A Full Time Referee

Mary's four sweet little ones are in a very busy time of life; constantly creating, snacking, scoring, jumping, farming, playing, and of course, battling. When Mary's first two were just babes, her neighbour had kids in this stage of life, and warned her "Oh, just wait for this, it is like being a full time referee", which Mary of course casually brushed off at the time. Now she laughs a little as she realizes that indeed she has become a full time referee herself. And of course, with the older ones in school, the dynamics are constantly changing.

Being a full time referee can be draining at times, and having a village around you can be everything. Mary has embraced her village by participating in a weekly coffee break and bible study for moms, and it has brought her the connections, the insight, and the respite to the world of adulthood that makes it possible to keep the referee in the game. I have now made it to a couple of these sessions and can see why she so values those moments and relationships.

Managing the changing dynamics can be a challenge, but observing them is such an interesting part of the motherhood journey. The littlest one is now the wild-card, and the game of choice is to see who can add her to their team. Of course, she has quickly learned to play right into this hand, choosing new allies each day, and making it known when she tires of being the plaything.

When you are so caught up in those early days of baby land, it seems that every moment has a new milestone; first teeth, first words, first steps... it seems sometimes like once all those great big firsts are over, the thrill will somehow fade. Yet the new milestones, while farther apart, are so big... each one a step closer to our biggest achievement and also, secretly, one of our biggest fears. They are growing more capable, more unique, and more independent. Growing closer to being a person who will one day stop needing us, because that is what we have raised them to do. And so we soak in every beautiful moment as they learn to read independently, and as they embrace their passion for hockey, and we savour this time when a few dolls can create an entire universe of possibility.

So during the fellowship at church this Sunday we were reminded by a mother just a few years ahead in her journey that we would miss these little ones rolling under the table at our feet. Reminded that as we enter the phase of being a friend, a guide, and a support, we will actually miss the days of wiping bums, carrying an extra body everywhere that we go, and being needed almost more than we can bear.

That is why these sessions mean so much to me; because sometimes these moments are hard to embrace when we are amidst the chaos, yet every wise mother has told us the cherish them.

One day we will long to step back to this moment, and in a way, we will actually be able to relive it. This is a gift to our future selves.