“Do not regret growing older. It is a priviledge denied by many.”
I’m on Pinterest. I see that quote all the time. And I agree with it 100%. But still, you guys. I’m staring at 40.
In the months leading up to this, I’ve been very resigned about it. It’s no big deal. Just an age. But now… IT’S HERE. You know as well as I do that all the “40th birthday” decorations in the Party Store involve being over a particular hill and gravestones and senior-related things. It’s totally dumb and I’m far from gravestones. But this birthday has a certain reputation still. So, before I freak out unnecesarily, it’s time to write myself a list of why 40 is juuuust fine. No biggee.
1. I am very much alive and well. My ticker runs well enough, my mammograms have been clear, all systems are status quo and I am actually somewhat in shape (ish). (Don’t count the chips and wine and cookies and shit I enjoy daily from time to time.) I count my lucky stars for all of this.
2. I have been bountiful. I’m not saying I’m some supah-stah and I certainly haven’t found a cure for cancer and I’m not saving starving children around the world. But… I have produced two children. From my body. And I they have been fed food everyday and they are potty-trained and can read books. Excuse me while I go take my victory lap. That stuff is BIG.
3. I am a productive member of society. Again, I know I am not shooting out the lights as some big-wig exec, nor is my name actually IN lights, but I am in the process of rebuilding my career after 8 years at home, I am doing something I enjoy and I am providing for my family the best way I know how. Boom.
4. I know more stuff. At 23, I had no idea. Yes, I was college educated and full of self-indulgent, super woman piss and vinegar. I thought I knew stuff. Kind of. But deep down I was very insecure and had no idea about bills and life and death and talking to idoits who are trying to sell you a load of crap. A lot of things that used to freak me out just don’t anymore. I LIKE not freaking out and knowing how things work.
5. I know my future. Well, for the most part. Back to my early 20s again, that was a time of all sorts of stress and fear of the unknown. What am I doing with my life? Where should I live? Shouldn’t I get married soon? When should I buy a house? How could I ever afford to buy a house? When do I have kids because I have to have kids and I am 7 years from 30 which is ANCIENT and I need to plan because I have to have kids OH MY GOD I want to have kids and I don’t know when I’m going to have kids!!! I don’t have to deal with ANY of that crap any more. I have been blessed with a great partner and kids and a house and it’s all good. (Phewphewphewphewphewphewphewphewphew. Phew.)
6. It’s a little bit, sort’ve my turn. I spent the majority of my 30s tending to my children. No complaints at all, it’s what I spent my 20s freaking out about working towards. But, now they can kind of self-sustain long enough that I can sleep in a bit on the weekends or write this blog post. I don’t expect that they will get “easier” per se. (Wait a second. Cue that 20s freak out over their upcoming teens years. And let me rethink my “I know stuff” swagger above because I’m not sure what I will do when they sneak my car keys and crash the car and say mean things and decide they don’t want to go to college. I don’t know anything about THAT stuff. At all.) But I do think there is more room for me to have a moment from time to time. Maybe with my husband. Maybe I can be a wee bit more selfish in my 40s. Maybe.
7. I waste my time less. Let’s get back to those Pinterest quote posts.
“The trouble is, we think we have time.”
Time runs out. Our time is not forever. This is an important thing to know. And it’s something I embrace and know for a fact (my mother died 23 years after she turned 40). So I try very hard not to waste my time or energy on things that just don’t matter. Or on people that suck the life right out of you. Or worry over things I can’t change. Or really care about drama. No time people. Onward.
8. The glass really is half full. No, really. People, there is a lot of stuff left to do. There is still so much to see. It’s not over! I can practically hear all of my friends and family over 40 shaking their heads and telling me this is no big deal. Get ON with living. There is so much left to go. Stop fixating on this number. It’s time to put my big girl panties on, get out of the junior section in life and proudly own the years and experience I have aquired. I lived 40 years and I did it pretty well, right?
I started running in January. No, really, I did. And I’ve actually managed to consistently squeak in about two or three runs a week, too.
But, so what.
Sure, I’ve never, EVER been an athlete. And it has taken a lot of something deep down inside to set my alarm before anyone gets up, to stumble out the door and get a couple miles in before the day begins. I mean, if you know me, you’d know that’s entirely unexpected and… kind of weird.
But, still. So what.
Maybe it’s some sort of mid-life crisis but I think this running business is simply about me getting off my ass and doing what I probably should have half my lifetime ago. I have one life and one body. My children have one childhood each and these years, and the years to come, and years with their children (maybe, if they have them) are a gift.
How could I, with a clear conscience, keep myself from doing everything I can to maintain my health and TRY to ensure that I am allowed this gift?
I’ve known all of it for a long time — eat your veggies, get off your ass and you’ll beat back all kinds of bad mojo. There are no miracle diets or magic products that will half my muffin top and slow time. Just be healthy and stop with the excuses.
But I do have one little, ahem, excuse. I think part of NOT doing it was also making time for myself. Parents GIVE. Parents make the most efficient use of their time. Parents push self-indulgent crap like, oh, a thirty minute run by myself aside if the kids are vomiting half-digested hot dog, have a baseball game to get to or are coming unhinged over their homework.
So, I guess I’m getting a little better about taking. Oh, and setting my alarm extra early when no one is awake anyway.
I can’t wait for short-term reasons to do this, either. Putting one foot in front of the other can’t only be happening because of some upcoming race or because I am trying to keep up with anyone else. This has to be long-term.
And I can’t put it off because I don’t feel like it. Life is uncomfortable sometimes. It’s a half hour of push. Only a half hour.
But can we talk about endurance? Because sometimes I don’t want to keep going. I get really tired and seriously consider walking. But then I think about that stupid chart they give you in the hospital for pain. Smiley face for no pain, crying face for crazy pain. When I was in labor, they showed me that chart. And I couldn’t make sense of it. I mean, what IS the worst kind of pain? I couldn’t possibly know. Did I deserve a crying face… or was there more to come still? Was there worse than this? Of course there was.
(By the way, I am secretly correcting the grammar on this chart. WTH is that about?)
So, when I’m running, I think about the chart. And I think about my discomfort. And I think about what other discomfort and awful pain and strain and heartbreak there is. (No kidding, I really think this.) And I think that my discomfort must only be at about a semi-smiley face. In the grand scheme of all that we endure (as I jog past palm trees on a sunny afternoon towards my happy home of boys and normal and nice), my pain is actually just peachy. So… SHUT UP.
And I keep going.
I should add that while I promise Nike isn’t paying me to say this, the Nike + Running app is fracking amazing. I’m addicted and in constant competition with myself. Breaking my 5K record pretty much makes my life when it happens.
But, so what.
I can get jazzed about my little accomplishments but no one else should. Because I am only doing what I should be doing. What I should have been doing for years. And it’s simply my choice to do it. Bed or run? Excuses or no excuses? If I choose wrong, that’s on me. If I shut-up and get out there, then I’m just doing what is good for me. That’s all.
It’s giving back to ME. It’s upping my chances of hanging around a little longer. It’s giving my kids the best odds for decades more of my rockstar singing in the car (“Stop Mommy, you’re tooo loooud!”) and lecture-giving (“You be the person YOU want to be, blaze your own trails!”) and shameless question-asking about their body issues. (“Did you wipe… DID YOU? …No, really, DID you? I can TELL you didn’t.”)
But all this smack talk doesn’t amount to much, really. It’s just talk. And all that running has happened, but it’s no guarantee that I will run tomorrow. Or next week. It could end as fast as I started. Because it’s all about choice and whether or not that drive is there.
It is right now. So there we go. No awards. No guarantees. No crying faces. No excuses.
When they handed me my child, they said give him contact. Skin to skin. Love him close. It’s good for him. Oxytocin and stimulation and security and comfort. He will thrive. Studies have proven it.
So I did. I folded him in and held him as close as I could. I couldn’t bear to do anything otherwise anyway.
From the very early days of nursing, sleeping, nursing, sleeping — for both of us — he locked into my center and we remained deeply connected. Of course, months passed and our tether unwound itself slightly further everyday. He crawled and then balanced and discovered there was something more than Mommy’s arms. But the more he tottered away, the faster he found his way back. Slipping into my lap, reaching for my cheek.
As he grew, a quick kiss to a scuffed knee cured him. A hug told him he was fine. A snuggle started his day. And mine.
When I pushed his bike away, he always looped back. For a high five, a hug, contact.
Always, always contact.
The other night, we sat and watched his brother play T-ball. He sat next to me, close, and helped me play “Words with Friends.” Connected, side by side, locked-in as usual.
But then I put my arm around him and kissed his cheek.
Suddenly, he broke contact.
And he looked at me as if I had hurt his feelings.
And he inched away. Somehow, over night, the rules had changed and I had broken his trust. How could I ruin it like that?
It dawned on me that constant contact was not at all that he needed. I had better not stray too far, but… affection? No. This kind of love would not help him thrive or feel more secure. Not, at least… IN PUBLIC
…What planet had I landed on?
It was completely bizarre to realize that reaching out to him the way that I always had would now repel him. That I was reacting to him in a way he was not OK with.
Knock it off. Be cool. Just SIT next to me.
But then I remembered that he was my bird on a wire. And he was going to be 9 (!!WTH!!) in 2 months. So I stopped. I calmly collected my love and put it all back where it belonged. And let him fill back into his space at his own pace. Things were changing and that had to be OK.
Tonight, we were back at baseball. This time we were playing “Scramble” and he had gotten his highest score. My gut, my everything, wanted to wrap right back around him and give him an enormous smooch right on that perfect cheek. Oh yes I did, here comes mama, I’m-a-comin’ to love on you!….
But I stopped. His eyes shot to mine. Was I going to do it? After fair warning the other night, was I going to break his trust and establish our normal connect… IN PUBLIC?
I went back to the game, shrugging it off and reminding him that it was MY turn. I focused on the silly word game in my hands. Hugs? Who needs ‘em.
But, groan, I had to ignore every instinct in my body to love on him — I don’t care HOW much it embarrassed him — I just wanted to smoooosh him. But no, I wouldn’t. (TORTURE!) And, for mama’s far and wide, oh Lord, reaching for their babies is an urge like nothing else. But I stopped it, I held it, I didn’t break these new, firmly established guidelines of how to parent… IN PUBLIC.
And he watched me collect myself. And go back to the game.
Do you know what he did next? My bird on a wire inched slightly closer. He did. I didn’t react. He inched closer again until, very subtly, we WERE connected. Shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, knee to knee, there on the bleachers, under the baseball lights, surrounded by Grandmas and DSing older brothers and ring-pop smacking older sisters.
And then, when we got in the car, and we drove along in the night utterly exhausted by our days, I heard it.
“I need snuggles.”
The rules, it seems, do not apply once the prying eyes of Grandmas and ring-pop smacking girls have been left behind. So, as soon as I dropped our day’s worth of this and that onto the floor of our foyer, I pulled him near me. He wrapped himself around my neck and allowed the connection to spin back to life.
In the past, I thought forward. I considered and dreamed about my so very dear adult-life. The man I would marry. I wrote lists of names for my children. I sighed about where we would live. I would wonder how they would look. My so very perfect, just-so life.
And I said I would take my children to The Nutcracker someday. When *I* was a mother. And they would, of course, love it as much as I did.
That day came last week. My son had seemed interested so now, at 8, I decided it was time he went. But at 38, I try not to get too caught up in romanticising what I will do with my children anymore. Things change, kids don’t like what you did a lot of the time, real-life isn’t so make-believe. But I bought the tickets and I took him. We held hands. We walked along the Riverwalk before the show. We sat and read the program and ate cough drops together and giggled about how we couldn’t stop coughing. When the lights went down and he heard the music, he smiled. And he turned to me. He got it right away. He loved it like I had. This was something special for him, too.
Suddenly I became far too aware that the future that I had day-dreamed about for so many years is happening right now. There are no more second chances, there no do-overs. This is it. My life. My adult life. And these are my children doing some of the things I dreamed and many that I didn’t.
This Christmas season has brought lots of difficult news. Apart from some things that I have written about, two friends have been diagnosed with breast cancer (one being one of my closet college friends), there are friends with very sick relatives, some with new concerns about their children, others who have had miscarriages, and others who have lost jobs. And while things remain blessedly peaceful and healthy in my life, there is a lot of coping and getting through the season happening all around me.
Again, it is very clear to me that every hope and dream for the future is so very very uncertain.
So, I don’t want to look forward so much anymore. I don’t want to think about what will happen in my dreamy little grown-up world. And I don’t want to think about what could have been or how things used to be. I want to grab hold of the present and BE entirely in it.
I want to tie myself to this very moment and experience it and let every taste and sound and feeling sink right on in. I don’t want to miss a thing, I want my eyes wide open to it all.
There will never be another first time I get to take my oldest child to The Nutcracker. So I sat in the theater and held his hand and watched him watch and laugh and listen and clap loudly. It was perfect and everything right now needs to be.
This, my life, is happening right now. This Christmas, this time when both of my children still believe in Santa and shamelessly dance “Christmas is almost here” dances in the hallway together, in Spider-man jammies… this is happening RIGHT NOW. 8 and 5 turns into 9 and 6 next year. And on it goes.
I cherish every Christmas past. I hope for many Christmases in the future. But I am living and breathing this Christmas present. I have what I have right now — and it is a gift.
To inspire little boy smiles for our family Christmas card, we pretended to pick my 8yo’s nose.
(Now I kind of wish I had “picked” this one for our card… har har.)
Dear Simon Le Bon and the mullet you sported in 1985,
Sure, sure. I know. The term “mullet” is most certainly synonymous with certain 80′s flashback films and is one that folks tend to use in… ahem… jest. But that is not what I am doing here. No jesting at all, I promise you, so please read on.
Simon Le Bon
My dear Simon, you made the mullet HOT. You wore it so well back then. So well, in fact, that’s why people like my husband and other 30-something men who grew up around that era thought it was a good idea in the first place. It was cool as hell, and a little punk rock. It was toying with androgynous, probably somehow inspired by early 80′s Bowie, which pushed the envelope and challenged the norm. And women everywhere got all hot and bothered over breath-taking men with subtle (or not so subtle) women’s features. Like longish, well-styled hair. And that was a little crazy and dangerous and something our fathers did NOT like. And there was nothing wrong with that! Nothing wrong at all.
Ok, let me get to the point I am trying to make. I am thrilled to be one of the Duran Social bloggers and will be *giddily* attending your concert in Clearwater next Monday. My previously mullet-sporting husband will be there with me (after listening to HIS Duran Duran “best of” CD in the car on the way there… yes we have a CD player, lucky we don’t have an old tape going… and I would have had one of those if I hadn’t traded in my old Saturn last year… but I digress…). So, anyway, I was wondering. Is there no hope at all that you could grow out that mullet of yours again???
I know. It’s Wednesday. And the concert is Monday. These hopes and dreams of mine are damn near impossible. I know it can’t happen. But if it can’t, at least know this. I respect and adore your mullet days. Deeply. I promise you, there is not ONE ounce of disrespect or condescension in this post. I mean it. I loved your mullet. And I had a frayed poster magazine pull-out once upon a time to prove it. I swooned over you and your locks and, well, it kind of got me through puberty.
So, I guess if I can’t see your mullet next Monday, I can at least thank you for it. Right? So thank you. It. Was. Fabulous.
True Morningside Mom Duran Duran Facts:
With teased hair, leg warmers and a red double studded belt on, I used to make up dances in my front yard to the song “Wild Boys” which played on my shiny new boom box. And I secretly longed for some Wild Boys in my life apart from what my Catholic middle school had to offer.
I may have chosen certain guys to flirt with in High School simply because they kind of looked like Simon Le Bon. (Yes, they had mullets.)
“Come Undone” was a college party panty-melter tune for me. No questions asked.
My OB let me pick the radio station I wanted on during my second C-section. I picked the local 80′s station. And what song happened to be playing when my now five year old arrived into the world? “Hungry Like the Wolf.” The child never stops eating, and it remains his anthem.
Thank you for over 20 years of fantastic music. I can’t wait to see you on Monday, and whatever is left of the mullet from so many years past.
Swoon and smooches,
P.S. I’ll be the blond screaming your name in a spastic “Beatle-fan” froth next to a very tall, very mortified man who won’t be screaming at all.
P.P.S. For anyone who loved Simon and his mullet as hard as I did, Duran Duran tour dates are here.
P.P.P.S. Social media savvy super-fans, follow Duran Duran tweets at #Duransocial.
Somehow, while he waited for his Garbage Can sundae at Applebees tonight (his restaurant choice entirely) - he was still. My birthday boy turned five today, and (ask anyone) this child is never still. But he was. For a quick moment. Leaning up against his dad. Staring out the window at the cars passing by. Considering something. He was still.
Five. So much older than four.
…And I WON’T let that blow my mind.
Because I remember saying once a long while back that when my youngest turned five, I would have deserpate, heartbroken empty nest issues and THAT would be when my babies were officially not babies and a enormous part of my parenting world would shift permanently off its axis and change course forever.
But it’s happened. And here I sit, unscathed and at peace about it, really. I’m just not going there. Nope. Why be glum, after all? There’s too much to look forward to. Plenty of chaotic, uncharted parenting moments ahead. So much to finally be able to do together. All kinds of growing and learning and being a little boy still left in him.
We have sundaes coming, after all.
So, here he is. Very still. Very wonderful. And five.
I got this form in my preschooler’s backpack yesterday.
And when I pulled it out of my son’s bag, this exact thought shot through my head like some breaking news report scrolling across my heart:
“Time needs to stop RIGHT NOW. RIGHT. NOW! How. HOW CAN I MAKE IT STOP. HELP!!! This is insanity. He was in a little infant bucket seat two days ago. He learned to walk yesterday. HOW CAN THIS BE HAPPENING????”
My heart raced. I literally panicked.
Before children, time made plenty of sense. It moved along, one second at a time. Click. Another moment went by. Click. And another. All moments streamed along in the same increments of seconds and minutes. It was rather orderly and predictable and comforting.
But then we fools have children. And time launches into some other worldly kind of flipped out time warp zone.
It’s astounding; Time is fleeting; Madness takes its toll... I’ve got to keep control.
At first time stands still. Perfectly still. At 3am with a squalling baby in your arms and no way to calm him. Hours seem to pass, there is no way he’ll ever get sleep. There’s no way you’ll ever get sleep. You are all alone, there is no rhyme or reason to anything and when you think it must be morning any minute now, you look over at the clock. And it’s only 3:01 am.
Time screeches to a painfully torturous crawl in those wee hours. Or on those early evenings when your child skipped a nap and can not STOP tantruming. The days run together, nothing changes, no time passes, stuck.
And then when you assume your life has been frozen into one tantruming, blown out diaper, up all night teething vortex in time… it passes. And passes fast. Like a bolt. ZIP. That tantruming child with a blown out diaper is suddenly reading you a book, putting on his own pants and brushing his own teeth.
But this is nothing. I’ve been warned it only gets worse. Time tears your children from you faster and faster. They wobble their bikes up and down your sidewalk and then they are gone, speeding over to a friends house to play video games and then pulling out of the driveway in a beater Honda that they bought with their own money.
I know this preschool graduation form is only the smallest example of parental tick tock trickery. Only the most mind-blowing stretches of lost moments have yet to come.
Nothing goes by in any predictable, manageable order.
It’s either frozen or a blur, once stuck in hell and then whizzing by. At first on their way out the door for preschool graduation but arriving a half hour later dressed, recently shaved and ready for High School graduation.
And *poof* gone.
With a bit of a mind flip You’re into the time slip. And nothing can ever be the same. You’re spaced out on sensation. Like you’re under sedation. Let’s do the time-warp again.
I know what this form means. It means time will not stop for me. It will only crank up its speed another notch and whip my little boy further down the path of his childhood.
Oh and while time is at it, it also happens to be speeding up my life without any warning. How am I two years away from 40??? I was in my very late twenties when I got pregnant??
Time, that evil bastard. He has totally played me. He said I had forever with my kids but I never knew “forever” would be on his terms. Slow this mother ship down. RIGHT NOW.
*staring at the form on the table*
Ok. So it’s just a form. Yes, I’d like to order a graduation tassel. Won’t that be cute? And it’s a good thing he’s out of diapers. And 40 isn’t so bad really anyway. If you can’t beat him, join him… right?
Well I was walking down the street just a-having a think When a snake of a guy gave me an evil wink. He shook-a me up, he took me by surprise. He had a pickup truck, and the devil’s eyes. He stared at me and I felt a change. Time meant nothing, never would again.
I was 9 years old and I had no idea it could do such a thing. Because at 9 years old, nothing had ever blown my hair back before or set my gut on fire with a scary, exciting rush. I was only 9 after all. But that’s exactly what happened on a dusty road in Mogadishu in front of my friend’s house.
I’m talking about music. All I knew about it up until that moment was Disco Mickey Mouse. And the Annie movie soundtrack. And some really good Frank Sinatra and jazz albums of my parents. All good. None of it, however, quite worthy of blowing my hair back. None of it quite made me want to jump around and scream and yell and sing until I was hoarse and ignited to the core the way this did. You know that kind of music when it hits you. And I’m afraid it puts daddy’s Frank Sinatra to shame.
So back to the story. We were hanging out in front of my friend’s house. It was a weekend I think because we had nowhere to be and lots of time to kill. There was a large community of Americans in Mogadishu in the very early 80s, and my family was part of it while my father was posted there. And so while we were in one of the most desolate and desperate parts of Africa, we were just kids making do and enjoying our weekend, no different from anywhere in the USA. Because there we were. In our dark blue Jordache jeans with skinny red belts, ringer t-shirts, wearing Lip Smacker lip gloss stolen off some sister’s dresser.
It was hot out and dust whipped our stringy hair around. We sad on old concrete blocks under a thorny Acacia tree. The Somali sun never retreated so we had. Goats ambled by, kicking up more red dust. There was nothing to do.
And then a car drove up. My friend’s older sister ran out of the house. She was only an 8th grader but she knew the really big kids who drove cars. We watched her bend in to say hi. A moment passed and doors opened up, they all stepped out. And then it happened. Music thundered from an old tape deck somewhere within.
Do you know what song it was? The song that ripped into my heart and made me want to rock my head and smile and move and laugh? Cliche or not, it was Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock and Roll.”
I was mind blown.
We froze where we were and listened. As soon as it was done, the song was rewound and played again. And again. Eventually we shuffled quietly over to the back of the car and sat up against its bumper, swaying, nodding our heads, mumbling the words when we knew them. The big kids never noticed or never cared. But we hung there. The whole afternoon. Listening to “I Love Rock n Roll” and “Crimson and Clover”. Over and over.
Joan Jett became a constant by the community pool and at evening social get togethers and at sleep overs and before community movie screenings. Joan Jett’s guitar riffs transplanted a small piece of the U.S. right into an extraordinarily foreign world. She brought some normal, on a loop, over and over.
So of course Joan Jett became my first rock and roll idol. Black leathers, black eyeliner, black shag haircut, bad ass guitar, and a chick-swagger like nothing I had ever seen before. She established in my soul what rock and roll should be, there amongst the Acacia trees and passing goats.
When I arrived home a year later, I snapped on MTV and discovered Cyndi Lauper, Annie Lenox, Toni Basil, Chrissy Hines, Ann and Nancy Wilson… and I got it. I knew it. I wasn’t afraid of it. I was moved and rocked and rolled by all of it. Without any reservation. How could I be, after Joan Jett popped my rock n roll cherry only a year before?
I watched “The Runaways” the other night. It was pretty good and about what I expected. The live show of “Cherrybomb” was sick. Awesome job. And my Joan Jett girl crush certainly never wavered. The 9 year old in Lip Smacker lip gloss lost inside came rushing back and rocked and got light-headed and wanted to scream, kind of.
“Saw him dancing there by the record machine…. knew he must have been about 17.”
This is what happens when I finally tackle cleaning my own closet while the boys are at school. And while standing under the closet’s fluorescent light, in a nest of dust bunnies, between piles of old clothing ready to be heaved, I find stuff and get distracted.
Like an enormous bag of tattered nursing bras that need to be (not given away but) thrown out. Oh but sigh. Remember when I wore these everyday? Remember when my babies were so little and sweet and snugglie? AND MY BODY NOURISHED THEM? And then I stare at that nasty bag of bras and get all philosophical about the many meanings and miracles of life.
*heaving wistful sigh*
Or how about the pin-striped, sear sucker suit my oldest boy wore to my best friend’s wedding when he was just one year old. He couldn’t even walk yet, and there are still grass stains on the knees.
Or my graduation hood or an old dress of my mother’s or pictures and letters and wrapped presents (I wonder what they are?) and toys I heaved in there because my boys were fighting over them and the shirt my husband wore on our first date.
And then, out of nowhere, drops a sweet, fluffy winter cap my first born wore when we lived where there was real winter. A dear little powder blue cap, with pom poms, and flaps for his ears and a snap for under his chin.
This is what happens when you find that stuff.
You grab your child when he gets home from school, squeeze that infant’s hat on his head and force the snap together under his grown chin and make him stand there for a picture. And then you clutch them to you and blubber about how grown they are while they squirm and demand to see the picture and have a good giggle before yanking it off and bounding out of the house to go play zombies with the kid across the street.
This is what happens when I clean.
And it’s not pretty.
(…What is WITH me and all this nostalgic closet cleaning??? But my logic was that if I could do 3 closets and 13 bags for my mom, I could do it for myself too. And what satisfying results! Still. *eyeroll* Get a GRIP woman.)
Sure sure, I’m like every mom struggling to hold on to my boys and freeze time in it’s place. I say it all the time: “Where are my babies?” In fact, I say it so much that when my four year-old climbs into my lap in search of a snuggle, he actually asks me, “Where is your baby, Mommy? I’m all growed up!” Of course I don’t want them grown. Of course. Right?
Well. When no one is around. Sometimes. I curse and wonder when they will GET it already. No, you can put your shirt on by yourself. What do you mean you need me to feed you? Stop eating board game pieces. Hold on a minute, did you actually wipe???
I think – when no one is looking and expecting my wistful, misty, mommy melancholy – I have actually spent far too much of my time secretly shoving my children to the edge of the nest. With loving nudges and well-intentioned heaves, I’ve tried toppling them over the side. Fly, dammit. You can do it. You can go pee in the potty and eat big boy chicken and take a shower by yourself and tie your own shoes. You can ride your bike. You can! Come ON, already, YOU CAN.
I’ve spent hours in front of our house with one hand on my son’s bike seat and one on the handle bars, hunched over, pushing, making momentum, panting and heaving and trying to get that thing to balance.
I thought he would never learn. I thought he had to be the last kid his age unable to ride a bike. I thought I was being too hard on him. I thought I wasn’t a good teacher. I thought it was too hot outside.
So I gave up for the summer.
But finally summer has passed us by in Florida. The windows are open, the doors are open and the kids spend hours screaming their way through the front and back yard and chasing our indoor cat back in who has spring fever too and is desperate to eat just enough grass to throw it all back up on my floor later.
So, with a cooler spring in my step, I gave it a try again. He was ready to go. And. My pushing and shoving and fly, dammit, FLY… well, this time? It worked. He suddenly did it. He just kept going. And going.
And he didn’t need me at all.
Last weekend, I piled the boys, his bike and the tricycle into the car. We went to a nearby dead end with lots of open space to really conquer this whole bike-riding thing once and for all. I packed snacks and drinks. The day was beautiful.
Oh but I put this on myself. I know I did. Because suddenly there I was, alone in the middle of a road with my son soaring far far far ahead of me. Torpedoing over skull crushing concrete and I was no where near him at all to catch him. He was flying. He was gone. And he was thrilled about it.
There are many many milestones in a child’s life. And, thanks to my husband and luck, I have been able to be home to see most of them.
But there was something about this one. This milestone was a fantastic one to reach. But fantastic in that breath-taking “roller coaster” sense, that oh my God, he is doing it, he is on his own, he is in danger and going so fast and doing everything I pushed and shoved and made him do. He’s doing it. What have I done? WHY did I insist on doing this? WHY? Oh my God though look at him GO! And love and pride and his childhood is all over and what a beautiful moment… all rolled into one gorgeous fall day.
So I made a video of it.
I know. WHO wants to see someones kid figure out how to ride their bike? *Groan* It’s soooo “Mommy Blogger” of me and self indulgent and enough already.
But. Really? I love this video. I do. Maybe its the fantastic music I put in by the brilliant composer John Williams (of “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” fame to name a few). I won’t tell you which theme song I picked but… it’s perfect. And it makes me weep, I tell you. Especially the end, please wait for the end. I’ve seen it a thousand times now, but… still. Tears.
So if you love me, you’ll indulge me. And watch my boy soar.