if you had told me back in my days of diapers and sippie cups that having a teenager could be just as demanding as having a newborn, i would have laughed you back into last week. but i am here to say people, walking someone through puberty is no joke.
now before you recently post-partumed ladies get your knickers all in a twist, let me say that while my shoe-tying, bottom-wiping, nap-time days are behind me, they are not so far in the distant past that i don’t remember the energy-draining, tear-inspiring, hair-pulling madness of infants and toddlers. the demands of early motherhood have no rival. navy seals should be required to serve a tour of duty searching for pacifiers and listening to “wheels on the bus” a million times a day.
while young children may be an undeveloped weapon of war, as the mother of a thirteen year old who seems to grow an inch every time i turn around, there are other demands, emotional and mental, that weren’t nearly as complex back when barney was cool. isn’t it just like kids to go and change their list of demands just about the time we feel capable of meeting them? just as i celebrated the end of pack and plays and diaper bags, i get blindsided by new needs i didn’t see coming.
through years of interrupted sleep and endlessly monotonous days, a part of me retreated deep inside. it’s like a part of my emotional, intellectual self was hibernating. sure, i laughed and cried with my babies. i answered their questions about the nature of space and humanity, but i also shut off a place in my head that was reserved for coffee dates with the hubby or girls’ night chatter.
i wasn’t aware of just how far i had retreated into myself until my maturing kids started to invade that space. they are no longer satisfied with superficial conversation or half-listening head nods. i took them all to the children’s museum, ready to lose myself in a book for a few hours while they discovered the wonders of dinosaurs and soil erosion. instead, my oldest sat beside me the whole time and had the audacity to wish to speak to me! can you believe his cheeky nerve? i found myself irritated at the intrusion and have to confess, i repelled his attempts at conversation with more annoyance than tact.
it has taken me a good part of the summer to realize what is going on and to start to do something about it. it’s like being woken up from a deep sleep and taking a few minutes to orient yourself. now that i am finally waking up to this new phase of parenting, i am actually starting to enjoy myself. i am shaking off the bed covers of my brain and starting to share more of myself with these emerging people known as my children. after years of feeling lonely and isolated by my role as a stay-at-home mom, i am enjoying our new found companionship. i have a feeling, like their time as infants and toddlers, this won’t last forever and is best treasured while it lasts. thank goodness their personal maintenance skills are lagging behind their conversational skills. once they conquer the kitchen and the laundry room, i will be totally obsolete.