"Oh honey, one day you will look back, and laugh at this moment, and I promise you will miss it."
(Did that old lady seriously just say that to me?) was the burning thought raging through my mind, at that moment in the grocery store, as my two year old had thrown himself on the ground kicking, and screaming. I'm sure people around me truly believed that I was either (1) trying to kidnap him, or (2) abusing him.
I DID NOT WANT TO HEAR THAT PHRASE FROM ANY WELL-MEANING PERSON! I was mortified that I had no control over this toddler. It wasn't even that big of a deal, but I was determined to win this war! He had already worked his way out of the shopping cart, after I had warned him that he wouldn't get a treat. He had also disappeared from my sight twice in the fifteen minutes since we had arrived. I spent that fifteen minutes chasing him up and down the aisles, with him giggling like we were playing a real game of hide and seek.
Did I mention that I also had a 3 month old baby in a carrier, screaming because he hated being in that thing? Well, he was wailing by the end of the fifteen minutes, and I had managed to only put two things in my cart. Not to say that my cart was not FULL.... It was full of items that my two year old had thrown in. I had cereal that he thought looked cool, and wanted the stupid, little plastic toy that had come with it! Oh, and the candy! Have you ever noticed that the really great candy is placed on the bottom shelves for those little two -year- old eyes to see, and those little two-year-old hands to grab? He managed to grab all of it. The shopping excursion went from bad to horrible in a matter of 15 minutes. That was as long as I could last before the tears started to flow freely down my face.
By the end of that 15 minutes, my toddler had managed to throw himself to the ground, kicking, and screaming. As he did this, he managed to throw in there a few "I HATE YOU MOMMY"s I was mortified! I grabbed my two year old by his arm with one hand, while trying to support my baby's head in the carrier, and I dragged him out of the store, as he remained limp as a noodle the whole way out to the car. I had people staring, and some giggling as they watched me struggle. I left my cart at the back of the store, hoping that no one would notice.
I sobbed all the way home, with two children crying as well. I so vividly remember telling my two year old to go to his room and not come out until I came to get him. I was exhausted! I thought I would never have another child at that moment, and I wrote in my journal that night "I don't think I'm cut out for being a Mom!!!!! If I can't even control my two and a half year old in a grocery store, how the hell am I going to maintain control when he's a teenager?" I obviously changed my mind very quickly, because I went on to have 4 more boys after the many more grocery store excursions with those two.
I am sitting here writing this, and once again SOBBING!! I got that journal out to read over those days, and I am literally doing the ugly cry right now! Not because it brings back the raw emotion of a young mom in turmoil over a disastrous shopping experience, but because it brings back memories that don't seem so long ago, and the reality just slapped me square in the face. In my mind it was yesterday, and the reality is it was almost 27 years ago! Those babies are now Dad's themselves, and the cycle begins again. Time flies by, but yet in that moment I couldn't wait to be out of that phase of my life. I wrote "I can't wait until these boys are old enough to reason with, and I don't spend my days barely showered, no makeup, and crying because I'm exhausted!"
I MISS THOSE DAYS! I don't miss the temper tantrums in the grocery store, or the exhaustion of reasoning with toddlers, but I do miss those days that they needed me. I was their world, and they were mine. I miss tucking them in to bed, and bath time with water all over the floor from splashing around. I miss rocking them to sleep, and the cuddles. I miss kissing their "boo-boo's" when they fell down, and making everything all better. I miss being able to fix all of their problems, and being their security blanket. My youngest is now 11 years old, and I am sad to say that he is almost completely out of the snuggle phase. He does still need me, and occasionally enjoys hanging with me, but he is the caboose, and soon he will join the others in their complete independence.
This parenting journey goes so, so quickly. I know it sounds so cliché, but life really is so short, and I learned a long time ago a few things about living in the present tense, and not spending too much time wishing my life away. I still feel the same way I did at 25 years old. I still have the same hopes, and dreams for my children. I still have the worries, but boy do I miss the worries of childhood, and the biggest worry being that they wouldn't sleep through the night, or what formula to use, or diaper was best. The worries of toddler years are soon replaced with the worries of the teenage years, and the fears of dating, driving, drugs, alcohol, depression, violence, and the list goes on.
Some days I would love to go back to be able to protect every single one of those six boys from everything scary in this world. It was a time that I had control over everything in their lives, and as they grow that control diminishes, as it should though. It is scary to let go. It is heart wrenching to not be able to fix everything for them as they reach adulthood.
Trust me! I can imagine any young, new mom who is reading this is saying to herself "This chick is crazy! 27 years is a lifetime away. I just had this baby," I remember thinking the same way. I remember being annoyed with the lady in the grocery store that frightful day in the grocery store. I remember thinking that I would never grow old. I would not have to worry about bigger issues until I was ancient. Well, here I am "ancient" and still wondering where the time has gone.
THERE IS NO GREATER ACCOMPLISHMENT IN MY LIFE, THAN THE HAPPINESS, AND WELL BEING OF MY CHILDREN. THEY ARE MY DREAMS COME TRUE, MY TRUE DESTINY, AND MY GREATEST JOY! MOTHERHOOD IS NOT FOR THE WEAK AT HEART!
So here is my seasoned mom advice to any new mom:
1. Do not wish away a moment! Even as awful as it may seem, it will pass, and every moment is a teaching moment or a moment of growth.
2. Remember that every phase will pass, and what seems so overwhelming at this moment, will one day seem so trivial, so take a deep breath and calm down!
3. The dishes can wait. The laundry can wait, and the vacuum is not going anywhere. Sit down, take the time to be present! Trust me, I struggle with this one still! It is so easy to put a movie on, or find something to occupy a child while you busily clean, and straighten. I know we have to have some type of organized chaos, but there are times that I realize that I need to just be a mom, and show my boys that I care more about them than I do the laundry. Even now with my youngest being 11, there are times that I notice he just wants my attention. That doesn’t mean I get to read to him anymore, or build a fort, but sitting with him, and showing interest in whatever he is doing makes all the difference in the world.
3. Nurture your marriage! You may miss out on developing that relationship as well if you’re not careful. It is so hard to balance mommy with wife, but once those babies are grown up, and gone, it will be just the two of you and that is the most important relationship in this world! The two of you together need to put one another first. If not, the reason you miss having small children will be because you don’t want to spend time alone with the stranger you’ve neglected while raising children. My husband is my best friend! Doesn’t mean I don’t want to strangle him at times, but I choose him over everything else!
4. Write it down!!! I am so grateful that I have my memories written down! The good and the bad! I read back through these experiences, and like I said, I find myself crying because the memories of each moment are so tender! You will give your children no greater gift than that of the memories of your life with them.
So there you have it! You will miss it! I miss it! But that doesn’t mean that I don’t LOVE this phase of my life, it just means that each phase was so incredible now that I reflect on them, that I wished I would have appreciated the moment I was in! Life is grand! Not always easy, but still grand!!