After I wrote this yesterday, I started to think about my emphasis on the word baby. I am not one of those women who just likes babies, dislikes children once they are past the stage of needing me. No, I am rather enjoying Z being three. He is hilarious. My 12-year-old is being both typically and expectantly 12. The 9-year-old is the light of my life and can make me smile by just appearing. When I say I want another baby, I do. But I also want another child, toddler, big kid, tween, teen, adult, another person to whom I am beholden to teach and raise and love.
I posted on Facebook today that our dining room table seats six but we will only fill five chairs. I don’t mean to make a parent who has lost a child or a parent who doesn’t want children, or only wanted one, or only wanted another number feel as though I am dissatisfied with my current children, that my desire to have another is in any way comparable to a devastating loss of decision unlike my own. On the contrary, I love my family as it is. I will simply always imagine and deeply desire it to be the way I originally expected it to be.
Ah, expectations. Assholes.
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Today, my 12-year-old called to say she wanted to take a different route home, a different bus, but one that would essentially get her where she needed to go. Initially, I balked. No! Go where you’re expected to be. And just as quickly, I thought, “She’s 12. Let her get lost if need be, but let her be in charge of that experience.” It felt good to just say “OK, pay attention.”
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Today, my 9-year-old is going to show me how she has perfected a back walkover. She expected to be able to do this far better than she can much earlier than she could. I told her expectations are notorious letdowns, but hard work trumps it every time. Last week, she asked if she could try to do it without using the mat, meaning potential head meeting hardwood. I balked. No! You need to protect yourself. And just as quickly, I thought, “Flip on.” It felt good to just say, “OK, be careful.”
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Today, my 3-year-old will want to watch Wreck-It-Ralph again. It’s only been on DVD a few weeks, but, if required, I could probably recite the entire movie already. He is going to ask for popcorn, and a bar, and juice, and an apple, and quite possibly, for a Krabby Patty. He expects these snacks now. Last week he’d had any number of these things and I was cooking dinner and knew he’d likely now not eat it. He asked if he could have grapes. No! Dinner’s almost ready. And then, I gave him a small bowl of grapes (because he danced for me and sang a song about nice mommies who had good days giving boys grapes.)
I am here with them, aware, and interacting, none of them babies.