Recently, I found myself sitting in a warm car in a mall parking lot just after sun-up with B. Under grey skies, the car running for heat, we listened to a CD someone had made for us that we both liked. She burbled like a fountain about her day. We were waiting for a teammate and his parent to meet us and drive her an hour away to a hockey game. She was surprisingly excited, considering she didn’t know this family well. I, cozy in slippers and sweat pants, sipping tea, was totally grateful to this parent, thrilled to be going home after this drop-off.
One of the worries hovering in the back of my mind is the small stain of loneliness that spreads when the girls have big-life experiences without me. I’ve gone to almost every ballet performance, show, recital, game or pubic event open to me. It was exciting. This is part of what I’m parenting for, these celebrations marking my children’s life. Even if I’ve been bored – most of these events are things only a mother could love — I’ve wanted to be there for everything, to share what they are doing, seeing, learning. I know part of this is driven by me, but the parenting root of it is that I simply wanted to be there for them, as physically as possible.
If I take that thought to its logical conclusion, then I’d be sitting in small hard chairs running back and for between the third and fifth grades every day so I wouldn’t miss a thing. I’d be sitting in on their play dates, reliving Harry Potter for the 130th time and trying to laugh at fart jokes. And I simply can’t. I’m just a prim old lady when it comes to poop, and I’m an impatient b*#^h after say, the tenth time of hearing the same thing again. It reminds me of how much I looked forward to going on swings with my toddlers and realizing, with sadness, that what was needed was much more of mommy pushing swings like a robot than mommy getting to fill in missing holes of her childhood.
But I see now, as in all other things, that nature is handling the growing separation beautifully by the carefully modulated method of overwhelm. My brain is physically not capable of handling what they’re doing. Their interests are growing…their awareness of their interests…their opinions of their interests – all soaring exponentially in every direction. I couldn’t keep up with it if I cloned myself 100 times.
I’m fielding their ideas like a tennis-ball pitching machine has run amok: Why are people camping about banks? Can I have mascara? I’m not doing that because I don’t feel like it! Mom, did you know the Egyptians used to stuff hair up their nose when they died? That food makes me GAG, Mom!
And, dear god, the driving is ramping up this year. Besides our dawn rides, I’ve turned down my first opportunity to pick up my child after a party at 10pm. The part of me that frets about not being there (we’re not even knocking yet at the door of my not being wanted) is way back in line, while my brain open-mouthed with amazement, cogitates make-up and protest movements. Part ADD, part brain freeze, part ruthless, Darwinian choosing of the most important. Whatever – the girls are claiming their own lives, and nature is helping me let them.