I’m struggling a bit with my children growing up. It’s a bit like watching Russian nesting dolls coming together from smallest to largest and not wanting to let go of the littler dolls as they’re enclosed in the larger and larger pieces. Amidst all the current angst over tantrums and sister-brother rage, sharing and a bath time that’s become more of a wartime featuring bubbles, I’m finding that I’m prematurely mourning the passage of even this phase.
The days are long but the years are short. This phrase runs through my mind more and more lately. Mostly because, as my children roll through their fourth and sixth years, I’m learning that each year, each phase, brings a new little person. So there’s a welcoming of the new; but there’s also a saying goodbye to the person no longer there.
It’s bittersweet, isn’t it, the new surprises a growing child brings. Because with each new surprise is something let go: The way my son at 2 pointed every evening to the setting sun and declared, with some suspicion and surprise, “dark outside!”; or the way my daughter pronounces her “r” sounds.
“Mommy! I’m going to stand next to the cow!”
“The cow, Mommy! The cow!”
“Honey? We don’t have a cow?”
“No! Mommy! I said! The COW!”
“Oh! The big thing with four wheels and an engine that goes?”
“Yes, Mommy! The cow!”
And yes, I think I’ll even miss all this recent talk of butts. And poop. And poopie butts, ad infinitum. I look back at pictures and think, where did that little person go? That way of talking, that little quirk, those cheeks. Each year ushers in a new personality slowly, almost imperceptibly, growing over and through the old personality, until this new child stands in front of me with a different way of speaking, new jokes, a slightly changed face, some new friends, and a new set of likes and dislikes for me to learn all over again.
There’s joy in the change and celebration of the growth. But there’s also sadness at the loss and the knowledge that my 3-year-old daughter won’t ever be here again in quite the same way, snuffling and snuggling almost on top of me in the night like a little baby bear searching for warmth. It’s bittersweet.
So I’m struggling a bit with this children-growing-up thing. I’m guessing that’s the lot of motherhood. We cheer with joy at the same time our hearts are breaking. It’s a good thing there’s so much love to cushion it all.