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. Notatall. 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.