Not looking back – much

“Are you going to cry?” asked our preschool director when she gave me the invitation for Levi’s Moving Up Ceremony.  “About what?” I asked knowing exactly about what.  “Aren’t you going to feel emotional about your baby leaving preschool and going to kindergarten?”  “No,” I said in a slightly more dismissive tone than was necessary.

I’ve been that disagreeable mother who has aggressively and vocally balked every time anyone has implied that I should mourn infancy, toddlerhood, elementary school, etc. 

“Enjoy them while you can.  It goes so quickly.” 

“Really?  Does it?  It didn’t go quickly when Asher made his way out into the world 8 1/2 years ago and nearly ripped my vagina in half.  (It did go quickly with Levi after Asher had significantly distended the passageway.) It didn’t go quickly when they were attached to my boob for about a year while I wore heinous nursing tops that I changed frequently throughout the day due to seepage stains.  It certainly didn’t go quickly when they weren’t sleeping through the night and I walked the earth like the savage undead void of patience or humor or good grooming habits.  It didn’t go quickly when I was changing diapers and wiping poop out of anuses long after they were eating and digesting big kid food. And it doesn’t go quickly now when they’re having a bad day or when they’re sick and puking everywhere EXCEPT in the toilet or when they’re beating the crap out of each other or when I have to tell them for the 98th time, no, you can not eat pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner nor can you play together naked.  Quickly?!?  I think you have a short memory and a desperate need to justify why you had kids in the first place.”

“I don’t know what my life was like before I had kids.”

“No?  I do.  I was financially rewarded for my skills and I went where I wanted, when I wanted without worrying about childcare.  I took amazing vacations and dined in hip restaurants.  I always had time to work out, and I saw every Oscar nominated film BEFORE the Oscars.  AND, I didn’t have to get rid of my favorite pairs of shoes because all that extra weight during pregnancy flattened and elongated my feet like flowers pressed under an unabridged dictionary.
“I’d do it all over again.”

“Yeah.  I’m not so sure I would.”  And then I get the horrified look at which point I realize I’ve crossed some sort of sacred motherhood line, and I should have kept that particular truth to myself.  “I mean, I love them any everything, and I’d throw myself in front of a bus for them, but I’m just suggesting that if they had never been born and I didn’t know what I was missing, I might have really enjoyed my life anyway.  But the fact is I won’t know and hope never to know if I really would really throw myself in front of a bus for them.  That’s gotta hurt, right?”  I realize I just crossed another line.

Then I make the mistake of trolling through old photos and videos and hours later, I find that I’ve fallen in love with these snapshot children who ham it up in front of the camera and say cute things in baby voices.  I think to myself, man they’re adorable, and just for a flash of a minute, I mourn the past and wonder how childhood could be racing ahead so quickly.  
I select one last video to prove how insignificant all those gruesome days were along the way when I hear a thud from above that convinces me that the roof has fallen through to the floor below followed by a duet of shrill screams from one child and deep, agonizing wails from the other.

After I’ve assessed, admonished, cuddled and made empty threats to prevent the next calamity, I make my way back downstairs and shake my head at those sweet pictures on my computer.  They almost had me fooled.

I’ll take loads of pictures at Levi’s moving up ceremony so that I can remember all the joyful milestones and imagine him always as the innocent child he is–full of wonder and appreciation for life.  Every day, I am proud of him, and I celebrate each step forward.   But I don’t think I’m going to get misty-eyed.  And if I do, I’ll just remind myself how much money I won’t be paying for preschool!  Move on up, Levi!!

10 thoughts on “Not looking back – much

  1. “.. I didn’t have to get rid of my favorite pairs of shoes because all that extra weight during pregnancy flattened and elongated my feet like flowers pressed under an unabridged dictionary.” I love how you put things!!!

    I completely understand, I often feel like something is wrong with me when I have feelings like this. I’m thrilled that my son is growing up and I try to get as many pictures as possible, try to get him to do fun kids. I don’t wish he’d remain a kid forever and never felt sad when he moved from stage to stage. I love my kid but I do miss my pre-parent days, and they were not that exciting.

    1. …miss my pre-parent days, and they were not that exciting. YES!

      Some people find their calling when they have children and they love babies and infancy and feeling needed. They love toddling little rugrats more than they love sleep or freedom or financial solvency. We are clearly not those people. But I bet our kids will do just fine. I absolve you of all guilt!

  2. I’m totally with you on this one. And also – there’s a big difference between rethinking past decisions and “doing it all over again.” I vacillate on the impossible question of whether, knowing what I know now about kids, I would make the same decisions I made when I was 32 and desperate to get pregnant. But I certainly wouldn’t choose to relive every moment of the last 7 1/2 years with children. For what it’s worth.

    1. It’s worth a boat-load, I’d say. Onward and upward and don’t look back! I think, in fact, it does get better. Well, I’m counting on it, anyway.

  3. i do so like you.
    i have to say… these ‘ceremonies’ for such things as say passing from nursery school to kindergarten are …well just overkill.
    we did it… 20 some-odd-years ago. it was dumb then, its dumb now. i did not cry. why would i? i was actually annoyed i had to go.
    i am not quite sure what the accomplishment was, why were we celebrating – other than the fact the kid old enough to enroll in public school and we could stop writing checks finally.
    oops…did i say all that out loud…

    1. I like the idea of celebrating not paying for public school. Instead of a moving up ceremony, we should just call it a stop the hemorrhaging ceremony! I’d sing and clap my hands for that kind of party!!

  4. I just found your blog and I can already tell that I need to read more of it. Because I adore my daughter, and yet that in no way means that every moment is a Disney woodland of hopping and skipping joy. And neither was that Disney woodland, because after all Bambi’s mother got shot. But I digress.

    I’m already not looking forward to Baguette’s kindergarten “graduation.” I don’t even know what that means. Mind you, we’ll go, and we’ll take pictures, and we’ll share them, even as we feel ridiculous doing so.

    But I don’t miss her newborn or baby days. I enjoyed them every bit as much as I was able, given how exhausted I was, but I’m really enjoying her as she is now. So I don’t want to repeat it. Which makes the thought of having a second child complicated, doesn’t it?

    1. Ah the 2nd child conundrum. You’ll never know what the “right” decision is, and everyone has an opinion on the subject. You know you’ll love that 2nd kid, and yet… Wouldn’t it be great to have a crystal ball and peek into what might be? Good luck with that decision!! And good luck and congrats on B’s kindergarten graduation. Regardless of how proud or miserable you might be, she’ll be thrilled that you’re there. The things we do, huh?

      And welcome!!

  5. Amen. I’m so ready for my 8 month old, my son, my only boy out of three children, to hurry up and get through this phase so he can sleep through the night. All my life I have wanted to be a mother, my son has at times made me question my choice of motherhood. I love him dearly, but the rough infancy has taken a toll on this mama. My Mister and I joke that if we married and went on a honeymoon, rather than the usual wedding night activities, he can so see me saying “Woohoo, no kids!!!”, downing some wine and promptly passing out for a week. Sometimes, this mama thing isn’t all sparkles and unicorns.

    1. I hear you on the rough infancy! Parents with older children seem to believe that it’s all worth it in the end, but I wonder if it’s just early dementia. May the clouds part for you soon!

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