Thursday, March 4, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
My four-year-old turned five yesterday. Can I still call him my four-year-old? Can we just say that his age changed, but that's it?
I took it well--eventually. But the night before, I cried. I admit it. I'd been in a crappy mood all evening, and when Ron finally braved the waters to ask me what was wrong, I realized it was preparing myself for March 3. I've had the kindergarten paperwork for weeks and just haven't gotten around to taking it to the school. It's not like I pass it every single day or anything. I've been busy though. Really busy. And in denial.
So I finally took it by yesterday morning with the little guy in tow. I handed it over with only minimal effort on the secretary's part to pry it from my white-knuckled fingers. "Full- or half-day?" she asked. "Full. I think. I marked both and then crossed out the half." I didn't go into my explanation of why we chose full day, of the time I spent researching what would be best for him and his personality. "Full," I repeated. She smiled. "Call me if you change your mind." Then he and I spent the day together: library, Starbucks for chocolate milk and a cinnamon roll, reading and reading to him, lying down with him when he wanted to take a nap because he wasn't feeling well, reading my own book on the sofa opposite him and watching him sleep, taking him to the toy store. We had pizza for dinner at his request and then cupcakes for dessert. A perfect day.
My mother always says, "It's better than the alternative" when I complain about my kids getting older. But she also says, "It goes too fast. I hated sending each and every one of you off to that first day of school. Hated it."
The funny thing about her saying that is that as I was growing up, I never saw my mom as being particularly sentimental. She was busy all the time--busier than I am now with half as many children as she had. I felt loved and safe. But I never felt doted over, nor did I necessarily want to feel that way. That's what my Grandma Effie was for, and my sister who's fifteen years older than I am. But Mom? She was there to make sure I didn't kill my little brother, and to make dinner in the twenty minutes she had after coming home from work, and to take me shopping for clothes at the start of the new year, and to take me to the doctor or to a friend's house. Where is there time for sentimentality in any of that?
The thing about being a mom is that it's incredibly busy. Even when you cut life back to its basics it's busy. And it feels even busier because you want to watch every single minute of it as it happens and then again in slow motion over and over again. And again. So it's always going to go by too quickly, always going to be gone in the blink of an eye because it's impossible to slow time down to the pace that a mother's love finds satisfactory . . . because that pace simply doesn't exist.
I have several Moments in my kids' lives that I've pressed into my brain with a branding iron. And I love them--the moments and my kids--more than is sane some days.
Last night, my thirteen-year-old asked if I was going to miss the four-year-old birthday boy. I said, "Yes, just like I miss the four-year-old you." He didn't know what to do with that. Too sentimental a statement coming from a mom still busy being a mom.
But when he's forty years old and is watching his four-year-old blowing out his fifth birthday candle, he'll know what those branding Moments are like. And maybe he'll remember that time his mom got all sentimental on him. I will.
Happy Birthday, my forever four-year-old, no matter how old you insist on believing you are.