My daughters were digging in the basement and unearthed this Superman mask which was a trinket that was given away at my oldest's fourth birthday party. I nearly gasped with memory when they handed it to me. Holding it in my hands caused a nearly visceral stream of memory to rush through my being. Tears stormed my eyes as my girls looked at me quizzically and I knew they were wondering why a paper mask was making Mommy teary.
The tears were not all sadness. They were full of the bittersweet joy of motherhood. The joy of the growing, the learning, the love of watching them become these incredible beings. The sadness of knowing that they will not be yours forever and the years will pass ever so quickly.
I showed my son the mask and he laughingly placed it on his head, remembering that fourth birthday party that was nine and a half years ago. That day it had been two loose on his tiny, preschool head and I had needed to tie the elastic tighter. Today it was too small for the face of the young man before me. When he removed it, still smiling- I saw the peach fuzz on his upper lip and I was reminded that soon he will be learning to shave and all of the other myriad of things that comes with becoming a man. Even though just yesterday he was my baby, he will soon be a man.
I swallowed the lump in my throat as I told him of my memories of that day. I remembered much more than he. Such is the memory of motherhood. It reminds me of Matryoshka, those Russian nesting dolls that lie inside one another, each one smaller than the last. I hold inside me the memories of my children, the memories of each age carefully tucked inside the others for safekeeping. I wonder if my children know how full my heart is with these memories. That they keep me warm on cold nights and give me strength on the hardest of days. I hope they know how blessed I have been by all of the memories- even the lousy ones.
There are days of emptiness. And, yet- I am full. I have everything I need in these carefully preserved memories inside me. Even as I strive for more for myself, I know that at the end of my life being gifted with these three precious beings was more than enough.
I hope that heaven is a place where I get to relive these days with my children over and over and over again. What a lovely place that would be.