As our kids get older, we all say things like “You’re growing up so fast,” or “You’re getting so big.” I myself have said these very things to both my kids in the last few months. Sometimes they seem like clichés, over used phrases meant to praise our kids. But really, physically, emotionally, and mentally, they are so true. The Girl has a pair of pants that used to fit her, but are suddenly capris. The Boy can sing most of “Jesus Loves Me,” as long as you can keep him calm, and he doesn’t turn into his rabid, weird self. My baby boy is no longer a baby, but a crazy, loud, energetic toddler. My chubby cheeked, big-eyed girl is no longer a toddler, but a slim, to-smart-for-her-own-good preschooler. The days go so fast, even when they seem so slow. But anyway, all this melancholy wasn’t the point of this post. I’ve gotten all swept away in the nostalgia and sadness that is motherhood. Here’s the point:
I realized something tonight, as The Girl came out of her dark room, “needing to pee” (even though she had gone right before bed, a half hour before). My children are really very short. I know this seems to be one of those “Well, duh!” statements, but it’s really meant in a profound way. I was irritated with her, because I don’t think she really peed at all, or that she really needed to go in the first place. I ordered her back to bed, and as I was walking behind her out of the bathroom, I realized how short she is. (Speaking of peeing, it’s now 1:00 am, and The Girl just stumbled in here bleary-eyed and half awake, needing to go. But she really had to go this time.) And in that instant, in realizing that she was short physically, I also realized that she is “short” emotionally, and behaviorally. I don’t mean to say that she is behind or that she has problems. Just that she is four years old, and The Boy is two, and sometimes I forget that.
The Girl, in my opinion, has always been a bit ahead of the curve. She hit all the milestones just slightly ahead of schedule. She walked at 11 months, she started talking around 15. She has always been so intelligent that I guess I’ve begun to think of her as being older than she is. Even in all the times I’ve reminded The Hubster “She’s only four!” I guess I too have been guilty of forgetting her physical age. As I walked behind her to her room, to lay her back down in bed, my anger dissipated. How could I be mad at someone so small for something so…small?
Sometimes I’m disappointed in myself, for how upset I get at the kids for such insignificant things. The Girl will ask me for chocolate milk when I’m in the middle of making dinner. I get so irritated with her, even though she hasn’t done anything wrong. She isn’t throwing a fit, or demanding that I get it for her NOW. She has simply made a request for something that she can’t get for herself. Most of the time, when I change The Boy’s diaper, before he can lay down, he has to hug me. Why should this frustrate me? My wonderful, loving son is only trying to show affection to me. And I’m annoyed because he’s taking up my time. Time that I could be doing what? Surfing the internet, watching TV, reading my book? How could any of these things be more important than getting a hug from my baby? Why am I letting myself miss these opportunities? Opportunities to make memories with my kids, build up their self-esteem, or show them that I care? I always said, growing up, that I wanted to be a mother. Why am I not taking this chance that God has given me to BE a mother? To BE involved, to BE loving, to BE there for my kids. How have I let everything else become more important to me than my own flesh and blood?
Whew. Okay. Guess it’s back to the melancholy, isn’t it? The whole point of this thing was that my kids are short, and I need to start treating them like they are. But then the Guilt Monster came in and took over. Well, I should go to bed now. Its 1:30 and I’m afraid the battery on my new laptop is going to give out soon. Oh yeah, did I mention I’m sitting in bed, typing this on my new computer I bought from my bestest friend? Sweet. Good thing The Hubster is hunting for the week, or I would still be exiled to the freezing dining room.
***EDITED TO ADD: This morning, at 6:30, when both of my children are already awake (one having been up for at least an hour already), and after getting five hours sleep, doesn’t seem like such a good time to test my “be nice to short people” theory. But I will try.***