Postcards from four years old: how life has changed

Filed under: Toddlers Preschoolers, Preschoolers, Development/Milestones: Babies

I clicked on someone's blog tonight, a mom who lives near me. She was feeling mom-ed out, ready to re-realize herself as not just a mommy blogger. I respect her and love her and even relate to where she is as a mom but: not me.

A few clicks later I found an email from Niki Alvey, my Blogging Baby companion from way back. She pointed me to a comment someone had left saying they missed me! And I just had to write, because, let me tell you: I am all about the mommy blogging. It's appearing all over my brain but not often translating into my fingers. And because I miss y'all too. So tonight begins Postcards from four years old.

Everett's four years old now; he was just turning two when I first started writing for Blogging Baby. I feel like such an "old" mama that, when I visited my friend Shetha in the hospital last weekend, I was almost afraid to walk through the doors of the maternity ward. It was hallowed ground, filled with a mystical sense of birthing power and untrammeled newness that I hadn't felt for, oh, almost 18 months. Maybe that's a short time to you, but let's remember I've only held one job -- in my life -- longer than 16 months. I've now been a mama for longer than I've ever done any one thing. I had to put that in bold because it was just that stunning to me.

Nonetheless I held her tiny, sweet baby, looking so much like Truman when he was a tiny newborn, and declared myself ready to get pregnant again.

I've been mightily tested in my role as mama lately.

My husband and I have (temporarily?) taken in two girls, ages eight and 11. They're, well, difficult. Challenged. Their lives haven't been anything like Everett's, or Truman's, and I'm not entirely sure that either Everett or Truman are ready to deal with these challenges.

But I'm still me and I (a) see the beauty in every situation (which sounds so trite, oh, I'm sorry about that) and (b) always have to write about it. And now I'm seeing through the glass of Life With The Girls that Everett is not nearly so difficult or troubled as I'd feared and Truman is a jewel to be caressed, held up to the light, kept in the safest place and yet worn everywhere. Everett has this special silly drama, this tender forward vision, this amazing ability to describe his inner world in the most charming way ... but Truman, Truman I connect with on the wordless level of true love. Well, it has to be wordless, because Truman only has three words (Haaaa.... for Hi, kiiiiiiiiiii for kitty and AYE! for I want that) to his 18-month-old vocabulary. Which slow verbal development I am so totally dealing with in a non-comparative, non-staying-up-late-nights-and-worrying way. Really.

Having been a mama for more than four years has changed me. I now look at other mamas, the new ones, the ones with hope and first babies whose ages are still expressed in weeks and months with a mixture of awe, pity, condescension, and oh-I-wish-I-could-be-there-again. Remember when you still dreamed of finally having that perfect mix of ironic and artsy onesies? Remember when you wondered what the non-slip stuff on the baby socks was for? Remember when you could leave a roll of toilet paper alone for one f#$%ing second?!? Ok, so Truman's a bit of a madman. The kind of baby for whom "proofing" was truly meant. And no, you can't go back to those times (without actually having a baby again, and for your third baby, the charm of the ironic onesie is largely gone, I'm thinking).

And I'm rambling, and you're asking me, so Sarah, how has life changed? Life is so much more mellow and nuanced. So much more important and so much less so. I know my boys' personalities, now, Everett's the insightful drama queen, the high school quarterback-to-be, Truman's the poet, the mystic, the dancer. (I feel it my duty to mention that I expect them both to be all-state in wrestling and fighting for the most points in their high school track meet.) I feel grounded in that I no longer wonder will they be cute? or will they be different? or will I enjoy the people they become? The answers are yes, oh my yes, a thousand times yes.

And oh, God, how I love them in such different and frightening ways. Oh how I want to go to bed by myself every night (or even, sometimes, just with my husband! shocking), yet every night I long for the snuffling as Truman climbs into bed for his 4 a.m. breastfeeding (ain't gonna wean that one anytime soon), for the cold, sharp-edged feet that Everett slides up under my legs when he thumps into bed, too.

I still define myself by my mama-hood, though, and I will for a long time. I still want to blog about it, write about it, think about it, write poems and take photo after endless photo. I've been a mama for a really, really long time. And that's still who I want to be.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.