When I imagined motherhood, I never imagined hoping that it would go a little faster. That was until I was thrust into the trenches of new motherhood with 2 little kids. I felt overwhelmed, and life was not what I had expected. I found myself jealous of other mothers who were past the stage of diapers, and night time feedings, and holding buckets for little ones that couldn’t make it to the bathroom when they were sick.
I felt a constant tug and pull of guilt that I wasn’t enjoying enough, while simultaneously feeling elation at watching my kids grow and experience new things. Being a parent in the trenches was amazing and overwhelming all at the same time. I found myself playing the “I can’t wait” game.
I can’t wait until they can feed themselves. I can’t wait until everyone is potty trained. I can’t wait until….
Last week my youngest turned four, and I can finally visualize climbing out of the trenches. I see the light at the end of the tunnel when I picture him in Kindergarten in two short years, and I am looking forward to new adventures with older kids. Everyone can use the potty and everyone can feed themselves. I see them stretch their new independence a little more everyday, and I see my free time expanding.
But, here’s what I didn’t expect. I find myself clinging to stay put. In the trenches. In the hard years I’ve wanted so desperately to get out of. I didn’t expect that while climbing out, I’d desperately want to crawl back in.
I guess I expected to shout for joy, and do cartwheels or something. I didn’t expect to have glimpses of my own independence and feel a pang of loneliness.
Sure, everyone has told me about 3 million times since becoming a mom that “It goes so fast!”
They’re so right. But, a couple of years ago, I would scoff at the remarks and think to myself, Good! I can’t wait until…
Because I really couldn’t wait. But, now I’m finding I can wait on everything. There has been this shift in me that I can feel. I want to wait all of a sudden. I even find myself savoring the waiting some days. When my four year old takes forever to do something just to get my attention, I find myself wanting to give him the attention. Even feeling sad if I can’t. Hating myself for ushering the hurry ups and we’re going to be lates.
Because I finally kind of like it here in the trenches now that it’s time to leave.
I sat through a middle school concert this week and felt a pang of dread. I had a knot in my stomach knowing I’ll have a middle school kid in 3 years. Middle schoolers aren’t awful. In fact I know several that I really like. It’s just that I don’t want to be a mom of a middle school kid yet. I want tiny, squeaky voices, and tiny arms wrapped around my neck. I want to carry little kids, and snuggle with them where I can wrap them up and they disappear in my arms. I want to stay in the trenches, thank you.
That’s what I didn’t expect.
But, the thing I love about where I am now is that I don’t want to live with regrets either. I don’t want to regret that once I came out of the trenches I kept looking at the past. Because that’s no better, really. It’s not better to wish for the past the way I was wishing for the future before. In fact, if we’re always looking somewhere else than where we are, then we’ll miss it. We’ll wish it all away without realizing it.
So I’m focusing on not looking back yet. Not until they’re a little older. Because while the trenches might now feel magical with silly dances when they pee on the potty for the first time, and the sound of your baby saying mama for the first time, they’re not any more magical than today.
Today is magical in its own way.
It’s magical that my big kid now can get my jokes and sarcasm and join in. It’s magical not take a diaper bag that feels like a bowling bag with me on every errand. It’s magical to not have to worry that they won’t look both ways before crossing the street.
It’s all magical, really. So, I’m going to tell myself that I need to climb out of the trenches so that I can grow in this new phase of life. And, I’m telling myself that I can’t wait.