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Mama, Don’t Cry.

The Delicious Grief of Parenthood

I’m sitting on the side of the cricket field, watching boys becoming men in front of my eyes. I long to shout, That’s my boy! but bite my lip instead. Before we can stop her, one of the moms runs onto the field waving a band-aid… why is letting go so hard?

In my hand, I hold my phone where our eldest son has me glued to the cricket scoring app. He’s at a different venue, blitzing his way to his greatest run rate ever. Richie is there, amongst other moms that are all shouting for Jed like he’s their own. I am missing it, and missing out, and the years are all just going too fast.

A call comes through on my phone… a friend in tears—her last-born baby has just been dropped off at university. It’s a dream come true and a bereavement she’s not quite ready for. Why is letting go so hard?

There is only one relationship on earth where the longer you know a person, the further apart you grow.

Your growing tummy wriggles with a mind of its own, and you long to meet your babe, but you’ll miss this time of having her all to yourself… mama, don’t cry.

She fights her way out to catch a breath of her own, nearly killing you with the pain of her birth… mama, don’t cry.

He pushes away with his tiny fists, kicking at your full breasts. He’s tired of the monotony of a diet created by you… mama, don’t cry.

He wriggles off your lap and crawls into a world of adventure. Curiosity draws him away without a backward glance… mama, don’t cry.

She explains in her sweet mommy voice that she needs to go to Grade R, so you’ll have to manage the new baby without her… mama, don’t cry.

He walks off into his first classroom and joins a group of children. He was so scared before, but now he’s laughing before you’ve had a chance to tear yourself away from where you’re peeping in the window… mama, don’t cry.

He’s borrowing Daddy’s shoes and he seems to have forgotten you exist. In every memory he recounts, he seems to have forgotten you were there… mama, don’t cry.

Sweet sixteen, or so you think, and she’s laughing with her friends, unaware that you hear her whisper, You better not tell my mom! Mama, don’t cry.

There is only one relationship on earth where the longer you know a person, the further apart you grow.

They begin in the very centre of you. Then, with labour pain that lasts long beyond the day of birth, they go from womb to breast, to lap; and then they crawl, walk, run away.

It breaks your heart when it seems that, in their review mirror, you are not quite a person. But the truth is, you’re not less than a person, either. You are the atmosphere in which they grew. Your body, your arms, your home, your love—it is all the womb in which they were knitted into the person they are becoming. The excruciating pain with which they leave—each year slightly more than the last—it is a suffering pain that leaves us with more empty space than we had before. Not just an enlarged womb, but the enlarged emptiness created by the perfectly designed grief of loving and letting go. And when we lean into the letting go we discover that the delicious grief of parenthood has left us with a bigger life, a bigger love, a bigger space for God to fill.

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