Every morning, so early my eyes could barely focus, I would stand downstairs in the kitchen, preparing very specific lunch and snack requests for my kids for the day. On auto-pilot, I would boil the water for fresh pasta (parmesan in a Ziplock bag on the side) or Annie's Macaroni and cheese shells. Yellow only. And don't even think about elbows.
There were other annoying necessities, such as slicing grapes, not only so that they wouldn't be choking hazards, but also because the bruised ends which attached to the vine offended them. The crusts on any sandwich must be banished, and hard boiled eggs must be void of any remnants of yellow. Any.
As mommy to young kids, there were so many particulars that needed tending to simply get through a day responsibly and with the least amount of tantrums -- "Not the blue bowl!!! The red!" But now that we're a bit older, a lot of these peculiarities have faded away. And now, believe it or not, I kind of miss them. Well, some of them...
1. The 3 a.m. Wanderer.
It wasn't a routine thing. I was always pretty strong about keeping my bed, uh, I mean mine and my husband's bed off-limits, but there were times when I would wake to find a child's foot kicking me in the back, or an arm over my face. So annoying.... yet, strangely warm and sweet.
2. The Tickle Back.
For years, I couldn't leave my middle child's room without going through an elaborate ritual. "Tickle back, Mommy! Do it harder... softer... No, this way... You forgot arms... Sorry, you didn't do that well. Try again!" It was an arduous test to pass every night before I was released to my own rewards of ice cream and Real Housewives.These days, I am literally dismissed. "You can go now, Mommy." Sigh.
3. The Bus Stop.
The bus stop is on my corner and I am the corner house, so it's not exactly a schlep. Still, I stood there, sometimes freezing, sometimes corralling a younger sib or worrying because I left someone in front of the TV. I'd wait impatiently to hear those screechy brakes on the corner before ours. But now my kids are perfectly capable and happy to walk the 10 feet to the curb themselves while I watch from the doorway.
"Mommy, let's play Pokemon/Lego/dinosaur battle!" Really? Do we have to? Apparently, we always did. So we'd sit on the floor, set up 100 figures and then "pshew pshew" shoot and fly them across the floor at each other. "What are you gonna do?!" My kid would ask desperately, as I tried to sneak a peek at the open newspaper next to us. "Uh, I'm gonna thunder punch?" I'd say, without enthusiasm. "Revolving kick!" He'd boom back energetically, clearly to make me look bad in front of my "men." Not that it mattered. His figures would always spin round and round, throwing mine across the room. These days, the only thing the boys want to battle with me over is their playing time on iTouch, Computer or Wii.
5. The Butt Wipe.
Yeah, I know. Who'd miss that, right? And while I might not actually miss the physical wiping, I definitely do miss the build-up. The "Mom! I need to poop!" dance, followed by screams of, "Done! Done! DONE!!" And then there are all those fascinating positions for optimal wiping. Okay, TMI, but -- now my little boys just go on their own. Done. At least they still regularly forget to lift the seat and I wind up sitting on pee. Sigh. It's the little things.
6. Mommy Don't Go!
Oh the drama! Oh the tears! But boys, mommy is only going out for a little. Mommy needs wine and therapy... I mean friends. Cue clinging, snotting and hanging on legs. On occasion, a child would be physically ripped wailing from my body as I ran out the door, only to be seen as a desperate little face banging on the window. They couldn't bear to part with me. Now they stare at the TV as I yell loudly, "BYE!" and they (sometimes) look up and bless me with a smile.
All the older moms always say, you'll miss these days when they're gone. I look around. There are toys and crap everywhere, laundry piled high. I b*tch about it constantly. Will I miss this mess? I consider my house, devoid of the clutter, neat and perfect (come on, it's a hypothetical fantasy!), and immediately, I know I will. Because when it's gone, they're gone.
I'm going to try to remember that the next time I'm dragging my kid out of bed to wake up.
*My youngest just forced me into having a Battle of the Skylander Figures. Taking #4 off the list immediately. Bleh!
This essay and others like it can be found at Icescreammama.com.