Looking Forward by Looking Back

I’ve been doing a monumental amount of looking forward by looking back lately. I’m absolutely certain it has to do with this indefinable space of my life right now, were I’m learning to let go of everything I’m comfortable with, everything I’m used to, and being forced to look forward for the magic that is sure to come.L, J and J lake

Something really surprising has happened during this process. Something that has really made me stop and think about motherhood in a new way. Something that has caused me to question what memories I’ve chosen to hang onto, and how I choose to define the new path motherhood is about to lead me on.

Looking back on my first born, I vividly recall the sleepless nights, the insecurities, and the absolute amazement that I would be responsible for this little six-pound creature for the rest of my life. And I also remember the screaming.

She was what I considered a difficult baby. She rarely slept, nursed often, and always wanted to be on the go. She followed everything with her eyes, and struggled mightily to get what she wanted. After a few months of sleep deprivation and the desire to make life just a little bit more bearable, I realized that if instead of trying to set up a nursing schedule, or hoping that the bouncy chair would last long enough for me to get the dishes done-if instead of trying to make her fit my needs, I tried to fit hers, life would, or at least could, find a better rhythm. I discovered that if she looked forward, she was happy and content.L and mom Mike's wedding

It wasn’t until I was flipping through my old photo albums recently that the impact of this change really resonated with me. All she has ever wanted in her life is to look forward. She never liked being confined or fitting into someone else’s dreams. It wasn’t so much a selfish outlook on life; what she was really asserting, from a very young age, is her desire to move through life looking just ahead of where she was at the present moment. She wanted to see it all, not wait for life to pass her by.

In nearly every photo I have of her during her first six months she is smiling, a strong arm securely wrapped around her middle, facing forward, bright blue eyes shining.

L and John forward

In a few months she’ll embark on her first great adult adventure. She’ll have chosen her home for the next four years, her life ready to unfold in front of her. And I can relax a little now; I can exhale the air I’ve been holding for so long. I can trust that this grown up creature will make good choices and will let her wishes be heard. I can release my grip just a bit now, knowing she’s secure enough to go in the right direction alone. And I know she’ll face college just like she’s tackled every other challenge in the last 18 years – facing forward.

This post was inspired by the novel Reasons My Kid Is Crying by Greg Pembroke who captures frustrating yet hilarious parenting moments through perfectly captioned photos of unhappy kids. Join From Left to Write on April 15 we discuss Reasons My Kid Is Crying. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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9 thoughts on “Looking Forward by Looking Back

  1. I loved this post! I have three years until I “let go'” of my oldest and let him choose his home for the next four years. He’s always been a hold on and hide behind my leg kind of kid, so I hope that he is able to find his way like yours has.
    Eva @ SocaMom.com recently posted…Enter to Win VIP Entry to the Mother of All Baby Showers #giveawayMy Profile

    1. Hi Eva,
      It’s amazing how much kids can change in high school…he might just surprise you with his independence,especially when it’s time to choose what happens next in life. It’s always interesting to see where life takes us (and them), isn’t it? Thanks for the comment! ~Jennifer

  2. […] Jennifer Wolfe from mamawolfe learns to look forward by looking back to the past. […]

  3. Jennifer I really related to this! And I just love it! My son is a freshman in high school, but I can already see the writing on the wall. He is spreading his wings and taking practice flights, he is finding his own place in the world. It exciting, and marvelous to see, but it’s also a bit scary! I love how you are looking back by looking forward. I will take your advice!
    Kathy Radigan recently posted…Time to Take Care of MomMy Profile

    1. Kathy, the flight through high school is pretty amazing to watch. I’m so glad to hear your son is testing his wings, and that you have the courage to let him figure it out. The best gift we can give our children is our support while they figure out what life is like! ~Jennifer

  4. Michelle L says:

    I love your post! She is precious! My daughter is the same way, always looking forward. Luckily we have a while (11 more years) before I have to let go!!
    Michelle L recently posted…Reasons My Kid Is CryingMy Profile

    1. Hi Michelle! Thank you – and enjoy those 11 years, ok? They are the most important years to establish your daughter’s sense of self-confidence, and for her to know that mom is her biggest cheerleader. Parenting is awesome! ~Jennifer

  5. It’s hard letting go.
    I mean, sometimes it REALLY sucks…
    all the steps…all the prayers…all the memories.
    …but if we look at these changes more like beginnings than endings…
    it helps w/ these transitions.
    A bit.
    xx Great post, Mama W.
    My Inner Chick recently posted…11 Things I’ve Learned Since Your MurderMy Profile

    1. “changes more like beginnings than endings…”, my friend Kim, thank you. I’m trying to do exactly that! Transitions are hard for me, but I’m realizing it is where I myself need to grow. Thank you. ~Jennifer

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