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'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.( if only I could get Max to be in more pictures...)
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