My oldest child is about to turn 5-years-old.
But don’t worry. This isn’t going to be “that” article. You know, the one where the parent is shocked, absolutely SHOCKED, to discover their child continues to age according to the rules of linear time.
I have to be honest. I’ve never experienced that phenomenon where I blinked and my baby suddenly wasn’t a baby anymore. The only thing that happens when I blink is my eyeballs get moistened so that I can more clearly see my children standing in front of me loudly demanding a hundred different things.
So no, this birthday is not coming as a surprise to me. My son looks like he’s five. He talks like he’s five. And he acts ALL kinds of five.
“Momma, can I have a cookie for breakfast?”
“Cookies are unhealthy. Now eat this equally unhealthy Pop-Tart slathered in icing and hush.”
“But I want a cookie. Why can’t I have a cookie?”
(repeat for 45 minutes or until I start hurling Pop-Tarts like ninja stars at everyone in the family)
This lack of surprise at the aging process could also be because I am the lucky (or cursed, depending on your view of children) parent who stays at home with my kids. So I get a front row seat to their growth on a daily basis. Both the giant leaps forward (the first day he left the house without his beloved security blanket, Woobie) and the tiny baby steps toward independence (the first day he buttered his own toast with approximately half a tub of butter). In fact, if anything, I am too present for my children considering that at any given moment I can give you detailed descriptions of both of their most recent bowel movements. (Oh, how them babies love showing me their poopies.)
Not that his upcoming birthday is completely free of angst, of course. As it just so happens, his birthday coincides with the fifth anniversary of my becoming a parent. Which leads us to the very puzzling question of: How is it possible I’ve been doing this for five years…and I still know nothing?
I mean, sure, both my kids are still alive. I have at least mastered the bare minimum parental requirements. But motherhood is continually throwing me curveballs and not only do I not know how to hit them, I can’t even find the friggin’ bat because it is likely buried under my kids’ ever-growing militia of stuffed animals.
My daughter’s hair is ALWAYS tangled. Half the time my house is out of soap and band-aids. My son is obsessed with zombies because I gave him a very vivid description one tired night when he asked me what they were. And there is never anything in the house they are willing to eat because they forgot to tell me they now hate all their favorite foods.
Even the positive moments have a caveat. Just the other day my son told me that when he grows up he wants to be strong like his Momma. Aww. Sweet, right? Except then he added “Yeah, and when I’m all grown up like you then I can drink Diet Coke and wine.”
Positive role modeling. Nailed it.
Shouldn’t I be better at this by now?
Take the whole purse thing. I know plenty of those moms who always have whatever you could possibly need inside their purse. And whenever I marvel at the fact that they had an extra set of gloves, cough drops, a healthy snack AND portable Merlot in there, they always respond, “well, I’m a mom.”
Yeah, well, I’m a mom too and yesterday we were outside and my son’s nose started dripping snot and he asked me for a tissue and I had absolutely nothing resembling a tissue on my person and so I shoved my sleeve in his face and said “use this.”
Plus, I NEVER remember to bring my flask to school functions. Like some kind of noob.
Then again, I’m holding out hope that most of us parents are faking it. Right? Guys? None of us know what we are doing? Anyone? No? Hello?
Regardless, on my son’s birthday, when we are busy celebrating his existence, I’m going to take a little moment to also celebrate that despite it all, my children seem happy. And that no matter how many times I mess up, they still somehow love me.
And that, God willing, I will have many, many, many more birthdays to celebrate with them even though I forgot to pick up the stupid cake from the bakery.