Monday, July 14, 2014

Only A Mama Knows

On the crisp white edges of an extremely rare mid-day nap, I fell out of Sleepy and Restful Dreamland and was made aware of a reality that frightens me: my son is growing up fast.

My suddenly-wakeful mind watched slow motion picture reels of eight years of mommy bliss and mommy prayers and mommy worries and mommy cuddles.  Who knows why this moment chose me, but it did, and I watched the pictures float up and by.

Eight years old.  My son is eight?  When did this happen?  How did I so quickly go from holding sweet coos close to my ear to encouraging flips off a diving board?  Because time passes ... and it passes quickly, not waiting for you to take notice; it is impartial to what you do with it.

Photo found: http://www.gannett-cdn.com/

There are some things that only a mama knows.

Only a mama knows the exact shape and feeling of her unborn child, warm and utterly safe in her womb.  Only she knows the comfort it brings her to hold such a high calling, and to nurture a sweet miracle, the miracle of all miracles.  Only a mama knows that feeling of looking at her just-born baby and knowing that Love has materialized.  And she knows that feeling twelve hours later of wishing her baby was back in the safe womb, where she knew he was okay, where the world couldn't hurt him.

Only a mama knows those early morning eyes that stare right out of the crib looking for you.  She can tell just how long they have been awake by her baby's movements and breathing.  Only a mama knows that late-night rocking, even if it's on her cheap twin mattress bed because there simply wasn't room in her tiny apartment for a rocking chair.  She knows the feeling of her hair being twined between baby's fingers as he watches you sing tired lullabies.  She burns slowly-blinking eyelashes into her memory - the sweet half-moon eyelids of a tired baby finally giving in to sleep.

A mama can feel each time she has folded him into her arms to hug, to read a book while stroking his hair, to soothe an ailment.  She knows the head against her chest, her child's body all bones and muscle and perfect flesh.  It's a replay button that she would push every day for the rest of her life, if only life granted that luxury.

Only a mama knows the unique fatigue that accompanies her child's toddlerhood, the twitching muscles that are afraid to sit still (heaven knows he will be running off on another adventure soon!), the heart that looks long at her child's face as it grows and changes ever-so-quickly.  She knows just how his hair looks when it's a bit long and flips up slightly over his ears.  She watches the sunlight glint in his eyes at the park, and gazes straight through to his heart - heart of her hearts.  Only a mama knows.

Only a mama knows knobby knees that run, twirl, play, fall, get up, bend down to inspect God's tiniest creatures.  A mama loves those knobby knees like she has never loved her own body.  She knows the soft, angelic skin because her fingertips have traced and retraced arms and cheeks, legs and toes.  She remembers what her child's hand has always felt like in hers ... even when holding hands meant a tiny grasp around her pointer finger.  Every time she crossed a parking lot, walked into daycare, strolled about on a sunny day, she grabbed that little hand.  And she still tries, even though he won't grab back anymore, and his hand is now almost the size of hers (much to her disbelief).

Only a mama knows the prayers she has prayed, asking God if He even knew what He was doing when he entrusted this beautiful little life to her.  She knows the moments of weakness, the deep sighs of her bones wanting to give up because she. can't. go. on.  And she knows how a good night's sleep takes away all of her fears and worries, and God calms her heart when she looks upon her child in the fresh morning minutes.

Only a mama knows that her child's pain is also her pain.  And in spite of this, she must teach him how to handle his own pain with dignity, respect for others, and with God's guidance.  Only a mama knows the tears that seem to carve her child's cheeks like a river; his tears are her tears, and his sadness, hers.  And only a mama knows that she must shake off this sadness to show him strength, to be an example.  A mama knows those lonely moments in bed when she finally lets her walls down to be weak before God (because when we are weak, we are strong...through Him).

Only a mama knows that grin her child gets just before revealing his latest trick or talent, the grin that tells her to put down whatever she is doing and watch.  Only a mama knows what it means to be cheerleader, coach, nourisher, confidant, disciplinarian, laundry lady, and blanket-tucker all in one.  She knows what it is to pray with him each night, kissing his cheek as she tiptoes out of his room.  She knows that her child still needs her help, even when he doesn't want to admit it, and she knows when to back off and let him fail in order to learn.  She knows because of the depths of her love, the love that God was teaching her while that little one was growing slowly in her womb.

Only a mama knows that watching her baby grow up means that she must also begin to let him go.  She knows the anguish of an empty hand while walking side-by-side with her baby, but she also knows the deep joy of watching him grow in health, wisdom, and Love.


I know this: God gifted me with motherhood.  He gave me all of these moments with my son.  It is Love at its highest and most difficult calling.  And I get to live it.  Though I cry and cry because so many sweet and tender moments have passed, I am looking forward to the new depths of Love that are sure to follow.

I love you, Julien.