Beyond Babies: What Comes Next?

In those early years of mothering, we seem caught up in perpetual motion. As we juggle the needs of our young children with the demands of everyday life, trying to achieve that elusive sense of balance, it can feel as though we might never find ourselves again.

Yet, before we know it, babies are no longer seated on our hips and little hands aren’t reaching out for help. Though we might have once longed for this stage of independence, its arrival can be bittersweet, leaving us at a crossroads as we reconcile who we are beyond mom, and who we would like to continue to become.

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Soon, the days of carrying a baby on my hip will come to an end.

The reality hit home when my seven-year-old decided he no longer needed our bedtime ritual in order to fall asleep. Admittedly, some nights I had attended to him with dread. Managing motherhood along with our own goals can leave us feeling spent by the time seven o’clock rolls around. Our well-deserved hour of me-time seems as though it will never arrive. Yet, I felt slightly stunned when I realized multiple books and an abundance of kisses were a thing of the past.

In the moment, those nights had seemed endless, yet when left to exist in my memory, they seemed to have raced too quickly to appreciate.

Looking down at my sleeping preschooler, the one who tests with his fiery, passionate emotions, I realized that seven years old isn’t so far off for him, either. And the sweet baby soundly dreaming in her crib? Well, moms, let me tell you. Life somehow moves infinitely faster when you know each infant milestone achieved will be your last.

Of course, there is little we can do to slow down the passage of time. At best, we can commit to navigating gracefully, as we try to be present in the beautiful moments, grateful through the mundane, and patient through the trials. Because the truth is, time never really felt tangible until we had our children, did it? But when each year brings tremendous growth that we can pencil in like marking height against the wall, it is nearly impossible to ignore how fleeting time can be.

So, I’d like to ask you, who do you envision yourself to be fifteen years from now, when we are in the season beyond babies, in that golden stretch of space where balance isn’t so hard to come by?

Will we be women who can stand before the mirror feeling assured and lovely in our own skin?

Yes, we will be moms forever. The moment we committed to allowing those extensions of our hearts to exist outside of our bodies, we assigned ourselves a role, eternal.

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Yet swirled in with the beautiful pieces defined as mom and wife and friend, is something deep and ever evolving: the heart of ourselves. Our unique and wonderful individuality, to which there is no end.

 Dear mama, I encourage you to stay in touch with your heart. Keep getting to know yourself with the curious interest you would offer to a new, intriguing friend. You might be surprised by how interesting you are, how truly beautiful you continue to become.

Life might seem to be endless decisions, dinner prep, dishes and diapers, while fighting hard to get ahead. Free time? Nonexistent. Self-care? Do moms truly have time for that? But soon those sleepyheads won’t be shouting for a third drink of water and another tuck-in to bed. Babies will sleep through the night, and we will, too.

So when tonight arrives, tired as you might be, take a moment to add yourself to the to-do list. Take a bubbly bath. Listen to the music you enjoy. Dream up plans for your future and continue to explore your passions. Make a mental note of everything that you adore about yourself, because someday soon, we will be standing tall without strollers to push or little hands to hold.

We will look back upon the time we spent honoring ourselves with gratitude, because without us, this beautiful season of life would be unable to exist, and when we recognize our own magnificence, the surprising adventure never ends.

Do you take time to stay in touch with yourself? What have you learned?

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This piece was originally published on The BELLAMOM

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8 thoughts on “Beyond Babies: What Comes Next?

  1. I was literally JUST talking to Mike about this last night. I was thinking about how fast Asher is growing. I saw him standing in our doorway yesterday and imagined him a grown, young man standing in that doorway. Then I pictured what I would be like, looking at him. Gives me chills. This post was so timely for me. Hugs to you, friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely piece. I keep thinking about the fact that in ten years or so we’ll have teenagers that have their own plans, and we’ll be back to quiet evenings, wondering how it all went so fast. It’s really hard to hold onto that while you’re in the midst of the sleepless nights and the chaotic days.

    Like

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