If there were ever a moment I wanted time to freeze, it’s right now. There have been times I wished you would stop growing, or at least slow down the pace so I had a minute to enjoy it, but never before have I felt so strongly that I want you to stay exactly the way you are forever. This past week could very well have been my favorite week of being your mom so far. Although your will grows stronger by the day and everything (I repeat, everything) must be done on your terms, you are immediately forgiven for any ill behavior each time my heart swells with pride as a result of a new word you say or cute thing you do.
In the grocery store recently, a woman who had been watching us from a distance came up behind me and softly said with a smile, “You certainly have a spirited one there.” Spirited. Stubborn. Headstrong. Energetic. All of these words have been used by others to describe you. For the most part I’ve always rejected the notion that you were doing anything that wasn’t age appropriate. Insisting on doing something all by yourself, while at the same time getting so upset that you throw it across the room? Doesn’t every child do that? Complete meltdowns if your bedtime routine is even slightly thrown off (this has only been very recently)? Isn’t that normal? Standing on the back of the couch and violently hurling your body onto the cushions below, laughing the entire time? Is that not standard behavior? I’ve recently begun entertaining the thought that maybe, just maybe, you are a little more intense than the next kid.
You are putting words together now, like “daddy home”,”no way”, “Dixie eat”, and “thank you, mama”. However, like other milestones I was once excited for you to reach — crawling, walking, etc. — you’ve quickly learned how to use this skill to your advantage. Our mornings usually consist of a series of emphatic “no’s” to my questions of “Do you want milk? Juice? Cereal? Oatmeal?” Followed by your demands of “weedee” (tv) and “lot lat meeo” (chocolate milk). When I attempt to get you dressed for the day the “no’s” return, often joined by several “mine’s”. Just when I think that maybe this whole talking thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, you come up to me and ask for my hand, “han? han?”. You then lead me to the couch or rocking chair, climb up into my lap, wrap your arms around my neck and say “la you” (love you). And that’s when I can’t help but think there is no sweeter sound in the world than your little voice.
Summer (I almost hate to say this for fear of jinxing it, since two weeks ago we woke up to snow) has finally arrived! Last week we took you and Shylee to Palisades (a little lake near our house) and you absolutely loved everything about it – the sand, the sun, the water, the minnows swimming at your feet. It was a reminder to me of how much you’ve grown in the past year, since last year when we visited the same spot you had next to no hair on your head and you could barely crawl in and out of the water. This time you were splashing and running around in the water, excitedly saying “hello” to everyone that passed and throwing rocks into the water, fascinated by the splash they made. As I there watching you, as silly as this sounds, I started to get a little teary eyed thinking of how quickly you have grown and just how grateful I am to be your mom. Then I noticed that you were about to eat a dead minnow you found, which snapped me right back into the present.
A couple weeks ago I was bragging talking with someone about you. She was a mother herself, with children almost as old as I am. At one point during the conversation she said that a woman’s life is over once she has children, then went on to describe some of the things that are especially difficult about having kids: sleepless nights, endless loads of laundry, the constant worrying, never having a moment alone, and she went on and on and on. I didn’t say anything to her because she was almost old enough to be my mother, with far more wisdom and life experience than I have, but what she said really bothered me.
Yes, being a mom is hard work, sometimes really hard work. There are times that I fantasize about renting a fancy hotel room, taking a bath in a big jacuzzi tub, reading a good book and then curling up in bed ALL BY MYSELF. But the truth is that even if I ever got out of the house alone, I’d probably only last an hour or two before I turned around and came right back home. You see, I guess there are some women who feel that they lose themselves once they begin having children, but I honestly don’t feel that way at all. My life began once you came into it.
All the extra laundry, the lack of sleep, being puked and pooped on, the frustration of your high-pitched screams, public temper tantrums and never ending “no’s” — all of it pales in comparison to the realization that my dreams of having a family, of seeing myself in my child’s eyes, of nurturing and growing another life, of having a child in a floppy pink hat who evokes smiles from total strangers as she excitedly shouts “hewwo” from the water’s edge as they pass… all those dreams of mine have come true. I’M LIVING THEM RIGHT NOW, and that, my dear, is what life is all about.
P.S. Just a few minutes ago I glanced over my shoulder to see you in the living room, jumping up and down on a little trampoline. Totally naked.