Wednesday, October 28, 2009

unchartered territory

I just came across this picture Elle snapped of me and Lu last summer:

And it made so many things wash into my mind because this was exactly my vision of my future self when I was a little girl. (Well, to be honest, the baby I pictured me holding was a mite smaller than this one, but still...)

I've said this before, but all through my life I had stars in my eyes about being a Mother.

When I was little I didn't dream about being a school teacher or a corporate leader. I didn't want to be a famous actress or a pro at sports.

I wanted to be a Mother.


(My brother sent me this picture the other day...it's me with stars in my eyes
wishing that baby was mine.
I know you're jealous of the buck teeth...and the styling hairdo.)


I envisioned myself with babies. Lots and lots and lots of them. I'd always have one slung up on my hip. I'd always have a pacifier as a ring on my finger for times of trouble. I knew there'd be chaos (coming from a family of nine kids) but I was ready for it. I envisioned myself as with a triumphant look on my face as I held a baby close and had kids strung around me clinging to me with all the love they could muster.

I envisioned what color my kids' carseats would be. I'd try to figure out what I'd carry around in my diaper bag. I would dream about what I would teach them and what books I would read to them as I snuggled them close.

The interesting thing about all my grand visions was this:

They ended after the baby stage.

I never "saw" my future children past toddler-hood. My daydreaming never involved helping kids with homework that I couldn't figure out or having my heart ache because I was worried about their self-esteem or their falling grades. I never pictured them having different opinions or tastes from me or that there would be some things they would worry about that I couldn't magically fix. I never pictured sitting in the car all day driving endless carpools. I never pictured the drama or the joys of having older kids.

Now, much more quickly than I planned, all of my children go out the door to school each morning.

Sure, Lu still gives me a run for my money many days, but she's growing up. I'm in uncharted territory.

It's surreal.

Sometimes in the morning I stop and realize I am all alone in a quiet house. Even though I'm still running from one thing to the next and I cannot believe how fast the time goes, I don't have a baby screaming to be fed or spit-up to be spot cleaned off my shirt. I can pick up my purse and walk out the door without gathering an arsenal of snacks and props to keep kids happy on errands.

And do you want to know something? I think I like this. My "babies" have opinions. I get to listen in to their thoughts in carpools. They have senses of humor sprouting out that I adore. I get to watch them crouch down on the floor and nurture their younger siblings like nobody's business. I can discuss the world with them. We can talk about ideas. I keep falling deeper and deeper in love with their inner beauty that blossoms and blooms more and more every day. I love what they are becoming. I love that I get to be a part of it.

So, even though I will always want another newborn, and I will probably always sprout tears when I think about how my kids are growing up too fast, and even though I know that this stage:

...was (and still is) quite amazing...everything I ever daydreamed up and more, believe it or not I think I'm gonna like the next phase too...even more.

Because so far, though heart-wrenching and emotionally draining at times, it's more rewarding than I ever could have daydreamed up.

I know I'm in for some serious emotional turmoil as we raise these kids to teenager-hood...and sure, a lot of drama. But I can see a glimpse of what it's going to be. And I think I'm gonna like it.(...now if only I could get Max to be in more pictures...)

15 comments:

  1. Ummm...when you get a minute, cause I know you have so many extras, please oh please do a post on photography... mainly exposure... I just think you're brilliant! Don't be modest now...

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  2. Thank you for that sweet post. I only have one little boy now, but I often sit and am sad that he is growing up too fast; and I only think of future children and their "baby stage"(s). Your post made me think past that stage and into future stages (with my current baby and hopefully more to come). And I am excited for it all; thanks for reminding me of that :)

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  3. I have been going through that same stage (with only 2 though!). Next year, my youngest goes off to school. I am excited for the adventures that come with growing up and seeing the kids they are becoming. But, I sure do miss the baby time. sweet.simple.cuddles.I guess that is what my nieces and nephews are for now. Great post!

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  4. I don't want to presume, but I have a feeling we are going through the same "stage"...you put my feelings into words so well. I have a pic too, of me with by baby doll next to me in my bed when I was maybe 3 or 4 or 5...and it reminds me of my real babies next to me. The teenage years are so different...but I like to see the fun in them too...seeing movies together, having long conversations, shopping for clothes...they are still special, just different.

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  5. What's funny about your post is that what you're experiencing is what I dream about all the time. I am a mother with three boys under 6 and another on the way. I constantly feel overwhelmed and I imagine life when they are all more independant. I am excited to go to sports games and have those good talks with my boys. But for now, I am just trying to enjoy them small, but some days its really difficult to do. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being a mother too and I love having babies to snuggle with.

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  6. Shawni - thank you for putting down so beautifully my life in a nutshell. I am farther along in the process than you. I can't believe I have 2 already gone from home - but I still have a 7 year old. It was neat to read in your words exactly what I have felt, and am still feeling. I wish I could write like you!

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  7. I love your "motherhood" posts. There are so many times when something happens in my day and I think of things that you have said on your blog or in your book. I am a better mother because of it. I wrote something the other day and it would mean a lot to me if you read it:

    http://myfrontporchlookingin.blogspot.com/2009/10/life-has-changed.html

    Thanks for that great post!

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  8. Perfect! I was the same way...dreaming and waiting until I could become a mommy. It was a hard road to get here to my 2 sweet children (and hopefully more!), but you are right, you don't see past that baby stage. My oldest just turned 3, and while she is still a "baby", there is a lot of growing up that she is doing and it is all stuff I never thought about! I LOVE it and am cherishing the moments (although I have breakdowns sometimes about how fast the time is going), it is so different than what i go through with my 5 month old every day. You are giving me something to look forward to as my babies grow up! Thank you!

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  9. Such a beautiful post! absolutely beautiful!

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  10. I lurk on your blog and love your insights. Today my sweet heart turned 4. I have 2,4,6,8,10... and I'm not expecting another. It is odd and empty and sad feeling. What a strange paradigm shift. I do love the human beings my little ones are turning into- with senses of humor, wisdom and compassion... but like you said, I didn't dream beyond the early years so this is all new.

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  11. All so very true! I used to wonder what in the world I'd do with a nine year old boy...and when I got one...it was a LOT more fun than I thought it would be! Time is so interesting!

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  12. thank you for your beautiful post and the reminder that I too dreamed of this day when I would be Mommy and that although very trying at times, I'm literally living a dream come true!

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  13. Thank you. All week I have been sad that my babies (1, 3, 5, 8 and done?) are growing too fast and leaving me for their friends and school. What will I do without a baby??? I have wanted to cry about it. But you are right. Each stage is wonderful and magical in it's own way. We just need to embrace each one :).

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  14. Love the picture with you and the girls! You are all gorgeous! I love the ages my kids are right now too! They are fun I agree about listening to their funny conversations in the car...I love being able to go out with them and just talk...I love each of their little personalities. You hit it right on the nose here Shawni. It's a good stage to be in! And how nice is it to walk out that door with just your purse! I love it!

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  15. absolutely. as it has been said already, i never thought beyond the THIS. it literally hit me in the last week or two...and i still have one at home. but all those wise words of others telling me 'it goes so fast' never really sunk into the heart until now.

    yet, we transition.

    blessings!
    karin

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