My Mundane is Their Childhood.
My oldest turned FIVE this past week.
I've tried REEEALLY hard to resist writing about it, but...you guys. I can't help it. This transitional birthday has me waxing philosophical. I don't think I can say it any differently than any other mother has before me...so: HOLY HANNAH HOW DO THEY GROW UP SO FAST!?
Maybe it's such a big deal because I often feel like my life is stuck on re-runs. (Moms who have experienced raising little kids....amiright?)
I'm slogging through mundane tasks. Necessary, but mundane...and trying...somewhere...to find time to do things that are "Laura" and not just "Mommy and Wife and Homemaker." Sacred roles, just not my only roles.
There are days that are perfect and heavenly... and there are days that are just hard and awful. Often there are days that seem like they will NEVER END and I'm doing the SAME THINGS over and over again and, seemingly, getting nowhere. I'm trying to resist the hamster wheel metaphor.
Then, suddenly, there are moments that sear through the daily tedium like a bolt of lightening, flashing open the white-hot truth that someday...it will be over.
Like your baby turning five.
Now, we are standing here, staring down kindergarten in a few weeks. SCHOOL! Her pre-school days are suddenly...done. OVER! That part of her life complete. WHAT!?
And this phase that has consumed me---these days of all of my preschooler-babies hovering and whining and clinging and giggling and snuggling around me on a near-constant basis---is suddenly sliding into a different era altogether, an era where our routine (because now that there's school, we have to have an actual routine...right? Ha.) involves crosswalks and backpacks and peanut-free snacks. I am suddenly struck with the beauty and agony that time marches on, even if it does feel frozen in daily battles to get them to try a bite of dinner. Suddenly, the diapers will disappear. Suddenly, they'll have "indoor-shoes." And suddenly, they won't crawl into my lap to snuggle anymore.
I wish I could remember that better, more constantly.
Maybe then, the understanding of how quickly these days will be over would feel like this beautiful and aching truth that hovers like a glow around my day, informing every mothering decision and response with sweetness and appreciation...as opposed to this lighting-has-struck realization that seems to flash without warning, and leave me squeezing them too tight while they laugh and squirm saying, "Okaaay, mom, I won't grow up like a big kid! Just let me goooo!"
When I think of my childhood, those moments that imprinted themselves into my memory for one reason or another...it strikes me now how ordinary the memories are, how plain they must have seemed to any observer, my mom, even: sitting in our kitchen, eating a bowl of cereal, wondering how much sugar I could get away with sprinkling onto my Rice Krispies... running away from the boys through the bushes of our townhouse complex, wild and free....my mom pulling out craft supplies so we could make something amazing. Calling to my friend over our backyard gate while batting my eyelashes as fast as I could so she would laugh.
I wonder if my mom could see and feel the magic of a memory making its place in my head and heart. Or maybe it was just another morning of cereal for breakfast, just another day of letting me play outside, just another activity to keep me and my sister busy so she could have a moment of no fighting. Maybe the things that made my childhood...were simply all of the normal things that felt...so...normal and mundane and eternal to my own mother. That rocks me! Because it means all of those things that I'm just trying to "get through"...are their childhood! These small, seemingly insignificant moments, these daily ins and outs, are their sweet memories that they will look back on with (fingers crossed...) fondness and tender nostalgia.
And, all at once, the diapers aren't so bad. In fact, I kind of love the little moments and smiles we share while I sing songs to get my baby to lay-the-heck-STILL. And the constant barrage of requests and needs and wants...and the chubby arms around my neck, wet kisses on my cheeks, and EVEN the boogers on the shoulder of my shirt...seem just a little sweeter than they did before. Sweet, sweet boogers.
On my now-five-year-old's birthday, we went for a walk along the beach with giant ice cream cones. I was holding her hand and she was telling me things. Five-year-old things. We walked by a group of teens climbing on a giant rock and trying to get their friend, who had the same name as my daughter, to climb up with them. She looked about 15, and rolled her eyes with a half-smile, refusing to climb up with them, but still jumping in the picture. And I saw my little hand-holding ice-cream holder, 10 years in the future. I thought of all the things I hoped she'd be at that age...soft, strong, confident, kind. And I felt, so strongly, the importance of what I am doing, with her, with all my kids...simply being there, every day. I hoped that it would kind of be my fault, just a little, if she did turn out to be those wonderful things. And I felt a deep desire to dig in a little more, a little better, into enjoying their childhood, too...boogers and all.