Thursday, September 16, 2004


It seems I split a lot of my parenting time between two opposing schools of thought: wanting to preserve my children exactly as they are now and fervently anticipating the next stage.

Sean is so disarmingly cute and sweet sometimes that I want to bottle his very essence. Like this:

We were at the grocery store a few weeks ago, and Sean asked to hold the list. He held it in both hands, as if holding a book, and gazed at it purposefully. A few moments later, he informed me, "This called 'The List', by Dr. Seuss. The End!"

And this:

A few nights ago, Sean unearthed a copy of Sleeping Beauty that my mother-in-law had given Allison. In the interest of expanding his gender horizons, I read part of the book to Sean about a month ago. Sean settled himself on the couch and began "reading": "This is Sleeping Cutie. She having a party and open her presents".

See? Just too cute for words. It's this ability to melt my heart that I don't want him to outgrow. Even some of the more exasperating elements of his toddler self are kind of endearing:

"What you doing, Mommy?"
"I'm folding laundry."

Two seconds later:
"What you doing, Mommy?"
"I'm folding the laundry, sweetie. See your shorts?"
"Yah, I see dem! Those my shorts!"

Two seconds later:
"What you doing, Mommy?"
"What do you think I'm doing, Sean?"
"You folding laundry!"

Two seconds later:
"What you doing, Mommy?"

Yet sometimes I can't help but eagerly await a time when Sean is older and, say, better able to process his emotional responses or eat something other than oatmeal, noodles, baked potatoes, and yogurt.

This tendency is even more striking with Allison. I admit it---I am tired these days. Allison hasn't slept well for about 2 months, and when she's awake she is such a force of nature that keeping up with her could tax even the most energetic of parents. Which I am not. So during the night, as I'm striding back and forth across her bedroom, cuddling and gently bouncing my distressed baby, I'm thinking, "I HAVE to get some sleep. I can't wait till she is older! GO TO SLEEP!". Or, as she's attempting to scale whatever dangerous mountain is currently in front of her, I think, "For the love of God, would you please just sit quietly for three seconds? I can't wait till you're older!"

Why am I rushing these things? Why can't I just enjoy these moments without always seeking out the future? I know that as each childhood phase passes, something equally challenging takes its place. I know there is no Parenting Nirvana, no point at which it all suddenly becomes trouble-free and easy. I know I will miss beyond my power to express it the joy of witnessing Allison's wobbling, lurching attempts at walking, her squeals of laughter as she eludes me and climbs up the stairs, her crooked smile and ebullient waving. I will miss the bottomless innocence of Sean's interaction with his small world. When I have two surly teenagers who can't bear to hear my voice, let alone listen to what I have to say, I will miss being greeted by "It's Mommy!!! Hi, Mommy. I missed you. I love you so much".

So I guess I'd better hitch myself more securely to the present.