Thursday, August 11, 2016

remind me

My week started off like this:

buddies, awake or asleep
Can I get a collective "Awwww!!!"? Children are so easy to appreciate when they're harmlessly asleep. But it's not always like that.

Yesterday I dropped by a friend's house to pick up a couple items. Although what I needed was in her fridge downstairs, she wasn't there. I mosied upstairs and found her sitting in one of her son's bedrooms. I took a brief mental note of my surroundings. My friend was sitting on the bed, wearing her outdoor gardening clothes. Her red hair, speckled just a scant amount of grey, was pulled back but wisping around her face. She was sitting in a pile of hundreds of old photos, also known as #memoriesarethequickestwaytoderailwhateveryouweredoing. Her second daughter is being married next week, and she was picking out some favorite childhood photos for display.

"If I could freeze a period of time, it would be when the girls were so little," she said. "When we lived in the house in the woods, and were out on the lake every weekend..." She trailed off, then looked up. "The time goes fast."

My friend is the least emotional person I know. I've known her for 18 years and I could count on one hand the number of times I've seen her cry. She didn't even cry when she said this. She was just matter of fact and a dash wistful. But far be it from her to wallow in superfluous sentimentality. So when she said this, I really slowed down to let her words sink in.

I know every young mom has heard "They're only little once!" and "The time goes fast! Treasure every moment!" and if this google search is any indication, they're all tired of hearing it. I must confess, I "get" it, but I don't. The reason the young mothers are drawing the line in the sand of All The Things Not To Say To Me is because they are right in the daily trenches and maybe all they want is a glass of wine or a nap or the luxury of peeing alone. And you can laugh about it and think I am being hyperbolic, but every bit of that is true.

But the reason the old mamas keep saying All The Forbidden Words is because they have more than an uninterrupted trip to the bathroom. They have hindsight. They were there. They were in the trenches. And then life happened and in all the long days and short years, their kids grew up. And maybe they have regret and maybe they have wisdom and maybe all they can do now is offer up some words of advice, ill-timed or not.

So to those seasoned mothers who keep saying apparently all the wrong things:

Please keep saying them to me.

On the days I take someone to the potty for the 35th time in an hour, please remind me that they won't always be so dependent.

On the August afternoons that my two oldest are arguing about who gets to put the star on the Christmas tree four months from now, remind me that their conflicts won't always be so simple to solve.

When we have yet another sleepless night, please remind me that sleep issues are not just an indicator of my obvious parenting failures and that we will get through it.

When I am convinced my child will want to breastfeed until she is 25 years old, please - PLEASE - assure me this isn't true.

When my baby wails until I pick her up, remind me that her needs are simple and look like a cuddle. Remind me that it doesn't actually get much easier than that. Keep reminding me that little needs are simple needs. I will file this one under "Things I Need to Hear, Not Want to Hear," and ask that you preemptively forgive whatever disgusted look I give you.

When my kid cries loudly in Walmart, remind me that we all feel that way while in Walmart; my child just has the sense to vocalize.

When my girls make a giant mess and forget to clean it up before moving on to the next thing and I ask, "Why didn't you clean this up when you were through?" remind me that "I guess we forgot because we're children" is a totally valid, honest answer.

When I think I didn't get much accomplished during the day because LOOK AT THIS MESS and I AM NOT EVEN SURE THESE PEOPLE BRUSHED THEIR TEETH and ALL I DID TODAY WAS HOLD PEOPLE AND WIPE TEARS and EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF EVERY SINGLE THING WE OWN IS DISTRIBUTED INDISCRIMINATELY ON THE FLOOR AND BY THE WAY I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE ARE HAVING FOR SUPPER BURGER KING SOUNDS GOOD MMKAY?, remind me that my children are hearts to nurture and not just projects to manage. And that the condition of relationships always outweigh the condition of the house or the condition of supper.

When  I'm convinced I'm ruining them: remind me that you felt that way, too. And you made it! And your children grew up! And they are functioning, contributing adults in society! And you didn't ruin them! And it will be okaaaaaaay!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When I'm and feel guilty about taking time for myself, remind me that my kids deserve a happy mom.

When my girls muster up the courage to confess something wrong they'd kept secret, remind me to be gentle because cultivating integrity and honesty and trust starts when they're young.

When my teen makes choices that injure relationships, remind me to keep loving. And remind me that everybody gets to make their own choices.

Older mamas, I need you to keep reminding me of what's true, even if your delivery isn't winning gold medals. I need you to not wonder if you're saying the right thing and be willing to risk saying the wrong thing because there might be truth in both. I need you to be in my life, cheering me on, helping me laugh, letting me cry, and reminding me of what's important.

Because when I walk into the bathroom and see this:

partners in crime, awake or asleep

I need you to remind me that they're only little once, and that the time goes fast.

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