I see you moms out there with your young children, enjoying all sorts of family-friendly activities. I see the joy on your faces as you watch the joy on theirs. Excuse me if I look a bit morose as our eyes meet. I used to be that mom too. My kids used to delight in new experiences and adventures, and they could be as simple as stopping by a new park to play or going for a walk in the neighborhood.
I used to “drag” our family out to all sorts of places in the name of entertainment. Maximum effort, ??? benefit. WE’RE GOING TO HAVE FUN, DARN IT. I’d make plans for us to get out of the house every Saturday, Sunday, and not-major weekday holiday. I knew if we didn’t, we’d go stir-crazy. Our kids would not only get on our nerves, they would get on each other’s nerves and everyone would end up yelling and/or crying (adults included).
My kids used to be those kids, the ones who would play their hearts out and then fall asleep during the car ride back home or to the next stop. Now we don’t even last a full hour at the Madison Children’s Museum before my school-agers are asking me to go home. You know, where we have tablets, computers, TVs, and innumerable game consoles. I feel my blood pressure sky-rocket when someone dares utter the phrase “I’m bored.” to me.
Like so many stages of childhood, the one your children are in is short-lived, in the grand scheme of things. And I am envious you are still in that stage, whereas I am far past it and probably won’t be back there until I am a grandmother. And if that happens in the next 10-15 years, uh, it will be too soon.
Appearances can be deceiving, of course. I also know for most of you, naptime is still a struggle and tantrums are more common than you’d like. I know you still argue about appropriate clothes and eating vegetables. Accidents happen, attention spans are short, and you’re tired to the bone. You’re worried about kindergarten or pre-kindergarten and your precocious little one running out into a busy street. I used to be that mom too.
I don’t know when it changed and when I got where I am now, exactly. I don’t remember the last time I carried a toddler on my hip or kissed an owie. I don’t remember the last time I enforced naptime or tried my best to quell a tantrum. All of that is in the rear-view mirror for me, but I like passing you by and feeling nostalgic while silently wishing you well.