Motherhood is a profession which offers the wildest of the vacillating emotions. Everything from feeling tender and mushy about your wonderful children to staring longingly at the Greyhound bus as it pulls out of your town and wanting desperately to be on it (Jason refers to this as my Greyhound Fantasy and when I've had a really bad day with the kids, all I have to say is "Greyhound" and it's code for the fact that I need some alone time).
On Friday night, I read Goodnight Moon to William at bedtime, pausing for him to find all of the places the mouse hides on each page, and I had the clearest memory of buying this special book for Ava when she was only a few months old, and reading it to her through all of the stages that brought her to being a 7 year old today. I thought about how she rarely holds my hand when we are out in public anymore, and how I take the feeling of William's sturdy, baby-like hand in mine for granted most days.
It's almost over. My days of walking around holding his hand while he smells his bear are drawing to a close, with people smiling fondly at me and at William as they pass. I know for a fact that I haven't fully appreciated this stage. I've let it go, slipping through my fingers, while hoping he would get older and be more independent, so I could have more time for myself. That is happening, right now, and I have celebrated his metamorphosis from toddler to child, but part of that process is saying goodbye to the toddler forever. It was easier when it was Ava, because William was still a baby and all of those stages were ahead of him. Now he's four, and we will never experience these early years again as parents.
All of these warm and fuzzy thoughts came on Friday, and I went to sleep determined to appreciate and enjoy these last two years before he is in school full time. I know now that they will go by in a blip, so fast it will make my head spin. I didn't know that when Ava was four, but I do now. Appreciation and awareness are the keys to holding the memories forever. I don't want to miss it.
Yesterday we had a babysitter for the afternoon, and we went out with friends to see The A-Team (good, campy, ridiculous fun) and out to dinner on the Moxie's patio in the sunshine. We laughed, and told stories, and talked with no interruptions. Escaping for a few hours of fun as an adult is the closest we get to re-living the pure joys of childhood. I really didn't want to come home. I wanted to stay out just a little bit longer, and be just myself, and not be responsible for anyone else or to anyone else.
We came home, hugged the kids, paid the babysitter, and before we could even get them to bed I was grumpy and frustrated, with all of the joys of the afternoon erased in my mood. How could I go from uber-sentimental about William on Friday to rage that I had to come home to my kids on Saturday? It's part of motherhood. We can't sustain the high times any more than we remain in the low points. We get both, sometimes within minutes of each other, and we have to manage the bad in order to enjoy the wonderful things our kids bring to us.