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Before you feel lost in motherhood, read this

If you’ve ever felt like you were lost in motherhood, or losing yourself in the process, read this. I hope it reassures you to know that you are not alone, and you are not wearing away. You’re just becoming who you were meant to be: a mother.


“Mommy, this lovey has boo-boo!” My two year old held up his brother’s Lion Lovey, concern edging his voice.

My five-year old stopped bouncing on the bed long enough to snag his worn lion lovey back into his arms. I yawned, still waking up, and said, “No, honey, it’s just been loved so much.”

But my littlest couldn’t let it go:“See, here, boo-boo!” He pointed to the stuffed toy’s head. I looked again. Indeed, on inspection, what I’d thought was a stitch mark was a small hole in the terry fabric of the lion lovey’s forehead.

tale of two lion loveys

Now I was awake, and concerned as well. With no fabric left, there was nothing I could repair on this dear toy. As it was, Lion Lovey’s arms and legs were already in shreds from my son’s post-pacifier chewing.

My oldest son stuck a finger though the hole he’d bitten in the lion’s arm as a two year old. He twirled the lion around and around his finger, grinning. Then he grabbed his second Lion Lovey, even more worn than the first, and happily swung them both around and around in the air.

My heart twirled in a cyclone of emotions as I watched him play with these two ragged toys. But I had to smile at the story of how he ended up with two Lion Loveys. 

It’s rather an unusual story. 

tale of two lion loveys

Oh yes, he has two identical Lion Loveys…

…in early 2012, when he was two, we drove to New York City with a friend. Since I hauled him out of bed so early, my son clutched Lion Lovey (#1) on the way to the car and held him tightly on the long drive. 

But somehow, between New York City and our return home, the little lion went missing. After weaning him off the pacifier, he had attached strongly to this Lion Lovey (along with four “flat loveys,” which were merely cloth wipes he grew fond of as a baby). To ease the pain of losing his favorite lovey, I told my son that lion lovey had stayed in New York City on vacation. 

Then I hopped on Amazon.com and quickly ordered a new lion lovey! Hence, Lion Lovey #2 joined our home. 

Maybe eight months later, my friend called. She had discovered the first lion lovey in the sliding door track of her van! Lion Lovey #1 returned home! Instead of being confused, my son was delighted to find his loveys had multiplied.

But now the two lion loveys were disappearing right before our eyes. 

My heart tore a little, seeing those much-loved and squished and tossed and hugged and snuggled Lion Loveys clutched in my growing boy’s hands. 

These lions had been lost and found, and now we were losing them again.

“Be gentle, honey, those little guys are wearing out,” I cautioned.

He froze. He looked down at the two lions, now laying still in his hands. He saw, perhaps for the the first time, their tattered paws, the stringy legs, and the small hole like a teardrop on one of the lions.

He lifted his eyes to mine, sparkling blue pools brimmed with tears.

Tears filled my eyes too, watching him struggle with this new emotion: loss. Nothing. Not one thing. Has ever moved him to tears like this.

We leaned into each other, his body shaking against my shoulder. I cried with him. 

For Lion Loveys, 

for their comforting squishiness, 

for their soft and ragged legs, 

for their terrycloth sides kissed and hugged to smoothness.

I knew he knew: even all our happy memories would not bring Lion Lovey back in all his glory.

They’ve been loved so much. We’ll be happy for all those years of love,” I promised, wrapping my arms around him in a soft and ragged hug.

tale of two lion loveys

When you feel lost in motherhood

I thought how much I was like those raggedy Lion Loveys.

I wonder if every mom has their Velveteen moment. This was mine. 

In The Velveteen Rabbit, the Skin Horse talks about how a toy becomes Real: “It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time.

Five years earlier, a bit before Lion Lovey #1 arrived, I held this boy in my arms for the first time. In those bright-and-shiny elated days of new motherhood, I didn’t feel like a mom. I felt stiff and awkward in this role. 

Sometimes it felt like a dream I would wake up from. As though any day, someone would ring the doorbell and say, “Thanks for watching him,” and I’d turn out to be no more than the babysitter.

Motherhood did not feel real for a long time. I mothered through many years feeling like I had lost my previous self, but hadn’t found my new self as a mom. I wondered when this would all feel Real. 

It didn’t happen all at once for me…

it took a long time, but all the way I was becoming.

And by the time his brother came along, motherhood wore more comfortably. It became more familiar. It softened me.

But instead of wearing out, like the lion loveys, motherhood was more of a wearing in process. 

My baby boys. My loveys. 

They’ve worn me in and worn me out, 

worn me round and round in endless tiny battles, 

and I thought I’d wear away some days… 

but instead, I became Real.

There’s that “Velveteen moment” when you feel like you’re wearing away. When you feel like you’ve lost part of yourself in this process of constantly loving others.

Yes, the years unravel and are lost. But your love will never be lost.

The years of baby sighs and midnight cries wore away to toddler wont’s and why’s

His first smiles, first laughs, first teeth, first words, and first steps gave way to his first somersaults, park slides, roller coaster rides, and first words-read-by-himself.

All those kisses, hugs, and snuggles, and I barely noticed his chubby cheeks wearing off into a little boy’s angled face. Barely noticed his pudgy legs lengthening into strong pumping legs that run far and wide.

Year after year peels away leaving small holes where something once was and isn’t any longer.

There are ragged moments when loving so much has worn you thin. As babyhood fades to toddlerhood and deepens to boyhood and manhood, it does hurt. And that is when you know the velveteen truth: “When you are Real, you don’t mind being hurt.

When they’re sleeping, cheeks rounded by the pillow underneath. I see something familiar in those pursed lips and that tumbled hair. My eyes play tricks, seeing the baby in the boy.

As they grow, I’ll keep looking for glimpses of the boys who helped me become Real. 

*** 

My five year old’s sobs slowed. He held his lion loveys a little more gently. 

Floppy arms and legs, and completely missing hands, they still bravely held their string smiles. They hadn’t minded being loved so much, being worn and torn and hugged and kissed to bits. 

I held my heart a little more gently too. 

I have loved so much. And I have been loved so much. And it’s Real.

tale of two lion loveys
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Lynn B

Sunday 24th of May 2015

OMG so beautiful, this made me cry! Beautifully written and "good" timing, I just had baby two (and final one) 2 months ago and I see my 3 year old and he looks soooo grown up! Makes me miss the baby he was.

Lynn B

Sunday 24th of May 2015

OMG so beautiful, this made me cry! Beautifully written and "good" timing, I just had baby two (and final one) 2 months ago and I see my 3 year old and he looks soooo grown up! Makes me miss the baby he was.

Deborah

Saturday 23rd of May 2015

I love this post! :)

And I love the idea of the writing workshop. (I'll have to see if I can catch up on what's been happening over here on your blog...)

Deborah

Saturday 23rd of May 2015

I love this post! :)

And I love the idea of the writing workshop. (I'll have to see if I can catch up on what's been happening over here on your blog...)

Trisha W.

Saturday 23rd of May 2015

Thank you for sharing your story. My kids had some hand made quilts that I didn't want destroyed. So at a certain point I "retired them" to try to preserve the quilts for my kids when they move out and perhaps have a child of their own.

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