Saturday, October 24, 2009

My First Kidlife Crisis

kidlife crisis n (2009): a period of emotional turmoil that occurs when a parent realizes that his or her once tiny baby is no longer so tiny, and has reached a previously unimaginable age. The parent views this marching of time as unacceptable. Longing for the child's younger days, the parent may spend hours browsing old photographs, watching home movies, and sighing over babies.*

So, I've experienced my first kidlife crisis. It started back in September, when the preparations for Laura's birthday began. I really couldn't believe she was about to be five. Five is old. Five is a big kid, not a baby. Five is the age that other kids are, but not my little girl, no sir. She's a baby and will be staying that way. Not that I think she's an infant, or treat her as such, but when I see a lady out and about with a baby in an infant carrier, sometimes I find myself thinking, "Isn't that nice that we both have babies." Then I realize that my baby is actually off at pre-K and she weighs 35 pounds and just that morning had a discussion with me about our dog's uterus (note: oh yes, we really did have that conversation!) Not such a baby anymore, I suppose.

I imagine I'll have similar crises as she gets older. The Army Man and I always joke about what trouble she's going to be as a teenager, and I don't doubt it. But I truly can't even imagine what that will be like. No more than I could have imagined her as a 5 year old when she was brand new. It's simply unfathomable. I look at her and try to picture her going to elementary school, calling friends on the phone, driving, dating, going to college, getting married, having her own children. But all I see is a little baby, screaming and crying for one reason or another. Or a tiny little girl, laughing that deep, crazy belly laugh that only little kids can manage. It's like "Father Of The Bride", only a million times more so.

And so, as I sat there one night, experiencing my kidlife crisis, I looked through old pictures of Laura and I wrote this piece (or whatever you want to call it). I'm not sure how much sense it makes, but it felt wonderful to write, and I think I'll share it. Be warned: since this post is written by a Mommy about her child, it's going to be a long one.
I’m the brand new mother to a tiny little baby. She’s bald and thin, and she cries all the time. All she ever wants to do is nurse, and she never spits up. Her poop is disgusting and no diaper can hold it in. She must be carried horizontally to the changing table, like an offering, to avoid leakage. She never wants to sleep. Her bouncy seat is what I put her in at 3am to get her back to sleep, to keep her quiet so she doesn’t wake up her grandparents whom we’re living with. Her Daddy is back in Georgia finishing his Army training. He made it in time to see her be born, but had to leave when she was three days old. I’m a disappointed mother. This experience is nothing like what I had imagined: there’s no nursery that I lovingly decorated ahead of time. My husband wasn’t home to run out and buy me ice cream when I was pregnant. I don’t even live in my own house. I’m moving in just a few weeks, across the country, away from my family and friends. I’m sad and scared, but would never tell anyone. I’m a confused mother. I didn’t feel the instant love for my daughter that I thought I should. I don’t feel like a natural. I’m in pain, trying to recover from a childbirth experience that was more traumatic than I ever could have imagined. I feel completely unprepared to be responsible for this tiny, beautiful little girl. I feel young and old all at once. I never knew I could love someone so much.
I’m the exhausted mother of a tiny little girl. She’s one and never sleeps. Eating is a disaster. She’s always choking on her food, and she doesn’t want to use the sippy cup. She’s been walking for almost 3 months now. She hates shoes and always wants to be barefoot. She’s still bald, but she’s gorgeous. Pale white skin and beautiful blue eyes. A tiny little thing, occasionally mistaken for a doll. She is the center of attention everywhere she goes. She waves to strangers and people can’t seem to resist stopping to talk to her. She’s starting to talk, saying “dog” as her very first word. I never knew I could love someone so much.
I’m the exasperated mother of a tiny toddler. She’s two and she’s into everything. She loves to dance. She goes to daycare and is the favorite of her teacher. She gives up the ‘pa-pa’ (pacifier) in exchange for a doodle pad. She gets her tonsils and adenoids removed and can suddenly eat without choking. She’s insanely energetic and always trying to give me a heart attack with her antics-jumping off the couch, playing by the stairs, running away in stores. She starts to grow a little bigger. She learns to use the potty and never has a single nighttime accident. Daytime is an entirely different story. She favors her Daddy yet always calls for me at night. Her smile is so charming and silly, and her pout is just delightful. I never knew I could love someone so much.
I’m the desperate mother of a little minion of the devil. She’s three and has stopped napping. She’s still not sleeping through the night. She’s making me realize the terrible two’s are nothing. She misses her Daddy who’s gone for six months. She cries and screams and whines and makes me contemplate locking myself in my bedroom. She’s getting smarter every day. She knows her last name, she’s dressing herself. She loves princesses. She knows how to use the digital camera and always wants to take pictures. She plays pretend games with me. She tells me hysterical, clever things like, “We have a situation” which make up for all of the grief she gives me. I never knew I could love someone so much.I’m the hopeful mother of a not-so-tiny little girl. She’s four and she’s staring to behave. She’s growing like crazy. She talks all the time. I’m continually amazed by the things that she says. She wants to learn about the human body. She’s sensitive and caring. She loves going to preschool and is friends with all the boys. She loves to sing. She dresses herself and favors her pink tutu and blue boots. She has an imaginary friend named “Little Bug” who is constantly causing trouble. He has to be spanked frequently. She loves playing outside. I never knew I could love someone so much.
I’m the mother of the most beautiful, smartest, funniest five year old girl. She is dramatic. She is outgoing. She is sweet. Something about her personality is magnetic. Her teachers love her. The kids in her class always want to play with her. If we go to a store, the clerks want to give her things (candy seems to be the most popular offering). She prides herself on following the “rules” and loves to discuss other people who don’t. She is very concerned about safety. She’s bossy but not in a forceful way (most of the time). She’s stubborn and wants to get her way, yet continually surprises me with her generous nature. She hates to lose any game we play. She’s extremely sensitive and empathetic, and will cry if someone else is in pain. She hates shots but loves the doctor. Her scream is eardrum piercing. Suddenly she’s interested in babies and loves to hold their hands and help them walk around. I’m shocked that my rough and tumble girl holds their hands so gently and sweetly. She never stops talking. She loves to spell words and will approach me and say in one long drawn out breath, “How to you spell ‘I love you so much and you are my best friend and I want to play with you’?” and expect me to sit there and dictate the entire sentence to her. The excuse “That’s how God made me” is heard frequently from her. She loves drawing and does a better job at it than her mother. She tells me she loves me and it's the best feeling in the world.

I never could have imagined what having a child would be like, but it’s fantastic. Loving someone so much is easy when she’s Laura.

*A million kudos and thanks to my friend Angela for coming up with this oh-so-clever name. I think it's a stroke of genius. I do however, give myself credit for writing the definition.


Three Dog Days said...

That is a very poingent essay. I was laughing out loud and also teary eyed at th sweetness. I wish I could be around Larua more! You should print this out and save it so she can read it someday when you are both old.

Patty said...

You did such a wonderful job of capturing a mother's feelings as her child grows up. Keep writing it down every year, before you know it 27 years have passed, and that baby has a baby of their own who is growing up way too fast too! She is a very special girl, we are missing her more than I can say.

Rachael said...

that is the sweetest thing. :)

Michelle said...

Beautifully said. My babies just turned 4 and 1.....not little babies anymore!

What a great post.

SGT V said...

So how many times did you cry while writing this?