What did those kids do to that nice lady?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bye bye, Baby

The Gelato Children are reaching those ages where Babyhood has completely melted off of their faces and Toddlerhood was just an emotionally challenged, completely fucked up dream I had. Nobody really needs my “help” for anything anymore, although Daughter is still milking the whole ‘Can somebody wipe me pleeeeaassseee’ thing which is FANTASTIC. I have two children who are in school. Not preschool. Like school school. And at least once a week, I get a little weepy about this situation. And each time the tears well up in my eyes, I think DAMN IT! All those well meaning people with their freedom and personal time because their kids were in school school were RIGHT! This whole Child-Raising Experience goes by….well, Way.Too.Fast.

You hear it. You can’t escape it, actually. Friends and strangers alike warn you to enjoy every second as they simultaneously tell you that your baby is going to die with that blanket over the stroller. (Yes. That happened. Son was three weeks old. I was in line at Starbucks, a New Mom with swollen, sore boobs and no sleep and confused about everything and then some lady told me that my baby was going to die. I still hate her.)  And let’s not pretend that every waking second that I had little, little kids I was thinking-THIS IS SO ENJOYABLE TO NURSE A SCREAMING BABY WHILE MAKING A TODDLER A GRILLED CHEESE! I MUST EMBRACE AND REJOICE IN THIS MOMENT!- but as the days passed at a snails pace and the months at a hare’s, and the years in the blink of an eye, there were countless moments where I would stop and take in the pure joy of my babies and wish to keep them forever so small. But still, each year of growth felt like a victory; each added finger to their age meant they were developing more independence and I didn’t have to shadow their every move at the park, or zip every zipper or wipe every butt. (Daughter, ahem, somewhat excluded as previously mentioned.) It happens gradually, all these little things, but they add up and one day you find yourself thinking: Did Son just brush his teeth by himself without even being reminded? Yes. Yes he did. 

How did this happen? How did my firstborn become this boy? How did my baby grow so fast into this girl? Where did my babies go? I miss those babies. I can’t help but tear up each time I see a mom with her toddler and baby at the bookstore or the park or just out and about. I was that lady. I remember her well. That lady is thinking…how can we kill a little time this afternoon? Let’s go to the bookstore. I can get a coffee and you can look at books and that will kill at least an hour of the day. Or-let’s go to Target. I only need lip gloss and toilet paper, but we’ll go ahead and get a coffee and a milk and kill an hour in the toy aisle. How about we go to the fountain downtown? I’ll get a coffee and you can get completely soaked somehow in the trickle of water that runs down and maybe we’ll get lucky and bump into a friend and kill an hour. 

All those hours. Day after day after….year. All that time of just…being. Some days it was hard not to resent those hours as you watched your spouse leave for work. The morning hours before nap time laid out before you like some long stretch of desert in the hot sun. The few hours after nap time when the tick tock of the clock somehow moved even slower, everyone getting cranky and hungry and very thirsty for wine. That long hour of the day where it seemed bath would never end, why do they always pick the longest books and okay okay okay, I’ll sing another song and then finally, after all the negotiating, the promises, the kisses, the hugs, all the night lights on and the door slightly cracked….now…now….it’s time to do the laundry. And then it’s the very end of the day and you stop and wonder what it is you actually….did….all day. Nothing. Everything. Survived to live another day to have another day of the Same.Exact.Thing. 

Every day wasn’t and definitely still isn’t rainbows and unicorns. It’s hard to be home all the time with your kids. While you are being told you have “the most difficult job in the world,” it’s hard not to feel unaccomplished; it’s hard not to feel envious of friends and family going off into the world each day….like…being smart and productive and stuff. And the further away you get from that world, the more impossible it seems to re-enter. 

But I would never, ever take any of the hours back. Because, really, it chokes me up to realize that at 8 years old, I am almost halfway done with my son. And these past eight years, as agonizing as the days could seem, they have gone Way.Too.Fast and all I want is for these hours to slow down. Slow way down. Stretch out before me like a long country road, nothing but sky in front of us.

I’ll work on being productive another day. For now…I’m going to go play two touch in the alley with my Children. After all-this day is almost over. Another one, God willing, waiting for me tomorrow to do the Same.Exact.Thing all over again.

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