When Chloe was a few months old,
there was a morning storm.
The electricity went out and
it stayed out for a few hours.
That day, we napped together
in the living room.
There was a palpable absence
of the sounds of a life lived within technology
even before smartphones…
no humming computers
or phones ringing to distract us.
As she lay asleep, nestled into my arms,
I awoke with a distinct new consciousness as
I listened to the sounds of my child–
our inhaling and exhaling,
in steady rhythm,
we composed our own music for sleeping…
“She is here.
A creation formed
in my womb.
A breath of hope,
a song of joy,
a creation formed with purpose,
a bright new bloom in this old world meadow.”
With breaths of thankfulness,
I saw with clarity that
nothing mattered before that moment.
It was now
And being quiet with her was everything
and the only thing in the entire world to me.
It was peace,
her and I
alone for a moment in time
on a rainy November day in 2004.
I listened closely to the sound
her life was making on her first fresh days in the world
and I listened closely to the sound
my life was making in my first year as a mother…
and I knew
there is no such thing as a perfect mother,
only listening and learning.
15 years later
and still, I listen closely to the sounds her life
and her heart is making
I want to slow down time at every quiet moment
I wish for more.
I miss her little baby hands and baby cheeks so much it hurts. My first born. She made me a mother and from the second I saw the red positive line on the pregnancy test, I knew my baby was a “she.” I couldn’t explain it then and I can’t explain it all these years later, but I just knew she was a girl. I started calling her Chloe before we even had a doctor appointment. There was a connection I felt with her spirit long before I saw her face. Before I even knew her, I knew her.
I felt when she was sleeping, when she was active and I knew her favorite comfy position in my womb… up high and pressed into my right rib cage where she loved to kick at my ribs in the evening.
When she was born, the first thing the nurse said to me as she laid her on my chest was that she looked like she had an old soul. A friend met her a week later and said the same thing. I would respond, “it’s something about her eyes, isn’t it?” She was alert and expressive from day one. Complete with colic that lasted for months. Her piercing blue eyes looked right through you, contemplative like she was ready to have a long conversation. By 9 months, she was on her way to telling us all about it and soon after that was speaking in complete sentences. She has always had so much to say, so much to teach us. Today is her 15th birthday…and we are still learning about each other everyday.
To new mother’s, I know those long, sleepless nights are almost unbearable and the thankless things you do daily go unnoticed. You forget to tend to yourself. Maybe some of your dreams are put on hold, your goals forgotten in the constant to-do list of mothering. The days seem never ending. The nights hold frustrations over bedtime, sibling fighting and many sleepless nights.
Sometimes the monotony of doing the same laundry, cleaning the same spills and putting away the same toys, day after day can squelch your adventurous spirit. And let’s be honest, it can feel suffocating and lonely. Parenting is incredibly hard and the days are impossibly long when they are little. You are never truly off the clock.
But then… one day, you will look up and your “old soul” newborn will be talking about driving and what colleges they want to apply to. She will look at you with a fire in her eyes and tell you with a catch in her voice, that she has big dreams and now she knows what she wants to do with her life. She will take a deep breath and spill her heart out about her passion for social justice, for helping those whose voices are too often silenced. She will ask about bar exams and social justice law.
And your heart will rejoice and ache in the same beat.
The younger blonde haired beauty will be telling you she wants to move to Europe when she graduates college and because she has so many passions, she thinks she will try and do them all – working with special needs children, helping animals and acting. And this is when you will cry yourself to sleep during a storm of conflicting emotions of joy and heartache because you will whisper pray, “My, God. How did we get here already? Where are my babies?”
And you will question every single decision you made as a mother. You will doubt. You will beat yourself up over the moments lost, the days squandered, the time wasted, the petty arguments and misfired words. You will wonder if you gave them all they needed. Was it good enough?
And one day they will be teens and still want to hang out with you, they will make you laugh, they will reach for your hand when you’re crying, they will light up a room, they will want to watch Grey’s Anatomy with you at midnight because it’s been a long day.
And you’ll know… it was more than enough.
Love big, give out hugs even when they don’t act like they want one, float them armfuls of grace and heaps of forgiveness, acknowledge their pain, celebrate their joy and teach them in a way only a mama can. Your heart will break a million times as they begin to flourish.
That’s how you know you’ve loved well, when you realize you never stopped listening to the sound their life is making.