I have a new secret to confess today. Not only did I used to secretly love school cafeteria food (ok, two secrets today) I am TERRIFIED of being the mother of a child rather than the mother of a baby. I’m even more terrified of being the mother of a preteen, even more, more terrified of being the mother of a teen, and even more, more, more terrified of being the mother of an adult. It just seems so…hard. Do you lose that closeness, those cuddles, that proximity? And do you get it back? And do you even want it back at that point or do you want them flying freely in the world?? An old co-worker of mine and I used to talk about our daughters at work.
Mine was 12-months-old at the time; his was 12-years-old. He said something to me that was so authentic and a little depressing, and I know not true for everyone, but it was very true for him. He said, “It’s just not…fun anymore.” And he explained himself to talk about how 12-year-olds are trying to carve out their own lives and independence but they’re still not quite old enough to make great decisions on their own and there’s already so much peer pressure at that age.
I had to separate myself from the conversation and drink in the thoughts of my own then-toddler – pudgy and sweet and attached at my hip. My parents, bless them, raised five grieving kids into five surly and wild preteens and then into five extremely rebellious teenagers and now into five (semi) adults – some married, some with their own kids or their own kids on the way. And I think maybe it gets fun again with adult children and definitely so if they have children. I mean, Scarlet melts every time she sees my mom and they have a blast together and as my mother-in-law says, “The bond between a grandparent and a grandchild is saturated with love.”
Pure love. And I’m glad it’s that way. My parents deserve pure sweetness and adoration from their grandchildren after what we put them through and still put them through! As a dear friend said to me of motherhood at my sister’s wedding last week, “Honey, it NEVER gets easier.” And I know that but do I really know that yet? I’m practically shaking at my desk right now!
Now, babies are another story. I know for many people it’s the hardest stage but it wasn’t for me. Sure, I was up in the middle of the night a lot (a lot!) and she abused my boobs, and she spit up sometimes and once projectile pooped across the room…sure, she did all of that. But that’s expected of babies. I never thought it would be different from that. And sure many people want a baby and they logically know that their babies will grow into big, scary, booger-nosed, whiny kids, and I probably knew that, but did I really know that? No. I didn’t. I can’t see over the fence sometimes. It’s like when I had a senior physics project worth 30% of my final grade due the Monday after prom weekend and when my mom asked me what I was planning to do about it, I said, “What? Who cares? Is there life after prom? Who cares?” (Cut me off if I told you this story before…) And so I went to prom and my sister’s boyfriend did my project for me and I got an “A” and never had to take the final, or physics, ever again. Sometimes I just can’t see the big picture.
Honestly, I love right now – 15 months. It’s a wonderful mix of independence on one hand and separation anxiety on the other. She talks two languages – one is made up of semi English words that she’s learning. The other is a mix of babyspeak gooble garble Klingon. I adore both. And the walking – she walks everywhere. She also falls everywhere. She’s a hybrid creature – part baby/part toddler. There’s just no defining her although Baby Gap damn near tries to. I love now so much. She understands enough to be an opinionated part of our family…but she’s also still such a dopey baby who sleeps in my arms with her thumb in her mouth. Do older kids do that?
Please tell me they do. Please tell me they still need you. And please tell me you LOVE when they go off to school or camp or sleepovers because you get much needed alone time (or alone time with your partner.) I know one day she’s going to talk back to me and slam her bedroom door and go on a roller coaster right after dinner and throw up in the car. I’m scared enough of the kid part, much less the older years when she will surely stay out until 3 am with an older boy or smoke behind the school building. She may even try drinking and drugs, unlike her mom. Most people try. I didn’t. I don’t even know how to deal with it since I never did it.
And then.. you want them to be attractive and do well socially and not be an outcast. However, when you’re older, you’re aware that none of that means anything at all the second you graduate from high school and that people who think it does don’t necessarily soar in adulthood. And we also know that some of the most beautiful women in the world were awkward or dorky in middle or high school. The cute ones don’t always stay that cute. So, do I want my kid to be dorky just to know that it’s character building and will mean she’ll be a knockout later? What. Do. I. Want? And why even think about it when it’s not up to me? I just want her to be her. This motherhood thing…it’s gonna hurt a lot. And then hurt some more.
I hope I’ll remember the sweet days when sore nipples were the worst of my hurt. That will seem like a piece of cake compared to seeing her suffer through her first broken heart. Ah, it hurts to think about. And I guess that’s enough in the future that I won’t worry about it right now. Right now, even kindergarten scares the daylights out of me. Boot-shaking fear.
Does everyone go through this? I suppose there are people who can’t wait to get through the baby stage because they’re excited to talk to and reason with their children. Reading books, going to museums, talking about it all. It’s cool, but for right now I’m going to go cuddle with my baby/toddler/alien. Time doesn’t go quite as fast for me as people tell me it will.
I’m linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday with this blast from the past. This week’s topic is “Scared..” And there’s still plenty of time to write yours. Come link up with your spin: HERE.