Lately I find myself particularly weepy over the big leaps in independence both of my children are making. Of course, I'm so excited that Rory is finally sleeping through the night (knock on wood)! But at the same time, I miss our midnight dream feeds with her sweet soft warmth against my chest. Shep is now pointing out the color of...well, everything. He's stringing together words and repeating darn-near everything I say, even if it's not something I remember ever teaching him.
I asked Shep to pick up his toys, which he did. After his lunch, I gave him a popsicle (half of a popsicle, for the record) and made a point to thank him for being so cooperative and helpful. He was very pleased with himself - and I could tell he was excited to enjoy the treat. Magically, he chose to say, "Thank you" unprompted! We practice saying it often, but he hasn't ever said it of his own volition before. Of course, I told him he was welcome. And then I quietly slipped around the corner to sob a little bit. Where has my baby gone?
Did I miss him growing up in all the hub-bub of being a new mom? When did he decide that he'd rather play by himself than with me? Was I too busy nursing his little sister to make note of these changes, these steps away from babyhood? Full-fledged boyhood is steps behind these first few sentences - and those are just around the corner. We're talking weeks away, folks!
This is the cruel trick of motherhood. The demand of raising, nurturing, and picking up after one or more hellions is intense; it seems a mother can never catch a moment of rest. We're so busy trying to make sure our kids have this ideal experience of childhood that we forget to enjoy it ourselves, as it's happening. Before we realize, these fleeting moments of babyhood - of toddlerhood - are gone forever.
Yesterday Shep begged for me to pick him up. Once he was in my arms, he held my face in his hands and planted an enthusiastic kiss on my lips. The summer heat has kissed his curls, which were especially bouncy in the humidity. His eyes sparkled with a hint of mischief and delight. Staring into his eyes, I felt my throat tighten. Choking back the tears, I said, "I'll remember you this way for the rest of my life, my son." It's happening so fast, and I am willing it to slow down.
And yet, I dragged myself into the shower today for a few moments of quiet without a child suckling at my teat. My husband knew that shower was the thin line between sanity and the mom version of Snapped!. I'm conniving, plotting ways to escape the very same children whose infancies are disappearing by the day. Before I had children, I thought that much of motherhood was time spent appreciating your children - or enjoying one another's company. Now I know that most of it is mundane household chores, laundry, and loud noises. Most of my daily effort is invisible; it's holding back the tide of chaos that threatens to overtake our tiny family boat. What I'd like to be doing instead is marveling at the newness of each day in the eyes of a sweet baby, or a rambunctious toddler. Because before I know it, relentless time will turn that baby and that toddler into teenagers trying their best to avoid me. So join me - let's pledge to enjoy our kids while we can, and ignore the voice in our head that tells us "good moms spend hours cleaning" while our kids are busy growing up.