Every time spring rolls around, I am brought back to the spring of 2008. Spring bloomed that year just as my pregnancy with Magoo was starting to come to a close.
We had waited so long for that pregnancy, and we had waited so long to meet her. The pregnancy wasn’t without complications, and so the closer and closer we got to 30 weeks and then 34 weeks and then 36 weeks, the more relief I felt. With each day, she was getting bigger and stronger and more able to handle the world.
We painted her nursery a deep purple. I had made Care Bear rugs for her windows. Every day after work I would come home and go straight to her room and start organizing all the freshly laundered new clothes that she would soon be wearing.
I can remember the smell of the room. I can remember just how the sun rested upon the objects in the room. And I can remember the awe and the joy and the anticipation.
I close my eyes, and I can be right back there.
I was thinking about this yesterday, and I was thinking about how fun it would be to go back to that time just for a moment or two. Just to experience that height of emotions and that eager longing we felt for our family. The family that would grow significantly in the next few years.
One thing I don’t remember is exactly what I believed motherhood was at that time. I knew I wanted to be a mom. I knew I wanted to carry around the infant car seat everywhere I went. I was excited to use my new diaper bag. I knew I wanted to see her face. I longed for the days when I would cuddle her in my arms. I loved her deeply already, and I wanted to be able to shower that love onto her.
And that is exactly what I did when she was born. Just like first time parents the world over do, I doted. I refused to put her down. I would feel empty if I let her sit in her bouncy seat for more than a couple of minutes.
I documented it. Man did I document it. I would spend hours taking shot after shot trying to get the camera to show just what I saw when I looked at her. But a camera can only make out shapes and colors. They couldn’t see the love that filtered my every glance at her.
That was a long time ago. It seems like a lifetime ago.
I took the little two to Mass today. We weren’t inside the church all that long as little miss Mae decided she didn’t want to be quiet. I took her in the back where she proceeded to do laps and squeal and try to escape outside. I took them grocery shopping afterwards, and that was even less productive. I just put them down for a nap, but not before Mae could dump out three glasses of milk all over the floor, dump out half a box of Cheerios, and beg to eat anything but the one thing I had made her for lunch.
Having a two and a three year old is crazy making. It makes the house crazy, and it makes me crazy.
But on the way home, I put on this song by Garth Brooks…
I played it over and over again.
And I was struck with the magic of motherhood.
Yes, they run away from me in public places. But that’s because they know I will follow.
Yes, they test their limits and see what they can get away, and that’s because they know my love doesn’t follow the whims of my moods, and it’s not dependent upon their actions.
They might keep me up all night, many nights, but that’s because they want me near them, comforting them. They want to remember the smell and the touch they knew before I knew their faces.
They want to be with me, practically on top of me, most of their waking hours. And that feeling of being touched out can be acute. But my personal space is a gift I give. Not always happily but always freely.
And I give them my time. I make their meals and wash their clothes and change diapers and do potty duty. I read to them. I sing to them. I dance with them. I make silly faces to make them laugh.
I listen, patiently, to Magoo’s stories. The stories that can go on for hours. The stories she saves for me. She’s not very shy. She’s pretty extroverted. And yet there are some things that she saves only for my ears. And the responsibility of that and the privilege of that… I’m not sure what could possibly compare to being the keeper of secrets and the guardian of hearts so precious and so dear and so innocent.
When I think back to those heady days I lived waiting for Magoo to make her appearance, I realize that I didn’t know how difficult motherhood would be. And because of that, I didn’t know, I didn’t have any clue, just how joyous and blessed it is.
Motherhood changes us. There is no doubt about that. And it changes us because it infiltrates every aspect of our lives. It asks more of us. It demands more of us. And because of that, it stretches us.
Anyone can love a child. It’s remarkably easy. But only a parent will dedicate their lives to that child.
And that is a blessing and a calling and a vocation. It’s not a job. It’s not a list of tasks. It’s a giving of oneself, wholly and completely.
And to be that person for someone, to hold that tremendous amount of responsibility…
To be that trusted and that needed and that wanted…
Well, it’s the closest thing to Heaven that I have found.