The Mystery of the Phantom Limb

In the world of amputees, there is a phenomenon referred to as Phantom Limb. Your arm, your leg, is no longer a part of your body…and yet….you feel it. It itches, it’s painful, it calls to you in the night…it’s gone, and yet somehow it’s not. The reality is the individual’s brain has not yet adapted to the truth that the limb is no longer present, and so it sends messages like telegrams….only there is no one to receive them.

I have noticed of late that I have been experiencing some lower back pain, and so I sought the input of a neighbor/physical therapist. She jokingly informed me that my posture was off, and that I had been placing unnecessary strain on my back….because I was still standing as if I were holding a baby. Thats right… body has muscle memory, and a phantom baby apparently I’m still accommodating for…so weird.

To be fair, I did have a baby in my home for 7 years, and it’s only just now that my last child (now 3) has started leaving the toddler stage. She’s doing so, as she does everything else in life, at accelerated speeds, and I think it took me two months into her first year of preschool to realize it. Things are changing. I have no more babies, and yet I feel an itch.

Each of us are in different stages of life, and each stage, while we are navigating it, feels like the hardest. Sure, some things do get easier…..but honestly little kids have little problems. The truth is parenting never gets easier it’s merely a shape shifter. Then there’s that moment….after you have poured nearly two decades of yourself into shaping another human being…..that they leave.

Your friends with younger kids, claim to envy your approaching season of quiet, while your friends with grown children look at you with knowing glances because the truth is…..quiet is not exactly what you imagined. You are expected by an evolved society to maintain the composure that this life stage demands. This is all normal right?? If kids are supposed to grow up, and we are supposed to be excited for them to do so…..then why is there a pain?

We talk to them on the phone, and can hear their audible excitement as they overflow with delight….about classes, people, jobs, and experiences. We want that to serve as a balm, they are happy….we did good….we raised quality people…and yet we still wake to noises in our house at night only to discover the rooms are empty, and no one is there.

Our brain doesn’t know how to fully rewire itself…..and so our hearts experience phantom limb. The itch, the pain, the memories of children. We grow up in many respects right along with them, and sometimes we don’t realize just how much we have changed, and been changed by the journey of motherhood, until we are left with the quiet aftermath.

To my friends entering new seasons of life…..know you have done your best, and you should feel proud. You have loved, and taught, and nurtured, and now you get to see the person your children will become, and thats even better than achieving quiet…’s witnessing possibility unfolding. Possibility is like capturing fireflies in a jar….it’s simply magic, and we get to share in its beautiful glow.

Do you remember when they were little and you would think….I wish I could see them in the future…just a peak… I can see who they will become?? Well guess what…..that future is happening now. This is the moment you whispered for, as you sat in the dark at 3 a.m., rocking a child who seemed to fight sleep with their every fiber! You worked hard for this moment….and spending too much time reflecting on the then will mean you miss out on the now.

Motherhood lived in technicolor reminds me to look for the joy in every season. As a mother to four young children…even though its hard for me some days to believe it….I acknowledge that time is fleeting, and it passes in the blink of an eye. There are warrior woman who I feel privileged to know, and I hope when my day of quiet arrives I will look half as good as they do navigating it, because the best balm comes not from forgetting….but in the remembering.

Author’s Note: Let me tell you a little social media secret; Facebook doesn’t put every story I post into your news feed. The only way to never miss one of my stories is to add your email to my Motherhood in Technicolor distribution list. Its easy and how many things are really easy….just click on this link, and then enter your name and email on the page. Done. The next time I post a story to my blog page a copy of the story will be sent to your email. There’s also a 83% chance that seeing an email from me in your inbox will totally be a day brightener… what are you waiting for? 🙂

Author: Summer Smith

Summer Smith is a speaker, writer, and motherhood blogger. She and her family are currently navigating the suburbs of Northern Virginia. As the mother to four young children, Summer maintains her sanity thanks to her sense of humor, copious amounts of coffee, and Amazon Prime. Maya Angelou once said, when reflecting on her childhood, that her mother left an impression like technicolor stars in the midnight sky. Influenced by these words, Summer blogs at her website Motherhood in Technicolor, and can also be found on her Motherhood in Technicolor Facebook page.