I have immensely enjoyed reading the posts of all the moms so far – what perceptive, considerate and fun ladies! What has also struck me is that I appear to be the Contributors’ resident “experienced mom” – I’m currently the oldest member of the group, and my children are considerably older than the rest at 12 and 9 years of age. Reading the posts over the last few weeks has made me nostalgic for when my kids were small and I was a rookie mom… and it also made me reflect on some of the days that I am frankly glad are over.
Five things I miss about having little kids:
- Sidewalk chalk. We spent many, many hours in our driveway drawing obstacle courses, playing games and practicing our letters. The bright, vibrant colors on our sidewalk always sang out “Kids live here!” when I saw them and made me instantly happier. We don’t see them nearly as often now, and hardly ever in front of our own house any more.
- Our wagon. One Christmas, Santa brought my children a red plastic Step 2 wagon. It immediately became our family’s third vehicle – we took that thing EVERYWHERE. It accompanied us to pumpkin patches, playgrounds, zoos, Disney World and lots of places in between. Nearly every night after dinner, we strapped in the kids and took a walk around our neighborhood to wind down the day. But after several years, the wheels wore completely flat and the kids literally became too big to sit in it together. I still can’t bring myself to get rid of it though, as it’s such a tangible reminder of a simpler time for our family.
- Sesame Street. I recently saw postings on Facebook that Sesame Street Live! was in Pittsburgh, and I literally teared up at the thought of my kids being enamored with sweet Elmo, silly Cookie Monster, and grouchy Oscar in days long gone. The show’s continued, straightforward message of kindness and caring should serve as a reminder to kids and adults alike.
- Kid artwork. Yes, there was a lot of it, so much so that at times it seemed to be breeding on my kitchen countertops. But there was something so sweet and genuine about an unrecognizable figure that my son had drawn of our cat, or a lopsided craft that my daughter handed to me after camp and said “I made this just for you, Mommy!” Older kids’ art projects are much less frequent and infinitely more complex, so the sheer spontaneity of a little kid’s creativity fades away with time.
- Naptime. A chance to take a break, cool off, recharge, think it over, and do better in the middle of every day. Enough said.
Three things I DON’T miss about having little kids:
- The diaper bag. That thing was fused onto my shoulder for the better part of five years. It was like a Swiss Army knife, only bulkier and much less mysterious. One of my life’s most liberating moments was the first time I went into a store with my kids and only carried my wallet, cellphone and car keys. Freedom, sweet freedom!
- “Toddler food.” Gone are the days of preparing only chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese and plain pasta… and not being able to go anywhere that didn’t serve them. Call it divine intervention or just plain luck, but both of my kids have become hearty and adventurous eaters. We’re having a great time trying new cuisines as a family – my 9 year old son, whose palate favors Asian flavors, recently requested to try out Everyday Noodles in Squirrel Hill as a reward for a good report card. YUM.
- Reading the same book over and over and over and over. I loved The Very Hungry Caterpillar the first thousand times I read it, but after that the suspense was somewhat lacking. After we both read Divergent this winter, my daughter and I mulled over why Tris chose the Dauntless faction, and to which faction each of us would belong. Hearing her insight and opinions on such complex topics gives me a glimpse of the thoughtful woman she is becoming.
To the moms of little kids, savor the moments that you love, but don’t feel guilty about being ready to be done with others. The great thing about motherhood is that there are always more moments of joy on the path ahead.