Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Motherhood Is Like a Bridesmaid Dress

As parents, we are constantly looking forward: to the next milestone, the next accomplishment, the next level, the next birthday... the next night when all is quiet and we can finally relax.  Sometimes we forget to look back.  Or we forget what it was really like when our own kids went through various stages.

I am fortunate enough to have my nephew with me once a week during the summer.  He is five (going on 23) and he brings to mind all the funny stuff from that age with a figurative smack to the head, like "Oh yeah!  I remember when they did that!"

He has a one-track mind.  Any game that is worth playing is worth doing for hours straight.  He was laughing with my older son and kept saying "Again, do it again Zack!" because thankfully my boys can be sweet and sensitive and loving with him even when it's impossible for them to be kind to each other.  And he remembers when he comes here that Auntie Karen has Hungry Hungry Hippos.  That fun game gets trotted out every time he's here.  The noise of plastic hippo heads slamming down onto marbles skittering around on a plastic surface really wakes you up in the morning. It should be called Miserable Miserable Migraine.

Last week he was obsessed with the idea of going swimming.  Just one problem prevented us from doing this: I don't have a pool or belong to a homeowner's association that has a pool.  He kept pointing out places that might have pools.  I tried to distract him by taking him to a friend's house.  I told him, "My friend has chickens, a bunny, and a duck that you can see.  Won't that be fun?"  And he said, "A duck, huh?  You know what ducks do?  Swim!"  Yeah, kid.  I get it.  So today I had plans to meet a friend at her pool and go swimming - but he didn't want anything to do with that.  Of course, my dog appreciated the thought... she got into his backpack, pulled out his flip flops, and proceeded to chew them into small rubber chunks.  I bet the duck doesn't pull that crap.

I love the kid conversations that go places you never expected.  Today he tells me:

I have a friend named Emma.  But she hurt her hand.  Twice.  I thought I was the baddest friend ever and that I hurt her.  It turns out she ran over her hand with her own bike.  I wasn't the baddest friend ever!  So we went and watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Alrighty then!  The rest of our conversations center around "Why?" or "How come?"  I forgot how much explaining my days contained when my guys were younger.

I knew that my kids would grow up quicker than I'd ever expect.  Now I wonder, how did we go from this cute, wondering stage to the sullen mood swings that encompass the tween years?  People always tell you "Enjoy it.  They'll grow up in the blink of an eye!"  And I've been very cognizant of that.

I was a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding when Zack was only 4 months old.  During one of the slow songs I suddenly started balling.  My concerned husband looked around, embarrassed for me (because of me), and then asked, "What is wrong???"  I answered, "Zack will be married soon!" to which he laughed and shook his head because I was acting like the crazy, hormonal woman all mothers can instantly become.  And then, as if fate wanted to magically remind me that my child was still a tiny, nursing infant... the spaghetti strap on my dress finally gave in to the overwhelming strain from my engorged breasts - and SNAP!  As the strap whipped backwards, nearly blinding the bride, it was like a metaphor for motherhood.  You are consumed with unbelievable maternal love (or alcohol-rich milk that will need to be pumped and dumped) until the stress becomes too unbearable and you snap unexpectedly and spectacularly.  And it's all in the blink of an eye - unless you're standing too close behind.

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