“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!!