Motherhood started before I ever planned it or thought I was ready. When my first child was 10 months old, I winked at my husband over Chinese takeout and said,” Let’s get going on the next one, this pregnancy business is not something I look forward to.” And there I was, 35 years old with two kids under two and for about two years, life was hazy. A blur. A survive each day kind of life for about two to three years. Nowadays, I look at friends’ Instagram feeds and see all the pictures other moms take of the baby stage and think, I didn’t even document half of the happenings of babyhood. How do they seem to get the time to get pictures of every little stage and step, and be nostalgic about it?!
You see, I was a stay at home mom until my youngest was two and a half years old. It was time for me to go back to work for many reasons. One was money, and the other was I felt like a “caged animal.” I got going at this gig a little later than most of my other mom friends…I had had a life of freedom, career, adventure, travel, craziness and a lot of motherhood became a monotony, a selfless life of taking care of their every whim. That sounds bad, but it was a struggle to go to play dates and moms groups and the MOA twice a week for me. I wanted a little more “me.” Time to breathe and take in the world around me while actually being able to go to the bathroom alone. I remember holding a baby in my arms while picking a toddler off the floor and thinking “grow up, already!” One day, I calculated the years till my youngest would go to Kindergarten and her brother soon after on a napkin during nap time. I simply couldn’t wait for them to be less reliable on me for e’ry little darn thing.
Moms with older kids in the checkout lane would say, “Don’t blink! One day they will be all grown up and want nothing to do with you!” I think I even said, “I wish!” to one of them and pushed my cart out the door with a wave. The wisdom of one of these said mommas came in a much kinder tone when I was in the thick of teething with my infant son and the terrific two’s with my daughter, a rather dark time. This one hit home. She said, “The days are long, but the years fly by.” Yeah, yeah, that one made me stop for a bit.
And then it happened. It was not foreseen by me, nor my husband. It started with them wanting to play together, outside, without me sitting close by watching. “Mom, read your book!” “I don’t need you.” My daughter asked last summer when she could go to the park by herself. She was 5.5 years old. And we can see the park from our house. “Not till you’re 13!” I exclaimed.
And then it hit me. They are going to go places without me. They are going to be dropped off at a building rather than have me hold their hand and discover the world along side them. I won’t always be able to point out the details and explain the teachable moments. I won’t be able to wipe the Nutella off their chin. I won’t be the first one to see them discover something they have never seen.
I boo-hoo’d all morning when my daughter boarded the bus last September. She laughed and said “You wanted this, Mommy!” when she saw my tears. She was confident, she was ready, she was brave.
The latest push came a couple weeks ago while we were on vacation in Cancun. We had taken them the year prior. We showed them the ocean and played in the waves and in the pool. We had virgin mango smoothies and watched cartoons in Spanish at bedtime. This year was different.
They noticed other kids their age and saddled up to them while floating in the pool. “What’s your name? I’m Tatum. Can I play with that?” And they were off. They wanted to go to Kids Club one afternoon. They woke the next day asking to be dropped off there when it opened. I went back a couple of hours later to have them hit the beach with my husband and I. To no avail. They wanted to stay with their friends because it was more fun there.
Be careful what you long for. The shift comes. It comes fast. My baby is going on 5 next month. He still cuddles with me every morning. But, mainly because I beg. I am doing a good job. I know I am. I have given them the confidence to go out in this big, bad world. I just didn’t know it would happen so soon.
A Blubbering Mess