When I had my third baby at age 40, nine years after my second baby, my heart danced at the prospect of getting to do everything over again as an older, wiser mom. I vowed to appreciate all the moments more, to live in the present and embrace every aspect of motherhood during what would be my motherly swan song, my last “at-bat.”
If I’m being generous, I might say my batting average is about .500 on this score.
But one particular homerun stands out in my memory. My baby, Ginger, was 15 months old and sick with croup. We sat uncomfortably perched on the toilet seat in the steamy bathroom around 2 a.m. She was crying through coughing fits, miserable. I was sweating through my pajamas and from the heat of her feverish body pressed against me, my hair curling around my face from the man-made humidity of the shower spraying scalding water full blast as it tested the limits of our hot-water heater.
As I held her, exhausted from the second night of this, I settled into the moment, savoring it for what it offered me – a chance to hold my baby close and provide some comfort. I appreciated it for what it was and for how fleeting I knew it to be.
I wish I could say that I have demonstrated that fountain of wisdom in all of her eight years thus far. But I haven’t. I’ve tried. But I’ve failed as many times as I’ve succeeded.
Life gets so busy.
Last weekend went something like this:
- Thursday night: Bible study for couples until 8:30 p.m. My husband, Marc, goes home to put Ginger to bed. I go to help the moms of the junior basketball players help the make posters for the senior basketball players so we can honor them on senior night. Home around 10:30 p.m.
- Friday: Client work and finishing up a short story for the fiction workshop I’m indulging in to improve my writing. Meet Ginger at the bus stop and deliver her to my neighbors so Marc and I can get to the senior night varsity basketball game. Home around 9 p.m.
- Saturday: 13-mile training run for my half marathon. Marc does a CrossFit class while my son, Brad, watches Ginger. Then Marc takes them to the pancake breakfast at Ginger’s school. Marc and I do taxes all afternoon. Drop Ginger off at a birthday party at 6:30 p.m., sneak into church a little late, where Marc is saving me a seat. After church, Marc goes to pick up Ginger at the party and I head home to make chili for Brad’s Superbowl party on Sunday. Bed around 10:30 p.m.
- Sunday: Sleep in until 8:30 a.m. What a treat! Then grocery shop while Marc heads to accountants office to do taxes. I get home, put away groceries and head to my fiction class while Marc and Brad set up for the Superbowl party. I return home around 5 p.m., and then Ginger and run out to buy Valentines for her class party on Thursday, knowing the week will be crazy and we have to get this done tonight. We return home and embark on making the Valentine box and filling out the cards and assembling them with the pencils she is giving as a special treat.
Admittedly, I did not want to make the Valentine box. I hate arts and crafts on a good day. While this had not been a bad day, it had been an overly scheduled one. My tank was empty. I wanted to curl up with a good book and put this busy weekend to bed.
She wanted glitter and sparkles and a hot glue gun and the “best Valentine’s box ever.”
Something made me remember that night she was sick with croup. It seems like it’s been awhile since I held her while she was sick. Then I remembered a poem I read recently about there being a last time for everything – a last time when you feed your baby, a last time when you will hold her on your hip, the last time he will reach for your hand before crossing the street. And you won’t know it’s the last time.
And I thought, “Savor it.”
So we made the Valentine Box.
Just kidding. I may sometimes forget to savor the moment, but I seldom forget to be snarky. I just had to take that picture.
Before making this box with her.
And then attending this party with her today.
And then she gave me this.
I hope it’s not the last homemade Valentine she makes for me, but I’m saving it just in case.
And I’m hoping to improve my batting average this year. Because it’s going way too fast.