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Looking Back on Seventeen Years of Motherhood

Happy Mother’s Day to all my readers who are moms! I am writing a personal installment today. If you’d like to read other Mother’s Day posts from me, click here and here

Mother’s Day always falls at an interesting time of year for me. My wedding anniversary and my second daughter’s birthday are back to back, and within the same week of Mother’s Day.

Castle family photos

I used to feel it was sort of unfair to have these events so close together, because in a way they over-shadowed each other. Now, as both events are well into the double-digits (19 and 16 years, respectively), I mostly feel amazed at the amount of time that has passed.

These closely timed events drive home the reminder that it is all going so fast.

Where did the years go?

kids at the zoo

In my early momming years, I didn’t work as a dietitian.

Yes, for nine years I had the luxury of staying home full-time.  I did the work most full-time stay-at-home moms and dads do. Those first nine years were an incredible influence on my career as a pediatric dietitian.

There’s nothing like practicing what you preach.

During those nine years, I was birthing four babies, breastfeeding, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, giving baths, playing outside, working puzzles, and playing “hard-covered toys” (read: Legos and hard plastic dinosaurs).

I managed nap time, doctor’s appointments and play dates.  I tried to take care of myself by running, entertaining, and sticking to a day-to-day schedule.

My daily “wins” were getting the laundry done by 10:00 am, getting the nappers to take their naps, and preventing the non-nappers from waking them up.

Yes, getting meals on the table that were mostly healthy (and eaten) was also a daily goal.

When I was knee-deep in dirty diapers, spit up and picky eating, my older mommy friends used to say,

Just wait for the teen years—you’ll look back on this and think it was a cake walk.

At the time, I couldn’t imagine things could be any harder. Raising young children was a physically demanding job—exhausting and never-ending.

Then, when my youngest child started his second year of pre-school, I started to dip my toe in the waters of pediatric nutrition work. By the time he was entering Kindergarten, I was opening my private practice, and the juggling act began.

Work, homework, after-school sports, drama, voice, Forensics, swimming, volleyball, soccer—these post-school day events made up my “2nd day.”

I worked during the day in my business, then morphed into a taxi-driving, carpooling, sideline sports supporter, and all with a smile on my face (mostly).

Oh yes, and then there was dinner, laundry, packing lunches, picking up the house, grocery shopping and all the other household chores.

No longer did my babies needs naps and diaper changes. They needed homework support, friendship advice, and stiffer boundaries.

I needed a calendar to keep track of every child’s life, and our family events. An address book to remind me which mom went with which friend, and GPS to make sure I ended up where I was going.

Life was about getting the work done and raising good kids (and still is), but juggling a business and a family took every bit of my stamina, and my skill set.

Kids all grown up

As I said, this week of Mother’s Day, birthday and anniversary has been particularly bittersweet. A lot of life has been lived already in this family of mine.

I am in a new phase now, living with three teenagers and one almost-teen.

Honestly, this stage feels like being on the Acela train: it’s fast and there are few stops along the way. I’m well aware and ready for the destination, but I also want to get off.

I want to slow it down.

My oldest will be a senior next year. She doesn’t need me to keep track of her schedule– she’s got that under control. She doesn’t even need me to drive her anywhere because she has a car.

She doesn’t ask for money because she has a job. And her daily ups and downs are discussed with her friends, saving the big mistakes and heartbreak for my hubby and I.

My other three children aren’t very far behind her. In a handful of years, the harsh reality is that they will all be gone and beginning their own adult lives.

And while the goal has always been to launch young adults who are ready for the world, the truth is the launch will be hard. There is so much of me in these kids.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard,

“Savor the years, they go so fast,” when my kids were young. 

Not that I would be rich as a result, but I would have concrete evidence that this advice has been there, always, for me and for every mom.

Instead, I’m sure I suppressed my eye-roll and smiled, nodding my head in agreement, while reminding myself how long the days were and how tired I was.

The naïve mother in me could not appreciate what these well-intentioned mothers who had ‘been there, done that’ were telling me.

But I do now.

The last seventeen years have flown by. I can’t stop, reverse, or change them.

But those years are mine to hold. And I will hold them in my heart forever.

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