It happens to everyone who applies for the job of motherhood: eventually you’re not needed. When holding that tiny bundle in your arms at birth, thoughts of letting go someday are furthest from your mind. You think instead, “This helpless little guy needs someone to take care of him. I volunteer for the job.”
And so, years flutter by, like birds over your head. Occasionally God sends subtle notices that your job someday will end: the first day of school (harder on moms than on children), his learning to ride a bike, the first date, finding a list of girls’ phone numbers on your son’s dresser...and then, the wedding. While you’re happy these milestones occur, they hold a bittersweet tinge: you are letting go.
My dentist says his goal is to work himself out of a job. Ideally, moms are supposed to do the same. We smile at our children’s accomplishments and sniffle behind closed doors.
So, what is it that moms miss? When we get a full night’s sleep without a tiny face hovering inches from our own, whispering, “Mom...my stomach hurts,” we would give anything to have it happen again. We miss warm little arms hugging our necks, giggles in the bathtub, chubby fists holding a handful of dandelions picked just for us, homemade Mother’s Day cards with misspelled words, crayon drawings cluttering the refrigerator door, noise, chaos, messes...yes, we do miss it all. We thought it would never end--and then one day, it did.
There are significant signposts. When your daughters start discussing boys with their friends instead of with you—your job is nearly over. When your kids insist on buying their own clothes, you’re on the way out. When they move away and forget to call, you can start volunteering at the church nursery, because your days of being needed by your own offspring have trickled to a mere drip.
Our church doesn’t have a nursery; that’s why I own a cute little dog.