I swore I would never be her.
You know the one.
The one you haven’t seen, well, ever, as far as you can remember.
She’s the older lady at the family picnic. The smell of her gardenia perfume arrives just before the screech of her voice. “It seems like only yesterday I was changing your diaper! You had the cutest little butt … just like a couple of dinner rolls!” She pinches your cheek with her chubby fingers, completely disregarding that you’re nineteen now and might file assault charges. You try to smile, and hope the smear of macaroni salad she left on your cheek isn’t as noticeable as it feels. She waddles away, but the gardenia stink isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Of course, this was made all the better if your teenage boyfriend du jour was there with you. Better still if she waddles back so she can tell the story about how you got bored once waiting for your mom to show up after a nap and took your poopy diaper off, exposing your cute little dinner-roll butt, and used the diaper’s contents to express yourself artistically on your bedroom wall.
And though, as I have aged, I now see the merit in—and have every intention of—sharing every ridiculous and embarrassing anecdote with my kids future boy and girlfriends, I swore I would never do the, “It seems like only yesterday …” part.
But, holy cow … my kids start school tomorrow as a sophomore, fifth grader, and third grader. And I’ll be damned, but it does seem like only yesterday.
I remember being a sophomore … ohhh, do I remember being a sophomore. And that? Is one scary thought now that Alannah is that age. She is a beautiful girl, inside and out, with a concrete definition of right and wrong. I hope and pray that all we have tried to teach her sticks with her through this time in her life. The next few years is the time when it becomes evident whether or not all those talks took. You know the ones on drugs, drinking, sex, smoking, responsibility, never getting in the car with someone who is drinking, you can talk to me about anything … etc, etc, etc. It is our job now to hold her really, really tight, while letting go a little and to let her know that we all make mistakes at that age, but to pray silently and fervently that none of those mistakes are catastrophic for her.
Fifth grade … the beginning of that inner circle of hell to parents known as adolescence. Zachary is a really good kid, with a heart of gold. But, I have funny feeling his snarky sense of humor (I don’t know where he gets THAT, snort,) is going to get him beat up, or something close to it, sometime in the next three years or so. He has a rock hard exterior and is a big mush underneath it all. It is our job to raise a man, and all that entails. That is not always easy. It is so much more than teaching him to open ladies doors … Thankfully, he seems to know a lot of it by instinct. Adolescence is a horrid time. He would never let you know it, but his heart is easily broken … I hope and pray that his adolescence is kind to him. And to us.
Mandy has been through more by the time she has entered third grade than most people go through in a lifetime. Neurofibromatosis, which means her body doesn’t know not to grow tumors. Eighteen months of chemo to combat one of those tumors in her brain. In some ways, she is incredibly mature and wise beyond her years. In other ways, she is very young and somewhat behind her peers socially. She can talk a nurse through accessing her port in the most grown up of ways. She can explain to a doctor that she can have propofol as an anesthesia, but not any inhalant due to malignant hyperthermia. But, being eight comes a little harder for her sometimes. She is an amazing little spirit, with a mother’s heart, the strength of an army, and a bossy streak. Soon, she will be able to take a break from chemo and her only job will be to be eight, I hope. And our job is to try to re-teach her how to do that.
So, I swore I would never be her … that it-seems-like-only-yesterday lady. And though I won’t say it out loud, as I send them all off into the world tomorrow, I will think, “It seems like only yesterday that you fit in the crook of my arm and puked breast milk on my shirt at least eight times a day. I hope the world is kind to you, my little dinner-roll-butt babies.”
I will only think those things.
I won’t say them out loud.
Because, really? To launch into the whole it-seems-like-only-yesterday speech, I would need macaroni salad. Plus, I don’t waddle and I really don’t like gardenia perfume. But, I will tell every ridiculous and embarrassing anecdote at any and every opportunity. Parenthood does have some privileges after all.