Reflections on Five Years of Motherhood

A few weeks after my oldest child, Noah, was born, I started thinking about when he would turn five. For whatever reason, that age has always stuck out to me. When he turned five, he wouldn’t be a baby anymore. He wouldn’t be a toddler. He’d be a kid. Which felt really big and scary to me. I’m not sure why I started worrying about it so early. Maybe it was all of the (very true) messages about how the years are so short, or the fear of our relationship changing as he got older. Maybe it was just the unknown of what it would be like to have my itty bitty baby growing into his own little person.

But that day is here now. He’s five years old. The years have truly raced by. I tried my best to make the days linger a little longer, to keep him from growing up so fast. I wrote down every milestone, every sweet or funny story, every first, every big step he took from infanthood to childhood. I took all the photos I knew I would cherish – the gummy grins, hand wrapped around my fingers, his sleepy head on my chest. All of it in an effort to memorialize what I assumed were the golden years of motherhood.

There’s a message that’s whispered to mothers from the moment our babies leave our bellies and are laid in our arms: “Hold onto these moments, because it doesn’t get better than this.” There’s some truth to that sentiment. There really is nothing like that newborn smell, the warmth of a little fuzzy baby head on your cheek, or the feel of a beautiful, wrinkled babe lying on your chest. It’s magical. We should hold onto those memories, because they are so sweet and the moments are all too fleeting.

But in five years of motherhood, I’ve realized that message is only partially true. While it can be heartbreaking to realize that our babies change quickly and we have to say goodbye to certain stages sooner than we’d like, I think new mothers should be encouraged that with the close of every phase comes the opening of a new one.

While I soaked in baby Noah’s tininess and prayed that it would last forever, I didn’t know how sweet it would be when he smiled at me for the first time. I had no idea how I would excitedly cheer him on when he learned to roll over, or how fun it would be to see him begin to understand how to use his hands and knees together to crawl across the floor. I didn’t know that his first clumsy steps would bring tears to my eyes and that with walking, a new season of holding hands on walks together would begin. No one told me how beautiful the sound of “mama” could be coming from the lips of the little one who made me a mother, or how incredible it would feel when he wrapped his arms around me. I didn’t know that watching him learn how to draw and climb and ride a bike and play soccer and read and make friends could fill me with more pride and joy than I ever thought possible. I never considered, as I prayed for him before, during, and after his birth, that hearing him pray aloud in his innocent, childlike, faith-filled way, would move me to tears and rejoicing as I saw the Lord’s promises of raising up a child come to fruition.

My baby turns five today. I won’t lie. There have been tears as I’ve reflected on the most beautiful years of my life. I miss baby Noah. I miss toddler Noah. I know I’m going to miss five-year-old Noah. But five years into motherhood, I also trust that the years to come are going to be incredible, filled with new firsts, new adventures, and new memories that I’m going to want to hold onto forever. Take heart, mamas. The beauty of motherhood lasts far beyond the days when our babies fit in the fold of our arms. In fact, it may only get better from there.

Happy birthday, Noah! I love you all the way to the moon and back, always, always, always.

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