Saturday, December 18, 2010

Growing Up Is Hard To Do

I hesitate to put this out in the universe, but I think a corner has been rounded in my household. Mathilda is indeed sleeping in her crib for the fourth night in a row. She has fallen asleep on her own these four nights, with very few tears involved. I read to her and Lucy (Mathilda stays safely across the room from me as I read), put on a movie for them (I know, I know ~ terrible habit! but it works so I'm sticking with it), put Mathilda in the crib while carefully avoiding eye contact (because if she looks me in the eye, it'll be all over, I just know it!), and turn off the light. Then as I'm heading down the stairs she calls out "buh-bye" and that's that. The trauma has been incredibly minimal.

I've been waiting for this momentous occasion. Yet...I'm kind of sad about it. My baby is growing up. She suddenly doesn't need me as much as she did last week. There's no going back. A little part of me just wants to crawl in bed and cry because, well, I've done this before and I know in the blink of an eye this baby of mine is going to be coming home from school and telling me she has a boyfriend (in 4th grade?! WTH?!) and I'm going to look at her and suddenly get a glimpse of what she'll look like when she's 18. She'll make her own sandwiches, tie her own shoes, and modestly close her bedroom door when she's changing her clothes. 

I have four beautiful, healthy children and really, I'm good with that. Truthfully I always wanted to have four kids. And I think I'm teetering on a fine line between slightly lingering sanity and utter chaotic mayhem. But...every stage Mathilda passes is sort of heartbreaking. I miss the baby days. And soon I'll be missing the toddler days. And knowing I'm never going to go through it again (because I'm not) is hard.

(wait, let me dry my tears)

On the other setting their own alarms, waking up on their own, and fixing their own cereal in the morning is nice. So is kids getting in the van on their own and buckling their own seat belts, not to mention answering the phone, feeding the dog, taking their own showers, and changing the channel on the t.v. As my kids gain independence one step at a time, my life gets a little easier. I enjoy and appreciate that. But I also cherish each stage and yearn for the Wonder Twin power to freeze time every now and again.

Many years ago, back in 7th or 8th grade, one of my friends wrote a story that I've never forgotten.  I can't remember the name of it (there's a good chance the class compilation it was published in is still in my mom's basement...) but it was about bottling up memories, special times in our lives, and being able to open the bottles and re-live those moments any time we choose. Like bathing in the essence of your wedding day, smelling and hearing and seeing and feeling everything you experienced at that moment. Can you imagine? In my mind, that is what heaven is like. I have no idea how my friend knew the poignancy of what she wrote at that age, when life seemed to span on for an eternity and stalling time was the last thing I would have wanted to do because I was forever anticipating the next thing, whatever that was. I don't know if you're reading this, Jen Beckmann, but if you are, thank you for that story (among many other things).

All my babies are growing up, and it is bittersweet. I miss who they were, enjoy who they've become, and joyfully look forward to what's to come.


Shelly said...

She has always been very wise beyond her years hasnt she :)

Melinda said...

As a mom of 5, you know I can totally relate. The only consolation I have, and it's a great one, is knowing that I get to do this all over again some day with my grandchildren!