Hey mama, did you pee alone today? Because I didn't. In fact, I haven't peed alone in over 8 years. That's right, eight years. I've spent the better part of the last decade without the regular decency afforded to most humans.
First it was the colicky baby that wouldn't let me put him down. I would slip him into his bouncer, frantically taking care of things before he screamed so loud it bothered the neighbors.
Then it was the sleepless baby, her sweet, bright eyes never willingly closing. I spent a full two years without a good night's rest. And bathroom breaks alone? Forget it. I took her with me so that the minute she was occupied I could fall asleep on the floor.
The third baby added a true circus routine to our lives. My littlest one firmly believed the only place to be happy was in my arms, and the ever-revolving door of diaper changes, feeding, naps, and playtime gave me no room to breathe.
Once we started potty training, the bathroom became a place to model what needed to be done. We'd celebrate moving from diapers to toilet, my toddlers cheering me on with just as much gusto as I did for them. Obviously, I also got jelly beans when things went well.
We're a few years down the road now, and this week we officially used our last diaper. My youngest is daytime potty trained, meaning we are down to a few pull-ups and, of course, regular trips to the bathroom together. I still get a rousing cheer when I use the bathroom, and I still rarely pee alone. But I see something new. I see a light at the end of the tunnel. My older kids don't need me in the bathroom anymore, and they are quickly needing less and less of my help in other areas too. This long season of littles has been hard and sweet and good. And now I'm excited for what lies ahead. I already love the conversations and board games and adventures I get to share with my big kids.
I see you, mama. I see you crying on the floor in the middle of the toys, wondering why this is so hard. I see you picking up cheerios off the floor and wishing for a hot meal. I see you at the end of the day, so tired you can barely make it upstairs before you curl up in bed. I see you pulling yourself out of bed night after night to rock the fussy baby or the frightened toddler, willingly sacrificing your sleep for your little one. I also see you laughing with your child, your heart opening wide with love for this little human. I see you pulling your child close, breathing in their baby smell, cherishing these sweet, quiet moments.
Your child sees you too. Those small eyes looking at you see past the spit-up on your t-shirt and the messy bun. They see you. They want to be with you always because you are their world. You are their moon and their stars and their galaxy. They cannot image a world that does not revolve directly around you. Their love for you runs as deep as the ocean and as wide as the sky.
Their small eyes look to you for affirmation, for encouragement, for love. They gauge their mood from your facial expressions. They model their likes and dislikes off your own. This might feel like an overwhelming responsibility sometimes, but really, it's a treasure. Someday these small humans will grow to much bigger humans who roll their eyes when you dance to "Baby Shark" and who think it's dumb that you like to dip apples in peanut butter. So when they insist on going potty with you (or eating out of your bowl or "borrowing" your sunglasses), it isn't to make you crazy. It's to be with the center of their world; to bask in the glory of mama.
Will you ever pee alone again? Probably. Chances are by the time that small human heads off to their first job, they won't be accompanying you to the bathroom anymore. But today when they scream "Good job, mommy!" after you pee? You are seen. You are loved. You are a super hero.
Melanie lives near Raleigh, NC with her husband and three kids. She loves hot coffee, good books, and deep conversations. Connect with her on Instagram via @intentional_motherhood