|Look at my giant children.|
It's the first day of school here in Georgia, which any of my friends living outside the Deep South know is absolutely preposterous. I think that the fact that we start school at the hottest time of the year is just one example of how Southern legislators are ill-equipped to make good decisions about education and also, maybe how they are envoys of the Great Evil.
It's just a theory I'm working on while contemplating some sort of letter-writing campaign...
This is also the time of year during which you'll find any number of blog posts and essays about last moments and holding on to your children as they grow older. You know the type: "There I was, cooking supper, and I realized that Little Shmoop Shmoop was blowing her own nose and I couldn't remember the last time I had wiped her boogers for her and that night, we ate our pork chops smothered in a sauce seasoned with my tears." And by the end of it, you are crying and barging into the bathroom so that you can wash your kid's hair because it MIGHT BE THE LAST TIME, and she's all like, "Mom. Dude. I am NEKKID in here." And you're like, "Tough. Move over and hand me the shampoo so we can MAKE A MEMORY."
Listen, I get it. There are days when I watch my long-limbed, big-teethed, loud-voiced kids gambol across the yard and I am struck by a pang of longing for the curled up sweetness of their baby bodies against me. I realize that I have forgotten what they were exactly like as babies or toddlers. I have forgotten first words or funny sayings in the wave of big kid talk that washes around me every day. It is hard, sometimes, to think about all of that ittyness being gone forever.
But I have a confession to make: I LOVE watching my kidlets grow up. I know, I know. I'm supposed to be beating myself with a stick over all of the little moments I miss every day or the times I didn't stop and stare down at my babies and say, "I must remember this. It will never come again." And that's true. All of those snuggly moments and tender sounds and chubby knees go away one day and it feels like it's barely a second and then you're dealing with a teenager with elbows like razor blades who rolls his eyes at you and sounds like Barry White as he asks you for the 1800th snack of his day.
Ohmahgawd, I love my gangly, enormous Barry-White-sounding guy. I love him just as much as the fat little newborn who couldn't figure out breast feeding. I love him even more than the precocious little toddler, or the preschooler who could name every single piece of construction equipment. Talking with him about politics or religion or books makes for feats of intellectual gymnastics I haven't attempted since high school, and he challenges me to slow down and define my beliefs so I can help him interpret the world and, frankly, I enjoy it a lot more than changing his dirty diapers.
And my girl. Oh, my Squish with her whirling dervish mood swings and tree-climbing, dress-wearing, sparkle-flinging dramatics. She sinks into books like I do and I get to revisit Laura and Mary and Anne and the March girls and Harry and Corlath and Will and Bran and Taran and Eilonwy and all of my favorite friends from childhood with her and THEN meet new buddies with her (thank you, Maggie Stiefvater and Alice Hoffman for branching into kiddie fiction!) Goodnight Moon is great, but nothing compares to curling up on the couch and walking into Professor Flitwick's classroom with my girlie. I also have to think hard about what it means to be a woman in America for my girl, and make sure that I am doing all that I can to give her a good example as she grows into the person she's meant to be, the person shaped by the woman that I am. It's a responsibility and a chance to grow, all wrapped into one experience.
Baby and toddlerhood are wonderful times. There are moments when you love your littles so much that it takes your breath away and you can make yourself cry just thinking about when they grow up and go to college and get married and leave your little nest. The wonderful times will be over.
But they won't. As the leaving gets closer and as I watch my friends send their own precious shmoopies off into the real world, I realize that there are still wonderful times. They are even better, now. There's a sense of accomplishment in watching Jeffrey leap out of the car with his cool dude hair style and big grin, not even bothering to say goodbye as he greets his teacher. There's so much pride and love to feel as River reads over the classroom rules and shows off her new earrings to her friends. My kids are amazing, beautiful, smart, independent, fierce creatures and I am dazzled by them. I enjoy their company and miss them while they are at school or with friends, but I am so happy that they are growing up and becoming such amazing people. It is...wonderful.
Do I miss my babies? Sure, sometimes. Do I regret that I didn't savor each moment of their tininess? I guess. It's just that I'm having so much fun with them now that it's hard to worry about what I might have missed or what heartbreak is up ahead. They're still my babies, just in bigger packages. They still need me, just in different ways.
So mommies of the tiniest of tinies, snuggle your little babies and be at peace. Chill out, toddler mommies, as you realize you forgot to write down an important first in the baby book. Dry your eyes, mommies sending your littles to school today. There is SO MUCH MORE waiting for you, so many more laughs and happy times. I'm so excited for us! Yay!
Besides, I really need you present for my campaign. It's hard to fill out petitions about moving the beginning of the school year to a season less reminiscent of the Hot Stinky Place when you're crying over an old onesie, and calls to the legislature don't make themselves, so pull yourself together. (Plus, the kiddoes'll be home from school soon and you know you haven't baked those cookies you promised them. Breast feeding was so much easier than baking...)