I said something the other day that I thought I would never say: I am envious of mothers of babies and toddlers.
I never thought I would say those words because those short years of sleepless nights, random acts of crying, chewing on shopping carts, and unpleasant explosions at the most inopportune time seemed like eternities. I used to call my college roommate who was getting multiple degrees while I was having multiple children. “Remember when we thought college was hard? The late nights, the tests? I would give anything for just a day of that, just a little break from the never-ending job that is motherhood.” I specifically remember sitting on our ugly couch one day, watching a daytime television show and eating cold scrambled eggs while my baby lay sleeping across my lap. I could not move, for fear of waking her up. I was completely trapped.
And then, my kids, they grew. They got older and bigger and I didn’t have to worry about hauling around a diaper bag. After awhile, they even started sleeping through the nights in their own beds. For a brief period, I actually started doing things like reading novels and completing sewing projects that I had started, which before then (and since then) was something that I only thought happened in sitcoms where they had a maid and a living room with only three walls.
During these brief moments of parental freedom, I started remembering all of the things that I dreamed about while I was cutting up hotdogs into non-choking sized bites, and with a few spare moments of time, jumped right on them. Volunteer for this? Yes! Can I help with that? Sure! I really, truly have a brain! Part-time job? Of course! I have gobs of free time now! With kids in school and the ability to dress themselves, I am yours, world!
That worked for a small period of time.
Then without realizing it was even happening, our life changed again. Family dinner times that were once stirred quickly with a baby on my hip became few and far between because of this practice or that practice. Activities after school turn my life into a logistics manager and I had to buy an extra large calendar just to fit them all in. Unless we truly have to, we would never deny our kids any opportunity they have. But their lives, our lives have all gotten so busy I find myself not being able to keep up with anything. All the while trying to juggle those hotdog dreams come true.
It’s not something I enjoy, the rat race of parenting these days. I’m sure it’s another phase of life, like college and young parenthood, but that doesn’t make it any easier. With kids ready to wet their toes in adulthood, I find myself wishing I were back in the baby pool, cold scrambled eggs and all.
Originally written 2.28.16