Monday, June 6, 2011

June 6, 2011 ~ Day 178
Rites of Passage

I just did something fabulous that I haven't done in literally years. For two full hours, with no interruptions, I talked on the phone to one of my best friends, a cherished and amazing person that has been my best friend for decades.

Did you hear that?

I, a 35 year old mother with THREE (count them, 1-2-3!) small children who typically hang off of my legs, scream at me and sing at the top of their lungs when I try to use the telephone... I Talked On The Phone For TWO HOURS.

(Is there a chorus of angels or a Gospel choir somewhere in the background singing Allelujah? There should be!)

This kind of conversation, something I once took for granted as par for the course, ho-hum, just another day in the life of a single girl... it has taken on a totally different meaning after six years of parenthood. I feel so much younger just for having been able to participate in such a chat.

In all of that time, no-one interrupted me. Nobody needed to use the potty. Nobody hit their brother, nobody cried, nobody drew on the wall in marker or crayon. Nobody broke anything, took food out of the refrigerator while I wasn't looking, crashed their bike, needed help with their homework. It was just me, talking to my friend in the same way that we might have done at the age of twelve or fifteen.

Readers may wonder how such a miracle took place. It's simple: With two sons at school and a toddler napping, I actually had a whole block of downtime free to use in any way I pleased. The more I think about it then - this two hour conversation was almost a parenting rite of passage!!!

Am I actually reaching a stage with my kids where I too get to have a life again? Where they are consumed with classes, their own friends, their own activities... and I get to be just Me for a few hours here and there?

I love it!

My youngest child will turn two years old this week, a momentous and beautiful occasion that I cannot wait to celebrate with her. When we've asked her what she wants to do for her birthday, she responds: "I go my Mima's House, I play wif doggie" - which means to go visit my mother.

It makes me so happy that even my "baby" can now articulate her own desires and needs using words instead of cries. She is a fully fledged human child with a vibrant, strong personality of her own - no longer dependent upon me for everything but actually fiercely independent.

That by itself is a major rite of passage. My youngest child, the last infant who will ever come forth from my body, has passed through babyhood and entered the colorful, dynamic, LOUD and messy world of a spunky little girl. She is turning TWO and boy howdy, this girl will be TWO with a vengeance. World, watch out!

I'm laughing about this... about her fierce desire to BE.
I love it, I love it! I love her.

I know that some women weep tragically when their youngest children grow, when they at last enter kindergarten and the "baby stage" is over forever. They are devastated by the ending of a precious era.

I love those women for their beautiful motherly hearts, and for how devoted they are to their sweet babies. The world is a better place for mothers such as this.

I am, however, not one of those mothers.

I was excited to get my sons' hair cut for the first time. I couldn't wait for them to start preschool and develop social skills. I loved it when they began to want to do things for themselves - important things, like wiping their own bottoms and dressing. I jumped for joy when they learned how to ride their bicycles WITH training wheels... and whooped and hollered with happiness (along with my husband) when they could finally ride with their training wheels OFF.

I love love love the fact that my eldest son can read now, do math, tell time, and even help out with basic chores around the house. Whenever he asks me if he *can* make the beds (because he enjoys doing it) I twinkle a little bit with joy and a sense of impending freedom. My work at home is about to become so much more manageable because I have an eager helper who longs to lighten my load.

Our eldest child is most anxious to grow up, and while we always encourage him to luxuriate in the experience of childhood and enjoy being young while he can - I am just as excited as he is for him to gain more experience and maturity so we can really go DO things together... like travel, play sports, share common hobbies and interests. Our conversations grow more interesting by the day!

I guess what I'm realizing is that I adore these three little people for being who they are... for their totally unique identities and personalities. What makes them special to me, the part that really captures my heart, is not their fragility and helplessness as small beings dependent upon me to nurture them ~ but rather, I'm wowed by their infinite potential.

Our children are each so fun, smart, unique, creative and totally different from each other. They blow my mind and knock my socks off each new day with all that they are busily becoming, and I love to see the look of pride and joy on their little faces as they recognize that they are developing more and more autonomy.

Today my (nearly) four year old son came into the kitchen where I stood and calmly announced,

"Mommy, there is a spider on my bicycle. It looks like a widow spider."

"Oh, really?"

Together we walked outside. "You'd better put shoes on if you want to ride your bike, buddy."

He showed me exactly where he'd seen the spider and sure enough, it was a small brown widow with the typical body shape and speckled back.

While I went to grab a screwdriver to kill it, he returned to our house to get himself a pair of shoes. The entire maneuver took about two minutes and nothing could have been calmer. Neither one of us were even remotely agitated.

When the spider was dead, I brushed out its web and he returned to riding up and down our driveway.

When I look back upon all of the trouble we have had with widow spiders at three different houses over the course of four years, I feel that this interaction was yet another rite of passage. My sons are now actually old enough to identify "bad" spiders, mature enough to alert me to the presence of such spiders, and calm enough to avoid them until an adult has taken care of the problem.

Which in turn means that I myself am no longer terrified of potential harm widow spiders may do to my children... at least, not to the two eldest kids. We've passed over the time of heightened anxiety and now we simply live with the reality of our ever-present spider companions.

Someone told me recently about motherhood that the days feel long but the years fly by more quickly than you can imagine. I'm discovering how true this is... and how lovely.

I'm so grateful for (almost!) every new milestone and transition we pass through together. My children are quickly becoming some of the most wonderful and entertaining people I've been lucky enough to meet... joys I can now chat about over the telephone long distance with my best friend, uninterrupted.


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