A Tender Moment It Was Not, but a Cherished One, Nonetheless

We have largely cleared our bed of small people, at least between the hours of 9pm and 5am. After 5am, it's sort of a free for all.

This morning, the three year old climbed in for a snu- snu- snu- snuggle. (Sound familiar, D'bee?) It's so nice to lie with her, exchange little eskimo kisses, and whisper sillinesses to each other, until she wakes up a little and starts jumping up and down on top of me.

This morning, pre-jumping, we were enjoying that drowsy, just-woke-up state, and staring lovingly at each other's faces, with about three inches between us.

Her: "Mommy, why do have stripes on you?"

Me: "I'm not wearing stripes, honey; these are flowers."

Her: "But why do you have stripes?"

Me: (The thought occurs to me that she's talking wrinkles. I say nothing. I start fantasizing about the children she will one day have, and the grief they will cause her.)

Her, giving me her best Whoa Lady, This Is Not What I Signed Up For look: "I don wanna live with a old lady. I want a mommy in my house."

I defy you to find any parenting book that tells you what to say to that. I said the lame thing: "I'll always be cursed to be your mommy, no matter how old I get."

What kind of child reprimands her mother for wrinkly skin? My kind, I guess."

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It's later than we think, isn't it? I used to subscribe to a parenting philosophy in which the central tenant was: If you don't have the energy to ____________ today, wait: there's always tomorrow. Into that blank could go any number of things to do: potty train...turn off the TV...make a decent dinner...fold that 11th load of laundry...find the Simple Green...put the dishes away...explain fractions. You get the idea. Which is not to say that I continually put things off, just that I tried to be less than militant about certain fundamentals of child rearing and house keeping.

But that little mantra only holds up in Baby Mode, which, I think has been established, I am no longer in. The wrinkles on my face, and the fact that my youngest child is pointing them out to me in complete, if not grammatically correct, sentences belie the fact that tomorrows are not infinite. The potty needs to be mastered. The family needs to eat a hearty salad. The kid needs to understand fractions. And the momma needs to dig in and do some hard work to turn these lumps of clay into people whom other people enjoy being around.

I keep coming back to the reality that I am entering a new phase of parenting, one that has less to do with babies and more to do with people who are increasingly interacting with the world. Everyone says that things get easier when you move out of the baby phase. And everyone says it gets harder too. Yet another of those confounding contradictions of parenting.

I feel myself on the brink of a transition, with one foot firmly in the land of babies and toddlers while my other foot and both of my hands are busy in the land of kids and tweens. Teenagers are just around the bend. I know that different things are expected of me now than a few years ago, and I'm curious how I will meet those expectations. Will I have the patience to explain the world to my young charges? Will I have the courage to follow them where they lead, and to help them navigate the waters they choose to swim in? Will I grow up in the process of helping them grow up?

I hope so. I sure would like to arrive somewhere ages and ages hence, look back on this time and be proud of the wrinkles I have earned. And I'd like Tallulah to be proud of them, too.

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Teacher Mommy said…
I think we're lucky if we keep one step ahead. As for the wrinkles, blame it on them. And make them pay for the beauty treatments someday.

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