets from when my mom was sick. The piles of cards sent by friends to help us see the love that remained when she died. The bills from medical treatments we endured as we tried to become a family. The paperwork that contained the very first picture we ever saw of our beautiful baby boy, half a world away. The three positive pregnancy tests which announced that our baby girl was about to come into our lives. Seven years seems like such a short time and yet the young couple who moved into that home would barely recognize the family that left it. So many memories built in one little house.
As soon as we moved into our new home, Kasia began meeting some developmental milestones. Most recently, she began rolling over (go, Kasia, go!). We all cheered her on as she twisted and contorted her little body until she got it to finally flip over. I am amazed that I am just as thrilled to watch Kasia learn new skills as I was to watch James do the same. I thought perhaps it would be different with the second child (been there, done that), but it’s not. Every new milestone fills me with joy. But with each one, I am also startlingly aware of how quickly time is passing us by. I’m already starting to lose my tiny newborn baby girl. So I hold her a little more tightly because I know it will be gone all too soon.
James has also hit a new “milestone,” this fall. At almost 5 years old, he’ll no longer kiss or hug me goodbye in front of his friends (I’ve learned to get my snuggles in the car before we go into 4K) and he has even cried when I’ve come to pick him up because he wants to stay and play with his friends. I am, of course, delighted that he loves his school and his friends. He’s figuring out who he is and is beginning the slow process of separation from me. It’s his job to do, and it’s mine to let him do it. But oh how I miss the days when I was his whole world and he ran to me with open arms and a huge smile after a long day apart.
I’m also back to work three days a week, and Kasia is doing so well at her new daycare. I really like my job and I am truly a better mom when I work. I take great pleasure in being able to help the children and families that I serve as a speech therapist and I love to immerse myself in the work that I do. And as strange as it sounds, I sometimes need time away from my children to help me recognize how much I enjoy being with them. So I am glad I’ve returned to work. And yet my heart breaks just a little each time I have to kiss Kasia’s sweet baby cheeks good-bye. I still feel like she is an extension of me and every minute away from her seems a little bit wrong.
And, of course, the holidays are upon us once again. We celebrated Thanksgiving with my dad and my step-family, among others. It was a wonderful weekend; we ate and played and talked. After 5 years of my mom being gone, I finally feel like I can enjoy this new normal with this new family. I love our step-family and am eager to continue to explore and establish these relationships. Nonetheless, there will always be a small part of me that desperately wishes for my mom to suddenly walk down the stairs of my childhood home, envelop me in a hug, and sit down to play with the grandchildren that she’s never met.
So many feelings, so little time. Somehow it seems like it should all be clear cut, with each moment only containing pure joy or sorrow. Motherhood should be either easy or hard; either happy or sad. Instead, it’s full of bittersweets and grey areas. But I guess that’s what makes it the grand adventure that it is. :)