Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Reflecting on motherhood & my February babies February 7, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:15 AM
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WHEN YOU ARE PARENTING little ones—changing diapers, wiping away boogers, dealing with temper tantrums—you wonder if you will ever have time for yourself again, even just a minute alone to go to the bathroom in peace.

My oldest daughter at 12 days old. Already then she was a Minnesota Twins fan, in this hand-me-down sleeper.

My oldest daughter at 12 days old. Already then she was a Minnesota Twins fan, in this hand-me-down sleeper.

Then, before you know it, your babes are off to kindergarten and the 24/7 parenting eases, even though you never truly stop parenting.

Several years later you are thrust into the turbulent teens which, in many ways, resemble the terrible twos you thought were left behind.

But soon enough, you are sitting on hard bleachers in a stuffy and crowded high school auditorium, a lump in your throat, tears rimming your eyes as your 18-year-old graduates. And in that moment you realize that your child, your baby, has grown up, just like that.

That realization particularly strikes me this February, the month in which my eldest and my youngest were born a day shy of eight years apart.

My 10 lb., 12 oz., son at two days old. He was the biggest baby in the nursery and the hospital did not have diapers to fit him.

My 10 lb., 12 oz., son at two days old. He was the biggest baby in the nursery and the hospital did not have diapers to fit him.

My son, my youngest, started college this past summer, 300 miles away in North Dakota.

His oldest sister fell in love this past year with a native Californian and I thought for awhile that she, too, might leave Minnesota like her brother and sister before her. But instead, the boyfriend moved here, to the Twin Cities.

Distance marks, for me, the most difficult part now of being a mother. Distance equals separation and not seeing my kids as often as I would like. Even though we talk on the phone, text and e-mail, that just is not the same as face-to-face communication or giving them a hug.

I joke to them that I should have locked them in the basement, not allowed them to go anywhere. But they know I jest because I have always encouraged them to pursue their dreams, to travel, to be adventurous. And they are, all three of them.

The eldest is spending her birthday in LA. The son will be celebrating in Fargo. And shortly after those birthdays, the other daughter will drive the 300 miles from northeastern Wisconsin back to Minnesota to board a plane for Argentina, 6,000 miles away. I try not to think about that distance, about her last visit there, when she was mugged.

Instead, I will focus on how blessed I am to be the mother of these three, to have nurtured and loved them, to delight now in the adults they have become, to cherish each moment I have with them.

My three, after the son's June 2012 graduation.

My three, after the son’s June 2012 graduation.

On the birth days of my children, I experienced a love unlike any other, for in their births I understood the enduring depths of a mother’s love.

Happy birthday to my two February babies! I love you now and forever.

To my other girl, I love you too. And remember, “home” is in the Midwest, not South America.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


23 Responses to “Reflecting on motherhood & my February babies”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Aw….sweet post, Audrey!!! It is hard to believe our babies are not babies anymore! Micah texted me a simple “I love you, Momma” yesterday and it reminded me again that even when we don’t see them as much as we would like they still think of us just like we think of them. Happy Birthday to your loves!!!!

  2. Oh, Audrey, why’d you have to make me cry this morning? What a wonderfully written tribute to kids and motherhood.

  3. I have two February babies, too! This Saturday and next Sunday. I so wish we could rewind life sometimes. Not to do it over, but to watch. Play the parts we like best. And fast forward through the bits we don’t like so much! Happy birthday to your kids – and may you be comforted in their absence.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Sometimes I really do struggle to wrap my head around how these years have passed by so quickly. Saturday would be my son’s birthday, so we have kids with the same date of, but not year of, birth. Happy birthday to your two darlings also.

      • Well, Katie and Caleb are in good company! It’s my nephew’s birthday that day, too. He’s turning 5 and loves that connection with his turning-11 year old cousin! I’m not ready for Lucy to be 6 – somehow that sounds a lot older than 5!!

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Well, then, February 9 is one fabulous day in our families, isn’t it? I have a niece who was born in early March. When she was younger, it really bugged her that, for a few weeks, her cousin would be the same age as her. I think (hope) she’s outgrown that as she will turn 20 this March.

      • Let’s hope so, yes!

  4. lanae Says:

    I remember when I came to see you with Cab in the hospital that you warned me to hold him like a new born not a 2-3 month old. He was a big boy!!! Little A. Pamber was a cute little dolly. Our family has 11 birthdays from Feb 9-March 19 if you include Dad who passed away it would have been 12. Lots of cards to send.

  5. Beautiful post – can feel the love you have for your children:) I do not have children, but my nephews feel like mine in a way because I help guide them in their early years – now teenagers – watch out! Happy Thursday

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Every child needs a loving aunt or ten. I have many and they have been such a blessing in my life.

  6. Dorothy Bowman Says:

    Think of your Aunt and Uncle, we have always been away from family. Of course now our two sons are on opposite sides of our country. We do wish we were near them. I miss them all of the time. Do call or skype often to stay in touch. The world is so spread out we are lucky to be near enough to fly or drive to visit. Think of your uncle Robin all of his family is spread from N. Ireland to Spain to Sweden. Really spread out. But family never forgets that family is special! Love you, Aunt Dorothy

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Oh, yes, I did think of this, that in the grand space of the world, having one child 300 miles away to the west and another 300 miles away to the east is really not all that distant. We can easily reach either within about five hours or so by vehicle. I don’t know how you manage having your boys and their families so distant. And Uncle Robin has an ocean separating him from loved ones. That would be tough.

  7. You’ve really got a mother’s love captured here. It gives me a lump in my throat thinking of my two leaving.. I hope they at least stay in the city or close by. I think I saw a saying somewhere.. something about a mother’s job to give children ” ” (can’t remember what?) and then to give them “wings”.. xx

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you. I can’t recall the words of that quote either, but I’ve heard it, too. More or less it’s our task as mothers to raise them to be independent adults. I hope your two stay relatively near. Although you do adjust to their absence, you never really, truly get over their leaving.

  8. Wonderfully written….Feb starts my babies birthdays, with that one up in North Dakota, also.

  9. Jackie Says:

    Is it still weird for you not to have the kids home for their birthdays? I know it is for me. It took me two years to get used to the fact that my oldest boy would not be home to celebrate with his dad anymore… they share the same birthday. I am blessed to have my daughter in town, I still get to make her a cake (my son-in-love lets me) but now my granddaughter is involved in the making, and that’s so fun! and then there’s Gavin, still at home…I still love making his cake even though he needs to fly soon, Your children are so lucky to have a momma that cherishes them no matter where they are. Happy birthday to your babies, you have raised them well!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      After awhile, you do adjust to them not being “home” on their birthdays, although that comes with a tinge of sadness in not being able to celebrate with them. The first time my second daughter missed Christmas with us, because she was living in Argentina, was especially difficult. Then last year she missed Christmas again because she was on call with her job as a Spanish medical interpreter and she lives 300 miles away. We drove out to celebrate on New Year’s weekend. You learn to adjust and to appreciate the times when you can be together.

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