Yesterday I spent part of my day at a Monday homeschool support program my daughter Jaime started last year, enjoyed by a few dozen children and some spunky mom/teachers. I walked up to the building to a greeting of a voice I recognized as my friend, Vicki, who waved from the playground where she was supervising a couple of kids. Inside, I walked by classrooms of giggling children, a teacher reminding students to stop chatting and pay attention, and a child asking how big a stomach is.

I observed my daughter Janelle’s writing and history classes in preparation for being her substitute teacher when little Silas is born in a couple of weeks; watched moms pull toddlers onto their lap to help them with lunch; observed a pregnant mother rubbing her expanding belly; was introduced to a delightful single woman with a reputation for being an awesome kindergarten teacher; and overheard Jaime saying she was headed off to clean up a poopy “whoops” in the bathroom.

As the morning progressed I became sad. I was thrilled to be there and am really looking forward to subbing for my daughter. Yet on the way home tears filled my eyes as a strange blanket of grief crept through my heart.

I miss my babies.

At ages 35, 34, 30, 27, 24 and 19 my littles are now all big. They are terrific, productive, delightful, busy, handsome/beautiful…adults.  They have given me eleven adorable Little People, with numbers twelve and thirteen on the way. And just two nights ago I had the opportunity to listen to them mock and honor and express their love to the three whose September birthdays we were celebrating. Sometimes I pinch myself as I wonder how in the world this “infertile” woman has been so lavishly loved by God.

But today I miss them.

I miss all those little blondes and the dark-haired cutie God gave us last through adoption. I miss wondering if it was dog or toddler pee on the hallway floor and realizing at 4:30 PM that chili dogs would have to do because I forgot to thaw the chicken…again. I miss dandelion bouquets. Feeding the ducks at Burke Lake. Overhearing Benny praying from room to room at night that each would “love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” Snuggling on the couch to teach another first grader to read. The smell of a just-bathed newborn. Having my frig covered with pictures of Mommy and Daddy whose skinny arms stretched out of our fat heads. Picking up coloring books and popsicles and a Blockbuster movie for the one who had a fever. Nags Head vacations with a house full of kids and friends.

I miss my littles. It may sound strange but today I feel like I’m grieving. Why? They’re all well and I still get to make their favorite birthday dinners. They love to mock me for lovingly comparing a friend to a hobbit and remind me that the every single accent I try always sounds asian. Laughter still fills my home when they are around and the piano in the living room gets played a lot, usually with Jesse’s newest awesome arrangement of something familiar. When Jake, Joey and Janelle get into the kitchen to help clean up, Disney songs are still belted uproariously out and Josh thinks even today’s video games are “unrealistic.” And once in awhile I even hear Jaime slightly mispronouncing her r’s.

So what am I grieving?

I’m mourning the loss of years I thought would never end. But they did.

They ended before I made enough pbnj’s; played enough CandyLand; read enough “Fox and the Hound”‘s; kissed enough boo-boos; graded enough spelling tests; cheered at enough basketball games; swept up enough Cheerios; wiped enough tears; kissed enough soft cheeks; returned enough morning grins; clapped at enough piano recitals; celebrated enough lost teeth; and combed or trimmed or curled or cut gum about of enough hair.

Maybe it was  yesterday’s gloomy, rainy day that caused me to mirror the melancholy because it’s been awhile since I’ve grieved like this. I mostly love my still-busy but different life when I can actually go to the bathroom alone and enjoy leisurely time reading my Bible or editing family photos or blogging in my room with no interruptions (well, except when Benny’s elderly mother wants to know if I can help her find a NCIS rerun on her tv or asks again if I’m sure she took all her pills that morning). But yesterday I was mourning the loss of a life that was more exhausting but wonderful than I could have ever dreamed.

If you’re a mom of young children, please try to remember that before you know it you will be me. The very things that tempt you to feel unappreciated, cause you to fall into bed exhausted (knowing it’s only a matter of time before someone cries to be fed or falls out of bed or rushes in frightened by a bad dream), and make you crazy are those things that may find you driving in a few decades with tears streaming. Of course you get tired and overwhelmed. What you’re doing with your life requires more courage and strength than you ever anticipated. And, yes, you get as low on patience as you do sleep.

But sooner than you think you might be sitting in your quiet room alone thinking about how happy you are that your pregnant daughter and her husband are coming for dinner. In fact (shhh…don’t tell anyone) you might even experience a tinge of jealousy that she is the one about to bring home a newborn and not you.

Then you’ll come to your senses and realize that there is something precious and sweet about remembering things that used to feel they would always be…but aren’t. The grief will pass but the memories won’t.

Kiss your babies while their cheeks remain soft and their little bottoms can still fit into your lap. And tonight when you fall exhausted into bed, remember there’s now one less day before you will celebrate their last birthday at home before they get married to start the crazy, wonderful years they, too, think will creep by before they get old (right, Jake?). The tears you shed now over another day of doing chores that will only have to be redone tomorrow will become tears of sentimental regret that one one is in the house to mess it up.

I know you probably don’t believe me. But trust me. It’s all true.

Me and my "babies"

Me and my “babies”

15 thoughts on “i.miss.them.

  1. Sheree,
    You have just articulated exactly what I have been feeling lately! It seems everywhere I go I see young mothers with their strollers in hand. My thoughts like you go back to those days of being “Mommy.” Once again you have encouraged me by sharing your life experience in a real and vulnerable way. Thanks Buddy!

    • Wonderful to hear from you, dear friend. It’s good to know I’m not the only one feeling this way!! I clearly remember my morning walks and the house I chose to remind me to pray that God would give you a baby. How faithful He has been! I am asking the Lord for fresh vision and faith for this season of my life. I want to love this season as I did that one. I’m not there and am asking for God’s ample help and wisdom. Love and miss you!

  2. Sheree, thank you so much for this! I found myself in a puddle of tears as I read along! My precious little girls are only 3, 6, 9, 11 & 13 but I already find myself emotional about how quickly they are growing up! This is such a great reminder to cherish every sweet, messy, challenging, mundane, beautiful little moment! My mama passed away when I was a teenager and I miss her deeply but I can imagine that this is the kind of sweet mama-advice she would say to me! Thank you so much!

    Erin Palmer

  3. Thank you for your post. I have been struggling lately with all there is to accomplish in a day. I still have two children at home 7 and 14 and they keep me busy. This past month has been crazy, I broke my foot and am on crutches. I have been very stressed over the things I can’t get done around the home. I think I am going to ignore the messy house, do what I am capable of doing and then just enjoy my children.

    • Shelli,

      What a challenging situation you are in! I can only imagine the pressures of being injured on top of a full and busy life. The stress you are experiencing is certainly common — I had my own stressful day today and I’m not on crutches! So do ignore than messy house and cherish this time of not being able to do much but rest and enjoy those children.

      Warmly, Sheree

  4. As I snuggled with my grandson this afternoon and kissed the top of his sweet head as he slept, I remembered doing the same things not so long ago with his daddy. I experienced the grief you wrote about, Sheree, as I thought about how quickly the years have passed. Thanks for putting in print what my heart feels too.

  5. Thank you for this post. I usually just hear the short hand of these thoughts, mostly in the form of: “enjoy every moment” or “I miss those days” and sometimes I can understand, and sometimes I think “you are crazy! how can you miss this!” depending on the day I’ve had 🙂

    But reading this wonderfully, well-written post filled with details and honesty it has made me look at every little moment of my day with new eyes. Even as I was reading the post my daughter came up and sat in my lap (subsequently elbowing my huge pregnant belly…which feels great) and started to push all the buttons, making the page scroll uncontrollably, but I couldn’t be upset. I’m thankful she wants to be in my lap, and I love to hear her giggles when I tickle her, in effort to pull her hands off the keyboard. Even as I attempt to post this comment I am telling my son to wait just a second, because he want’s me to be the “doctor” and fix his toy *right now*

    In the midst of all the craziness, I’m so thankful I get this season, thanks for your perspective 🙂

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