The “Last, First Last” – An Open Letter

Dear Mother Who Changed Three Diapers While Screaming At Her Kids Before The Race,

To answer your question, yes – this is “it.” This strong willed, soft-hearted girl is “it” for me. I’m used to hearing “time for another one yet?” and “Aww, you have to have one more!” So, your over-used comments and your tarnished respect for a mother who isn’t just like you (and the majority of mothers) is something I’ve learned to freely let go of.

What struck me is your canned, assumed mindset: “Must be nice!”

Sure, mom of three overly-energized, wild children. In many respects, it is “nice.” It’s “nice” to focus all of my time, attention, and effort on the one, tiny human being who makes me whole. It’s “nice” to put one child in bed and have time to myself immediately afterwards. It’s “nice” to spend my days and nights with one, mostly easy-going little girl who tells me I am her best friend.

All of that is very “nice.”

What you fail to internalize is that pressure I face, brought on solely by father time, to understand that every moment is more fleeting than I realize. There will not be another “first race.” There will likely not be another “first” of anything that has been ironed, folded, and neatly tucked away in dresser drawers of the past.

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Never again will I put her into a jogging stroller for the first time, my hands shaking as I adjust the straps and cover her tiny feet with the blanket she was wrapped in at the hospital.

Never again will I dress her for her very first race, suddenly becoming irate about the size of her shoes and frantically trying to feel my way to where her toes are.

Never again will I whisper the words “It’s your first race ever – this is very special” despite a two year old’s perception of how time actually passes.

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Please respect that every “first” for her and I is every “last first.” Not “the last first with my oldest” or “the last first with my middle child” or “the last first with my third and final baby.” Let that sink in: Every first, is our last first.

We spend moments and days and hours fiercely swimming through and blindly navigating our own lives. Time as mothers becomes measured by the amount of times we are asked the same question or the last ten minutes before bedtime that feel like an utter eternity.

Your “moments” and mine are different. I don’t want your life; I don’t want your moments. I don’t want to corral three kids who can’t stand still for more than four seconds at a time. No, I don’t want to spend two hours per night wrestling multiple children to sleep. You are correct – I would rather have a quiet, clean house to keep my sanity.

But, mom-of-three – I respect your moments. I respect that your cup overflows, sometimes in the most overwhelming of ways, on a daily and an hourly and a minute-to-minute basis. I give you more credit than you realize for getting out of the house and to a kid’s race on time.

And all I am asking for is that same respect. You don’t want to be me, and I don’t want to be you – but making such assumptions about my life and my choices undermines all the very real, raw reasons that went into my decision to make her my one and only.

I don’t expect an apology; I wouldn’t call myself offended. All I ask is that you understand that every decision in motherhood, including the decision to quit making decisions, comes with a price to pay.

You’ll yearn for some sleep, some quiet.

I’ll yearn for one last, poor rendition of “Six Little Ducks” in that pink chair in the nursery, the one stained with the salt of tears and aged with art of persistence.

In the silence or chaos of the early morning hours, I respect your moments and you can respect mine.

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