Nostalgia in progress

Feb 2, 2011 at 3:00 a.m. ET

In this installment of Listen to Your Mothers, Geralyn Broder Murray wonders if she is indeed, the sappiest mother in America.

mother and daughter

I'm not sure exactly what we're doing -- putting on shoes, maybe -- but I'm scrunched down on my knees in Finn's room early one morning and he has his tiny hand placed comfortingly on my shoulder. For once, he's looking down into my eyes and is doing it quite sternly, like a police officer who has pulled me over for something but wants to talk about it really, really nicely.

"Mama, I promise," he begins.

"What Finn? What do you promise?" I say, just the slightest bit teasingly.

"Today Mama, today I will take off my sweatshirt before nap and after nap, I promise I will put it back on before I go outside for recess. I promise," he says, with a look so sweet I feel my blood sugar spiking.

"Thank you, Finnie," I say and mean it. The sight of my four-year-old running toward me after school in the January cold with just a thin shirt on sends my heart dropping to my knees, wishing I were the kind of mother who would not risk being away from her darling boy long enough to allow cold to enter his body.

Listen to your mother

And later, when Reese stops me on my way out the door to work and serenades me with God Bless America -- "I'm the song leader this week Mama and this song is so wonderful, you have to hear it!" -- I hang on every word, her thin, angelic voice lighting up the playroom:

God Bless America

Land that I love

Stand beside her

And guide her

Through the night with a light from above

From the mountains, to the prairies

To the ocean, white with foam.

God bless America, my home sweet home.

God bless America, my home sweet home.

She finishes, lingering awhile on "home."

"Oh, Reese," I say, overcome.

And she knows exactly what I mean. She runs over to me in her pink dress and pink boots and wraps herself around me, breathing hard against my neck. Our hearts press together and I have no intention of ever letting go.

But then I do. Time to go to work. To school. Out and about. We peel away from one another like sticky band-aids. She skips off to play "teacher" and I slink out the door, wondering how my baby became this gorgeous girl with two new big kid teeth, who knows how to multiply and play Love Somebody on the piano.

This is what it's like to be the sappiest mother in America, I suppose -- always seeing the sweetness and then missing it almost at the same time, knowing the moment won't happen in exactly that way ever again. I wish I could simply stay lost in the magic of the moment, just embrace it, instead of seeing it from a distance already. I wish, as Finn would say, longing for something beyond reach, I wish.

>>How do you handle the passing of time with your children? How are you present in their magical moments? What means the most to you in your everyday encounters with your little ones?

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About Listen to Your Mothers

Only another mother knows the truth about motherhood. The sleep deprivation. The preponderance of plastic, neon-colored toys that make horrible, repetitive noises in the middle of the night. The battles: just eat two more bites of your corndog for Mommy and you can have dessert.

The messiness and heart and complexity that is raising children: it's all so very humbling.

Listen to Your Mothers is a space to come together with the ones who understand the maternal struggle and joy best - in the hopes of turning the motherhood into one, strong sisterhood.

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