July 15, 2016

Mamas, Please Don't Grieve That Your Children Are Growing Up


There it was again in my Facebook feed: a post of an adorable birthday girl with a sweet smile and a sprinkled cupcake, ready for the eating. 
And beneath it, along with the likes and loves, a sad, crying Facebook “reaction” face. 
Which breaks my heart.
Tears and sadness because this little girl is turning a year older? Because she’s “growing up?”

There is much of this on social media these days. Last times posts and “I’m so sad my baby is getting older” pieces…and crying-face emojis in reaction to a happy birthday picture.
And I get it: oh, I really, really do.
I'm the mom of two teenagers, and I've seen more "lasts" that I can count. I navigated all my firstborn's senior moments last year with a travel pack of tissues tucked in my back pocket.
I know birthdays and milestones remind us of what has been and might be no more. I know they bring to the forefront time that’s gone by and is now gone. I know they hit us--slam us!--with what we loved in the past and might miss in the future.
But we have children to raise them. We bring them into our families to teach them and nourish them and nurture them and protect them for the future we want for them.
So when they reach a moment when they are one step closer to that future, shouldn’t we be happy and joyful and incredibly grateful?
Tomorrow is promised to no one, and too many parents know that full well. What would that mom and dad who lost their child at Disney give to be able to put up another happy birthday post? What would I give to be able to share that the baby I lost to miscarriage has turned into a toddler or a tween or a twentysomething? What would any parent who’s lost a child at any age give to be able to announce to the world that they are turning another year older?
You know the answer: they would give anything. Anything. And the reactions to those announcements would be pure likes and loves and joy and celebration.
I'm not trying to tell any mom what she should feel. Not at all. I myself can’t pick my girls up or nuzzle them on my shoulder. I can–and do–hold them on my lap, but they lop over onto the chair and the floor. All of which is to say that I well understand the temptation to weep for the past and to regret all the things I’ll never do with my children again.
But I try to cherish the fact that I did do them. I had those moments, and now I am looking forward to new seasons, new joys, new blessings in the future.
Please, mamas, hear my heart as an older mom: savor the now as much as you can. Suck the life out of every moment with your children, whatever their ages. Try to notice all the things you might miss down the road. Be grateful for today and the sweet pleasures it holds. But when–-if–-tomorrow comes, try not to mourn it. It is a gift and not to be taken for granted. Make your announcement, put up your post…and then wait for others to celebrate with you.

**This post was originally published on Her View From Home. It may have been shared at some of these blog bashes.**

14 comments:

  1. I am probably the only mom that didn't cry on my kids first day of Kindergarten, or the last. I am happy he is growing and maturing. I try to enjoy where he is now. I don't pine for when he was a baby nor do I wish he were older so he could "fill in the blank". I try to be sympathetic to other moms that get upset over these things, but the concept is so foreign to me.

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    1. Audrey, I LOVE and appreciate your honesty. And I don't think you are alone in this! I try to practice what you've shared here. I get a little nostalgic, but I try to be grateful for the now. Some days, that's easier than others. But I try. ;) I also love what you say about being sympathetic to other moms' struggles...their story may not be ours, but the gift of sympathy if not empathy is one we can at least try to give each other! Thanks so much for stopping by...as always, I appreciate you so much!

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  2. What a great perspective. It's not that I necessarily want to go back in time, I just want it to slow down a bit. I am an emotional person, so naturally i get emotional as I watch my kids grow up. Mostly out of pride and mostly because I want it to slow down.

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    1. Emotions, pride...you've hit the nail on the head for me right now, too, Samantha! My daughter's senior year hasn't even officially started yet, and I already feel like it's a speeding train I'm running to jump onto! But yes, so much pride and excitement for what this year and those beyond hold for her. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your thoughtful words!

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  3. I try hard to stay rooted in the present moment of motherhood, but it can be hard to not feel nostalgic about the past and excited for the future at times. Thank you for sharing on Family Joy Blog Link-Up Party. Have a great week!

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    1. I fight that battle all the time, too! I look back on when my girls were little and wish I'd savored those moments more. Maybe that's why I'm trying to learn from that and savor the ones we're in now. :) Thank you so much for sharing your heart and for hosting the Family Joy party!

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  4. What a fantastic perspective! I always felt like my mom was sad I was growing up, and it made me hold back sometimes when I wouldn't have otherwise... don't tell her though, my mom is awesome otherwise, haha! #FridayFrivolity

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    1. Not to worry, Sarah Eliza...I have no doubt that your mom has a hundred fabulous traits to make up for this one understandable "weakness"! ;)It's a hard trap to avoid, but I'm fighting it like crazy, especially these days. Thanks so much to you and all the #FridayFrivolity girls!

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  5. So true - great thoughts. It's hard thought, but I agree. I remember how it was when I was growing up, and it was tough on my mom sometimes. I think it was more fear than sadness...ha! Trying to make sure I catch myself and realize what's happening before it happens...you know, because us moms have super powers :) Great post - thanks for sharing! (visit from SHINE)

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    1. You are so right, Ann: it IS hard. And I think you nailed it about "more fear than sadness." I saw a comment on this from someone yesterday about fear of the future making us long for the past, and I absolutely agree with that. We know what happened before and, hopefully, loved much of it, so it's hard to celebrate an unknown future. I just know so many times, after something has happened, that I wish I'd savored it more IN the moment. So I'm trying to do that with my girls as they grow...as you wisely said, "Trying to make sure I catch myself and realize what's happening before it happens." Thank you for stopping by from the SHINE and for leaving your thoughtful words!

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  6. Beautifully said, Elizabeth. I think there's a bittersweet aspect to it. We mourn the loss of those little days while celebrating the future that our kids still have in store. You're absolutely right, however, "tomorrow is a promise to no one" So instead of being sad that our babies are now growing up, perhaps it's better that we can just be thankful we were able to have those moments in the first place; because some parents aren't so lucky. Thank you for sharing your beautiful perspective with us on #shinebloghop! this week.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing your lovely and considerate perspective here, Maria! With two teenagers, I well understand the longing for days gone by! Which is why more and more, I'm just trying to be deliberate about appreciating--and not taking for granted--the days we're living now. Blessings to you and all the SHINE hostesses. xoxo

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  7. I think I don't feel so sad because I'm truly soaking up every single second with Gv - it's always so fun to see her growing and changing, too! Maybe I'd feel different if I weren't able to spend all this time with her, though. I'm just happy to not worry about what that would be like!

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    1. Lisa, as usual, I 100 zillion percent agree with you. When my baby went off to kindergarten, people asked, "Oh, aren't you sad?" And I was able to tell them honestly that I wasn't (too much) because we had all the years before together. We had lived so many moments and stored up so many memories that I was just happy to be able to see her move on to the next thing she was supposed to do. And I agree with you: to have that time is a privilege and blessing, and I'm so thankful I had it. Thanks as always for stopping by...you're the best.

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I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!