One of the things I’ve always admired about my parents is how gracefully they have passed from one stage of life, of parenthood, to the next. They moved quietly and without drama from being parents of littles to parents of school kids and then teens, and then college kids, and then finally into the empty nest, and I’ve never once gotten a sense that they regretted any of those changes. They’ve embraced each new stage for the opportunities unique to it, and even the aging process lies lightly on them.
I aspire to be like them.
There is a shift in self-image going on in me these days. From the time we began trying to have kids in 2001 right up until Michael was born, we were in a constant cycle of discernment, planning, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and return to fertility. About the time the baby hit fourteen months, we started that cycle over again. My identity was: having babies.
Michael is closing in on 3½ now. Above half of the time, he’s too big to snuggle, let alone have Mommy blow raspberries on his tummy. He’s in school four mornings a week, reading stop signs and playing with Transformers, and he’s desperate to play baseball like his big brothers.
I am no longer a mother having babies. I am a mother working from home, figuring out how to juggle dropoff and pickup at three different schools, get kids to horseback, piano and baseball when they all happen in the same two-hour time span. I am logistics mom now. Have laptop, will travel.
There are times when I shake my head and think, How did I get here? My vision of parenthood never saw beyond pregnancy, childbirth and nursing. Well, and toilet training.
We’re a year and a half past toilet training.
I still have a baby longing, because I’m a baby person, but contrary to threats during the having babies years, I do not miss those days. My back and shoulders hurt a whole lot less now than they did when I was lugging a car seat around and having to work one-handed while holding a baby.
The kids are helping with housework. Not always willingly, hardly ever without supervision, and never, ever as well as if I did it myself–but still, they’re helping.
I have practiced my flute three days in a row this week.
I don’t always have to hire a sitter to go out and sit in nature.
I went to the library by myself.
There’s always a period of adjustment. (The blatantly obvious things you put into words,when you’re writing a blog!) I was talking to a mother of one of Nicholas’ Little League teammates, who was rather perturbed at the plethora of games scheduled at 7p.m. on school nights for kindergarteners, and it occurred to me that this year (unlike the last couple), I hadn’t even blinked an eye. I just wrote it down and planned around it. Just like this week, I’m planning around Michael being up late and not being at home for naps two days in a row because of the convergence of a) a med student presentation on DS, b) baseball games, c) choir practice and d) early dismissal.
I have the flexibility to do that now. I didn’t have that two years ago.
It would be ridiculous to pretend that the meltdown of two weeks ago didn’t happen. I don’t handle everything with as much grace as I would like. Still, I’m taking time to acknowledge what is unique and beautiful about this stage of life and parenthood. This new stage is out of control, and it needs whipping into shape, but it is rich. And I intend to enjoy it while it lasts, and be ready to let it go when it, too, passes into something new.