In My Teenagers, I Still See My Little Ones

by Mindy Segal
MoMo Productions/Getty

I miss my arms being full of children.

I miss the small hands grabbing my face and kissing me hello when I walked in the door. The smell of your heads as I carried you to bed each evening. The 6 a.m. wake up of you quietly slipping in next to me under the covers, eyes still half closed: “Just a few minutes, mommy” when I told you we needed to get ready for school and work.

I don’t recall the last time that each of you said “Pick me up!”, with your limbs outstretched, trying to extract my hair from beneath your soft, five-year-old arms encircling my neck.

Oh, how I wish I’d known.

Known it was the last time I’d hear your giggles down the hall, jumping in your crib, “Mama, I’m AWAKE!”

Known it was the last time I’d read you a story, “Just one more page, Mommy.”

Known it was the last time I’d stop you in the middle of a city block to tie the dragging laces of your little sneaker. Or get up from a park bench to “push me HIGHER!” on the swings.

Known it’s be the very last time I heard ‘Mommy’ or ‘Mama’ and that forever more, I’d just be ‘Mom’ or ‘she’ when you’re frustrated and feeling especially teenager-ish.

You never know. Maybe that’s purposeful. Maybe it happens, lightning-quick, like ripping off the Band-Aid, so the world continues to spin madly on and these things just happen and then you’re grown, seemingly overnight.

I still see you, little ones.

I still feel your tiny hearts beating against my chest, as you sleep on me, milk-drunk.

I still feel your little palms and elegant-even-as-a-child fingers, intertwined in mine as we cross the street on our next adventure.

I’ll always be your mom.

You’ll always be my babies, even when you’re grown.

I don’t know that I’d have done anything differently.

I just wish I’d known.