Twelve Years a Mother

Angie Warren

Today I awoke and celebrated twelve years of motherhood. The sun was just rising as I shuffled downstairs, began the process of morning tea, and waited, toe-tapping the cool of the tile, for him to come down.

I did as I always do, the night before their birthdays: criss-crossed the house in streamers, hung the traditional "H A P P Y H I R T H D A Y" sign (no that isn't a typo, it literally came that way from Target), and designed a birthday greeting on our chalkboard.

The previous evening my husband laughed as I scrambled for decor, "He will be twelve, you know, you don't have to do this." to which I nearly lept out of my chair and in a mama bear rage roared, "YES I DO." - It's true, I'll be doing it as long as their heads hit their pillows here in our home.

My tea was nearly ready, a splash of cream, a bit of sugar, when I heard him. Round the corner he did, and much to his pleasure, I no longer look down at him, no, my baby, my first born son, now stands at exactly five-foot-two. Just like his mama.

I squeezed him tight and reminded him that really if we're being honest, he wouldn't be twelve until 1:10 in the afternoon, so not until then, until that very minute, would I accept this birthday.

I'm not sure what it is about *this* birthday per say, that has me so emotional. Perhaps every year that passes, we inch closer to the birthday that brings him to manhood. So today, on this big number twelve day, we, his family, were simply together. We made him feel special in big and tiny ways.

I held it together the entire day, through morning donuts and cookie baking, with every phone call that came wishing him a Happy Birthday, I was alright, I was fine even when the clock did the dreaded thing and hit 1:10pm, marking exactly the moment he came earth-side. No, I didn't really lose it until much later in the day.

The tears began to fall instead after dinner. I think it was simply the winding down of the day, the deepness to his voice as he thanked us for his gifts, and the remembrance that it's yet another birthday marked without my mom.

It all sort of crashed in on me and I had to take a moment. I had to acknowledge that it is what it is, there is no stopping the passage of time, there is no changing the emptiness of missing, there is no need to push it down with a glass of wine or stifled tears. No, it needed to flow, and I needed to nod and accept it, and all would be well. And you know, it was.

It's taken years, and trial and (so very much) error, to come to an understanding in this life. I still don't have it down, no, not by a mile, but I believe I'm finally in a space where I can look emotion in the face and nod, a nod of acceptance, and mutual affection.

Yes my babies are growing up, no my mama isn't here to see it, yes there are going to be days I wish I could hide from it all and change it all and throw my hands to the skies and scream at it all. But oh, this one wild and precious life I live, it's meant to be LIVED. Not ignored or rushed through, or wished to be different.

And today, today I believe we did, we lived it, and we lived it well. We celebrated an amazing boy, we made messes, we laughed, we loved. And as the night swallows us whole, I pray that boy sleeps feeling so filled up he just may burst.

I know that's how I feel.

Filled up.
The entire lot of it.

I hope you, do too.

A mama of twelve years.