Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ivan

I was helping out some other mothers at my kids' school last night and realized during the course of conversation that I had the youngest child. I felt really young myself (in my motherhood) . . . until this morning when Ivan ran into our bedroom first thing to announce today is his birthday.

Which it is. But it's not the birthday that makes me feel I've been doing this for a while; it was part II of his announcement: "I'm 4. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10! I'm almost 10!"

When Simon turned 9, a friend of mine whose youngest is a junior in high school told me, "He's halfway to leaving home." (*severe quick stabs to the heart*) Now that Simon is 12, I suppose he's two thirds of the way toward leaving home. This is a kid who still seeks me out at night to give me a hug before he goes to bed, who still tells me all about his day when he gets home, who laughs at my jokes and even let me put an arm around him last night in public after his basketball team lost its game. I'm not ready to start counting how much time I have left with him here at home; I'm still aching over how much time has passed since he showed up in the first place.

And Ivan? He's already almost 10 in so many ways: attitude, spunk, independence, sass, smarts. I need him to stay 4 for a full 364 days. Then we'll talk about 5 and up. When I groan about my kids getting older, my mother always says, "It's better than the alternative."

Last night, as Ron and I were talking about our youngest turning 4, Ron said, "I love babies." I said, "Yes. And I love sleep and having my body free of clingy nursers." He said, "Yeah. If it weren't for the sleep and nursing issues, I'd want to always have babies here at home." For the record, Ron rarely got up with our kids at night since they nursed, so what he was really saying is that if it weren't for him having to listen to me complain about lack of sleep and lack of body ownership, he'd want to always have babies here at home. In fact, it's completely because of me that we aren't having more children. As much as I love my role as Simon's and Owen's and Emma's and Ivan's mom, I need to have a role as just Bobbie now.

And it's not babies I love; it's my babies. Having 15 more wouldn't mean I would miss Simon at 11, 10, 9, 8, and on down any less. It wouldn't mean I would want to hold on to Ivan at 4 any less. Or to Owen at 9 and Emma at 6.

Years ago, my landlady in Connecticut told me how fortunate my mother was to have 8 children, because, she insisted, if my mom lost one of us, she still had 7 more to fill up the space. My landlady, on the other hand, only had 2 children. So if one died, she only had 1 left. I didn't have any children at the time, but I knew how ridiculous (God bless my landlady, by the way, she was a wonderful woman to us while we were living in her house and still sends birthday cards to my kids and anniversary cards to Ron and me) her statement was. Love doesn't work like that. If it did, perhaps I would have a dozen more children.

So, yeah, I may still have a preschooler at home, but I definitely feel like I've been at this whole motherhood thing for a long time. But it will never be for long enough.


mnmsalyer said...

This one makes me cry, it touches me so deeply and plainly. Thanks for putting into words exactly what I wish I could express. Happy Birthday, my 14-year-old John-Michael who had the nerve to start talking yesterday about how soon he could start driving on roads and what High School classes he's signing up for. When I look at him, I still see the tiny 3-year-old who wore big glasses and jumped up and down at his amoeba soccer game while declaring, "I like COWBOYS!"

Bobbie said...

Thanks for your comment here, Marian. If I weren't naturally (and thankfully) prone to positivity and hope, I'd weep nightly over how quickly my kids are growing and changing. As it is, I still get in a good cry every month or so. I keep a journal for each of the kids, started so they'll have something to read when they're older about what they were like when they were young. But I'm realizing those journals are more for me when I turn back the pages and read some of the sweetest memories of my life.