Growing up overnight

Seven years ago I was checked into Lafayette General. Birth plan in place. I would labor through the night of the 11th and all day of the 12th.

Birth plan fading into a haze in the shadow of the pain.

I. Was. Freaking. Out.

And when I completely lose it I usually get eerily outwardly calm and talk really kindly to medical professionals. I’ll never forget the moment I felt sure I couldn’t go on unmedicated.

How. Can. I. Do. This.

It was dark. Quiet. The exhaustion of hours of labor chipped away at my resolve. I was hungry.

Tears filled my eyes.

“I don’t know how I’ll do this any longer.”

My mom (who brought three as in THREE children into this world without a pain med) looked at me and said “you don’t have to.”

My dedication flew right out the window and I hit the little lifeline to the nurses’ station button “ummm yes I do after all want to talk about my pain medication options please.”

It’s seven years later and I’m pregnant for the second time. I don’t know that things could be more different.

“I was hungry. Tears filled my eyes. I don’t know how I’ll do this …”

There were periods of time I didn’t know whether I would ever bring another child into this world. Times I was sure I may not.

My life, like most of ours, went beautifully and wildly off course when my son, Wilder, was two.

I live in a different state. Back at home just minutes from my family. I celebrated the second anniversary of marrying the love of my life this summer.

I’m an ordained minister, an artist, a small business owner. My life as a women’s magazine editor just seven years ago feels far removed from the present.

Tomorrow we celebrate Wilder’s seventh birthday. When he went to bed tonight he felt confident that he would wake a “big kid.” Leaving six behind, apparently being a big kid starts at seven.

I love his confidence. That overnight we become something new. Overnight we go deftly from one level to the next.

I know I certainly never have. Neither overnight. Nor deftly. As much as I’ve wanted to over the last seven years.

Motherhood doesn’t happen overnight. But it does grow often in the darkest hours. The darkest times. The alone moments.

It happens in the rhythm of a rocking chair against the floor. It happens when the book ends and you find that custom solution that works just for your baby.

It happens when your mom says “anyone can chair the gala (or organize this or fly off to that), but you’re the only one who can be his mom.”

It’s holding on when it would be easier to let it slide. It’s letting go one rotation of the bicycle tires at a time. It’s letting them wobble down the driveway alone knowing it’s the only way they’ll learn to ride with confidence on the days we aren’t standing there wincing.

Motherhood happens in a collection of choices that balance protection and authenticity. It’s a million bandaids and doing the things that may sting for a minute now, but save them a tsunami of hurt later.

It’s choosing them. And then doing it again and again and again. And it’s figuring out how to choose yourself and the mission the Lord’s laid before you in a million different ways because there’s perhaps nothing more important than teaching our children they are both well loved and not the center of the universe.

How. Can. I. Do. This.

I’m still working on that part.

The good news is that I’m not freaking out this Oct. 11. The bad news is there are no epidurals for the transition between little kid and big kid. Gotta be wide awake and feel it all through these stages.

On that night seven years ago I felt so very overwhelmed.

I can say with confidence that while I don’t know the future, I am no longer overwhelmed by it.

Despite my imperfections, the ups and downs of the last seven years (or maybe because of them), I am entirely and utterly a momma and Wilder will wake tomorrow a big kid.

The thing he doesn’t know is this: he’s been a big kid for awhile now.

I see it in the way he calculates the outcome before he acts. In the way he is so gentle with his baby cousin. In how he so accurately judges a situation that’s far beyond his years.

In how he instinctually knows when someone is hurting. In how he walks into new rooms unafraid and gives just the right compliment at just the right moment.

Tonight it is dark. Quiet. The exhaustion of pregnancy and real life is upon me. I am hungry (always with the pregnancy cravings).

Tears fill my eyes.

But, this time instead of wondering how I’ll do this, the tears represent seven years of beautiful, messy, just wonderful life. This child of mine brought color into my world that had turned black and white with the wear and tear of life.

But, perhaps more than anything the tears come when I think of how beautifully he continues to color this dark world beyond the walls of our home. Of how many lives he will touch.

We are only seven years in, my sweet, wild son. Here’s to spending the rest of your life (and mine) coloring the world every chance we get. Even if it means going outside the lines. I love you the most, big kid.

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