It’s true what she told me. That I would look back and remember that day with fond memories. Mothers are always right. I should know this now that I am one. Just as I can recall that particular day without hesitation, I also remember just as easily my mother’s kindness and wisdom.
Two Christmases ago my family was plagued with the flu. My girls were ages 3 and 3 months then and Christmas was just days away. Instead of spending the day preparing for Santa’s pending arrival, creating a Christmas craft or being out exploring Christmas festivities—we were stuck inside feeling anything but merry and bright.
Sitting in my glider I held my baby on my chest, her face nuzzled into my neck. My oldest daughter was slumped on my lap, legs dangling over the side. Her whole body sank into my soft tummy, using my full milk breasts as her pillow. They were fast asleep and I wasn’t about to move. My husband and I had been up all through the night. We had been alternating which girl we were holding while they threw up, needed medicine and diaper changes. Baby Jane was so congested she struggled to nurse. Even when she was asleep I sat up watching her chest move up and down, listening for her breath. I was paranoid that she wouldn’t be able to breathe properly. I was exhausted.
I looked out the window and across the frozen park beside my house. I could see the cold outside, the frost biting at the windows and leaving its white dust on the grass. No one was outside; not even the ducks that normally occupy the banks of the river next to my house could be found. The view was dismal, matching how I was feeling inside.
A mother’s heart always hurts when her babies are sick.
My mama heart hurt two times over. Both my kids were terribly ill during what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. As I sat there in my dirty clothes, surrounded by throw up buckets, soiled burp cloths and covered in sleeping children, my heart felt heavy. I decided to call my mom.
Talking to my mom on the phone always makes me feel better. She grounds me and gives me a new perspective on whatever it is that I am discontented with. As a classic over thinker, she can simplify it for me, suggest a solution or just offer an opinion—never judgmental, sometimes challenging. On the phone I quietly lamented to her about our current state. She listened and could hear the disappointment and sadness in my voice. She knew exactly how I was feeling, as she had been there some years ago.
What she said next I will never forget.
My mom told me that she would give anything to go back and hold my brother and me on her lap and snuggle us all afternoon, even if we were sick. She reminded me that I was taking care of them and giving them what they needed most. What more did they want when they were sick, than to cuddle on their Mama’s lap and sleep? One day when they were grown and gone, I would look back on this afternoon with fond memories.
I had heard that message in various forms several times before.
I have lost count the number of times I am gently told to enjoy this stage while it lasts, as they pass to quickly. Strangers comment about the precious gift these early years are almost daily. Of course, I know this to be true, but for some reason that day my mother’s words stuck with me. My mom, who knows all too well that the days feel long but the years pass by quickly, did this for me and now I get to nurture and tend to my girls.
Now, nearly 16 months later, I can recall that day vividly. It plays back in my mind’s slideshow of precious moments I have had with my daughters. I can still feel my baby’s heavy, warm breath on my neck. Or the rise and fall of my daughter’s chest against mine. That lone, quiet afternoon spent sitting still and cuddling, ended up being a dear memory I cling to on afternoons that are messy, chaotic and anything but silent.
It serves as a reminder to me that these girls are my most precious gift. I need to take every opportunity to sit, just be and soak in every part of them just the way they are right then and there.
For each moment is fleeting and quickly becomes a memory.
Michelle Smid is a mom of two little girls and wife to Spencer. She is passionate about creating a community of mothers who are authentic about the emotional roller coaster of motherhood, supporting and accepting each other. Michelle loves to read, have dance parties with her daughters and cook. Michelle is girly, silly and an idealist. She is also the Community Outreach Coordinator of the Good Mother Project.
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