“Hurry up, old timer.”
This was the comment from my 7-year-old as I awkwardly reached across to buckle his seat belt (a task he hasn’t yet mastered while wearing mittens).
“Old timer?!” I sputter, but my indignation is only half-hearted. Truthfully, I am feeling a little old these days.
I’m no longer a “young mom” with “young kids.” My first pregnancy was over a decade ago. I look at myself in past photos, holding the boys as babies, and all I see on my face are optimism and naiveté. When I look in the mirror now, all I see on my face are lines and wrinkles.
The other day at the mall, I saw a stylishly dressed young couple and their adorable toddler. They were toting a diaper bag overflowing with all the typical items – a sippy cup, a bottle, a squeeze pouch of pureed fruit, fabric books, brightly coloured toys, extra clothes, and diaper changing supplies. It reminded me that I don’t have to carry a diaper bag anymore. If we’re out somewhere, my kids can use the restroom and wash their hands on their own.
While grocery shopping, I saw a young, hip-looking mom chatting with her little guy as he sat in the front of the cart. He was chewing the last of his fish-shaped crackers and announcing “all done!” My older son used to say the same thing at age two. Of course, my kids don’t fit in the grocery cart anymore. They now like to push it themselves, usually resulting in a collision with an end-of-the-aisle display.
It’s like the years have flown past without me realizing it. I no longer need board books to teach my oldest his ABCs and 123s. Instead, I’m Googling the meaning of “aggrandizement” – a word on his grade 5 spelling bee list.
I used to carry my youngest up the stairs to bed every night. These days, I can still hoist him up, but just barely. If I want to avoid back spasms, it’s best that I let that tradition go.
I’m not great at letting go.
We’re planning to have a garage sale this spring, and I know I’m going to get nostalgic about saying goodbye to the shape-sorter toy, the sound-effect phone, the lift-the-flap books, and all the rest of it. They’ve been collecting dust in the basement for far too long. I’ve been hanging on to them, just as I’ve been clinging to the notion that they’re still young, and by extension, so am I.
As hard as it is to embrace this new reality, I see that there are perks, too. No more cold, damp change rooms at parent/tot swim class. No more meltdowns during circle-time songs. No more night feedings and the resulting bleary-eyed fatigue the next morning.
We’re at a new age and stage. They can compete in their own sports instead of me participating with them. They can tell me what’s bothering them instead of crying or screaming uncontrollably. They can take their dishes over to the counter instead of flinging unwanted food around (and giving our eating area the appearance of an indoor paintball facility).
While my “new mom” days are behind me, I’m still constantly facing unexpected and challenging parenting situations. I still need to be patient and intuitive. I still need to have faith that it will all work out somehow. I still need to get by on whatever amount of sleep I happen to get. I’d like to think that my experiences in the previous stages have made me better equipped to deal with what might lie ahead.
So, for an old-timer, I think I’m doing pretty well. No need for aggrandizement here. (I really hope that’s the correct usage.)