On a hot late July afternoon, my best friend and I were lounging at the beach, soaking up one of the most gorgeous of summer days – the sky was completely clear and vivid blue, it was a hot, but not overly humid, day, and the sun was shining. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
We brought our towels and swimsuits, and spent a leisurely day lying on the sand, then dipping into the refreshing river water whenever we wanted, for as long as we wanted.
We spent the entire afternoon that way, totally relaxed and enjoying every moment. At one point, we were engaged in conversation when I spotted a young boy, maybe three or four years old, toddling along the edge of the water.
For some reason, looking at that little boy brought about a familiar stirring, albeit a distant, long-buried one: my deep-seated longing to have one more child.
Having had three – aged 19, 15 and nearly seven – and being 37, I know having another child is not in the cards for me, for many very logical reasons. But for some reason, my heart hasn’t quite gotten the memo.
When I had my third child at 30, I saw her as my last chance – and treated it accordingly. I have cherished every single moment with her and turned away from many opportunities – and finally learned to say no when it matters – to have as much time with her as possible. And it’s been magical.
I’ve spent the last twenty years dedicated to my role as mother. It’s been, without any doubt, my pride and joy.
And it’s been a bit of a shock to watch my older two evolve into independent young adults. And in many ways, become more distant from me. It’s been extremely difficult.
However, I had my little one to give me comfort, to show me that I still had one who needed me, that I was still a beloved “mommy” to a little girl who still believes I hung the moon (her sister and brother gave that up long ago).
Now that precious third baby will be entering Grade 2, and turning seven in November. She’s not the baby any longer, a fact that is becoming painfully clearer with every passing day.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching her grow and learn and her personality develop, and in certain ways, things have gotten easier again as she achieves increasing independence.
But lately, I’ve begun contemplating what life will be like once she really begins to grow up, as her sister and brother have done, and moves away from me and into her own world, a world where I no longer play a starring role. It’s a painful thought.
And so, I find my long-buried desire to have another child slowly emerging.
I often daydream about how wonderful it would be to experience the incredible privilege that is motherhood just one more time. To be someone’s “mommy” for just a few more years. To have the exquisite opportunity to breastfeed, to snuggle a newborn, to struggle through the sleepness nights, the potty training, all of it – just one more time.
But I know deep in my core that those days have passed. As much as I’d love the opportunity, it won’t be coming my way and so I must dig a little deeper and try to find ways to satisfy that longing, that desire to be needed, in some other way.
Becoming a mother was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. And I suppose it’s natural to feel the desire to continuously recreate an experience that has been so joyful and satisfying.
But it’s also natural that the role of “mother” changes as the years pass, and as our children move into different stages of their lives and accordingly, away from us.
I got to be a “mommy” three times, and for that I’m forever grateful. Now, it’s time to look past that role, and discover what the next stages of life hold for me.
Plus – maybe, just maybe, I’ll eventually move into the role of “grandma.” Here’s hoping.