Posts Tagged ‘growing up’

It’s Pregnancy Season And I’m Not Pregnant

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

I’m at Target to pick up diapers and I’m pretty sure every other woman in the store is pregnant. I pass them everywhere: in the grocery aisle, in the baby clothes, wandering home decor. It’s 87 degrees with 95% humidity outside and all the pregnant women are wearing tank tops and pushing toddlers in their carts stocked with goldfish crackers and beach buckets and ice cream. To me, they are all glowing and adorable and lucky to have so much to look forward to. But I know they probably feel enormous and uncomfortable, cursing themselves for a summer pregnancy, crossing their fingers that their toddler will take a nap later (or at least eat their goldfish for lunch while zoned out in front of Disney Jr so mama can lie on the couch under a fan).

My last baby is almost a year old now. I am far enough removed from being a pregnant woman at Target that I silently think “enjoy those moments” but still close enough that I know better than to say it out loud. A woman is not going to suddenly realize being hot and swollen and sore and tired and nauseous are all such blessings just because a stranger says “it goes so fast” or “I miss those days”. I am close enough to being a pregnant woman at Target that I know that is not entirely true. I do not miss those days. I do not miss being hot and swollen and sore and tired and nauseous and wondering how, exactly, I was ever going to manage a newborn when I couldn’t manage to put on pants every day. Not only do I not want to a pregnant woman at Target, don’t actually want to be pregnant at all.

And I’m not. I will most likely never be pregnant again. (I would say NEVER with 100% certainty but I know better than to tempt fate like that.)

What I do miss is being in that season of life. It doesn’t matter if those pregnant women at Target are technically older or younger than I am in years. They’re still at the stage where they will have a newborn. That’s a stage before the one I am in. New life is in their future, the moment when they meet a new little human they created. I don’t long to be pregnant again, but I do feel nostalgic for that particular flavor of joy. It’s not baby fever – I am thoroughly immunized against that particular strain by four children who all insisted on growing up – but it’s like a bruise. You don’t really notice it until you bump into it by accident, in the checkout at Target, and then it’s a dull ache that says “you’re not in this club anymore”.

I suspect these feelings are just biology, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling them. So this is me acknowledging it, writing it down in words, trying to explain it to you so I can explain it to me. Instead of being sad, I will let myself drift further towards the stage of life where I become the person who says “Oh it goes by so fast, treasure these moments” to pregnant women in Target. I will recount stories about my newborns in absolutes: “Oh my baby was such a good sleeper” “oh my baby loved being swaddled “oh my baby hated tummy time”. I will forget how much being pregnant sucks and only think of it fondly. And when gray-haired grandmas at Target look at my four not-babies and say “Enjoy these moments, it goes so fast”, I will smile and nod and say “It sure does.”

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Just A Mommy

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
caroline dressed as a mommy-8

Mommy uniform: Messy bun, cardi, statement necklace, leggings, boots, phone in her purse, camera and of course, her Baby Jesus.

 

A few weeks ago, my daughter had a career day at school. When I asked her what she wanted to be, I was only half listening, since in my head I was trying to figure out what dress up we could repurpose as “Doctor” or “President” or “Nobel Peace Prize Winner”.

“A MOMMY!” she shouted.

I have been a stay-at-home-mom for 6 years now. I wipe tushies and noses and hands. I do laundry, then some more laundry, then do all the laundry again. I take kids to ballet and swim and doctor’s appointments and baby signs and birthday parties. I cut coupons and make lists and menu plans and 12 trips to the grocery store and then still end up serving tacos and spaghetti two nights a week.

I wear a lot of yoga pants.

“Oh,” I said. “A mommy,” I said. “But wouldn’t you like to be something else AND a mommy?? You don’t have to be JUST a mommy.”

I flinched when I said it. The words floated out of my mouth and hung right in front of my face where I thought about how it was a stupid thing to say. I know better.

Being a mom isn’t just keeping children alive – although some days that is all I seem to manage. We can’t just feed and clothe them, we have to raise them up and impart everything we know into their empty heads. We are turning small squishy lumps of need into tiny humans who then turn into actual real humans and grow up to be, well, everything. We teach patience because one day they’ll need it while discovering the gene that cures cancer. We teach kindness because one day they might build hospitals for villages in need. We teach the alphabet so they can write the great American novel. We clean up a zillion finger paint messes so they can become great artists. Someone right now is wiping the butt of a future president.

I want Caroline to know that she has the option to be whatever she wants when she grows up, especially right now when she’s capable of dreaming about future careers without worrying about their practicality. I remember telling my mother I was going to be a ballerina marine biologist and her saying “That is a great idea”. I want her to find a passion and explore it and love it and then change her mind. I want her to change her mind a million and one times before she actually finds a career. I want her to reach for the stars…or the bottom of the sea…or the top of a mountain…or wherever it is that super successful and happy people reach. Because as cliche as it sounds, I only want her to be happy.

I don’t want anyone to ever tell my daughter she HAS to be a mother or that she can ONLY be a mother, but if she wants to be a mother – even if she wants to be JUST a mommy – then I would be very, very proud of her.

When she came home from career day, I asked her what her friends dressed up as. “Logan was a motorcycle guy!” she explained, “And all the girls were princesses!”

So maybe Mommy is a bold choice for a 4 year old after all.

And hey, I must make being a mommy look like a lot of fun if it’s something she’s looking forward to. Although it might just be because she wants to be the boss.

caroline dressed as a mommy

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Kid

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Yesterday I woke up at 8 am, alone in my room, because the sun was shining in my face. It’s been a long time since I had an “oh no why didn’t the baby wake me?” moment of panic, since one of the kids usually comes upstairs to wake me around 6:30. But we took the baby gate down this week; I don’t have any babies anymore. I hopped out of bed shouting “Evan? Caroline?” and immediately heard two sets of feet running up the stairs. The kids ran into the room holding graham crackers and grinning. “Hi Mom!” said Evan, “I took Caroline downstairs. We’re having graham crackers and playing iPad and I fed Brutus!”

I don’t want to jinx anything but I’m fairly sure four is my favorite. He’s understood directions for while but now he understand emotions. He can read me like a book (better than a book, since he can’t actually read) and will call me out when I’m not at my best. Nothing cuts quite like having a four year old ask “Are you having a bad day, Mom? Do you need a hug?” Gut-punch, every time. It’s even more amazing when he does it with Caroline – I scolded her for running away at the grocery store and he took her hand and said “It’s OK, baby baby, you’re my best friend.” If you ever wanted to see a grown woman cry in a grocery store, that would have been a good moment. Standing between the bread and the lightbulbs I realized my oldest baby was a whole kid.

There’s no going back with this growing up thing. I few weeks ago the thought of sending him to real school on a bus was ridiculous. Today it seems inevitable. Of course he’s going to get on a bus. He’s going to get on a bus this September for pre-K and next September for Kindergarten and a few more Septembers for high school and then he’ll be taking a bus to some tropical location for a week-long Spring Break trip where the only thing keeping him alive is my voice in his head saying “WISE CHOICES!” That’s what I think about when my sweet-faced ginger boy says “Mommy, I want to sit on you” when I’m “too busy” for sitting. My kid still wants to hang out with me. I’ve got to enjoy that while I still can.

Evan gets himself out of bed, he picks out clothes from socks to shirt, gets himself dressed, chooses his breakfast, helps decide the days activities, puts on his own shoes, feeds the dog, is a great helper when we grocery shop, tells me the numbers and letters on the signs, goes to the bathroom alone (and ditched the nighttime pull-ups a few weeks ago!), helps cook and clean, can walk alone on a sidewalk, holds his sister’s hand, shares his stuff, plays well with others, eats (pretty) well, talks about his feelings, sits in time out willingly when he’s naughty, wants to see the pictures I take in the camera, can go on long walks, tells me when he’s tired and wants to go to bed, sleeps in any bed with just a kiss goodnight and an “I love you”, and sleeps 10-11 hours straight. He’s a whole kid. I feel super lucky, since hopefully I’ll get at least 4 good years of this independent-but-loving-person before the worst of the tweenage stuff hits. I’d take 40 years of this, as long as “this” was just like this week.

“Go stand under that tree and I’ll take your picture!” I said on the way home from our evening walk. “No Mom, take a picture of me doing this! It’s a good picture!” said my big kid. And he was right.

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Brave

Friday, September 21st, 2012

It’s been a week since Caroline’s accident and she has almost entirely forgotten about it. She doesn’t even request baby Motrin anymore because she’s too busy trying to injure herself further. It’s actually been nice for me to have somewhere to direct my neuroses – if there was NOTHING I could do for her I would drive myself insane reliving the fall. But now I’m so busy chasing her down and trying to distract her with quiet activities and making sure she isn’t using her left arm too much that I don’t have time to sit and dwell.

Do you realize how many times a day we take our eyes off our children? A zillion. Trying to narrow that down to zero is impossible, unless you never sleep or blink. There are so many moments you need to look at something else – the road, the food on the hot stove, your other child, the inside of your eyelids – that there a hundred opportunities a day for them to hurt themselves no matter how carefully you watch. Hyper-vigilance doesn’t prevent them from rolling off their bed during nap time or choking on a bite of food or accidentally pushing their sister off the playscape.

From that very first positive pregnancy test we do what we can to protect our babies. We give up our vices and our lunch meat in the name of avoiding hidden dangers and unseen poisons. We educate ourselves on birth and chemicals and nutrition and “baby-proof” our homes. But babies can’t themselves be baby-proofed. There are things, seen and unseen, that can hurt our children or might hurt our children or could potentially maybe hurt our children. Film at 11. And no matter how careful you are there’s no guarantee a meteor won’t fall out of the sky and crush your house tomorrow.

I can’t undo what happened, but I can learn my lesson. My phone is no longer surgically attached to my hand. I’ve missed a lot of blog posts and tweets and no, I didn’t see your kid’s karate belt ceremony pictures on Facebook. But Caroline and I have talked and cuddled and laughed more than ever before. I am holding her with my eyes and my heart but not holding her back even though I want to wrap her in bubble wrap and lock her in a padded castle. In the last week she learned the phrase “I DO IT” and although my heart leaps into my throat when she won’t hold my hand I so admire her determination to be independent even in the face of a broken bone. She is brave. Children are brave. We are brave for bringing them into this big scary world and brave for letting them go.

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Dear Past, Meet Now

Monday, March 29th, 2010

This weekend while running super exciting Saturday morning errands (Target, Home Depot, sporting goods store, my life is so glamorous), E and I ran into someone we used to know. Someone from a long long time ago. Eight years to be exact.

Right there in the aisle of BJ’s, holding an oversized jug of olive oil and a sleepy baby, I was faced with just how much my life has changed.

I have written and deleted a zillion words here to explain this next part because there is no way to sum up college in just a few paragraphs. It was new. It was crazy. It was fun. It was full of drama. It felt like the most important time ever in the history of anyone’s life ever. It felt like it was going to last forever and I was totally OK with that. I hated change.

If 19 year old Suzanne were suddenly dropped into my living room, she’d be totally horrified. She’d think I was boring and kind of fat and oh my GOD when was the last time I had my eyebrows done? What do you mean I haven’t seen a movie in a theater in a year? How is it possible that you spent your weekend vacuuming and thought that was a good time? And ew, breastfeeding, really?

But 19-year old Suzanne was shallow and vain and selfish. She made a lot of bad choices. She didn’t love anybody as much as she loved herself. She was only an average student, an average friend, an average employee. She was not always a nice person. So I don’t really care what she thinks.

My life now may be boring but I have a beautiful son.

I may be kind of fat but I’m strong and healthy.

The bad choices I make these days are more like eating french fries than possibly ruining someone’s life.

I love where I am now and wouldn’t give back the last eight years for anything.

Besides, that guy we ran into? Was pushing a cart full of diapers for his three kids.

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