Does this happen to you? Every once in a while you find yourself performing some task--writing a mortgage check, researching health insurance options, scrubbing a toilet--and you're smacked with the notion that, damn, you're really and truly a grown-up now. Juvenile sense of humor and penchant for oversized lollipops aside, you're an actual, bonafide adult, and mortgages, insurance, and toilets are your business whether you like it or not. In earlier days I used to get this thrill while folding someone else's laundry ("I'm playing house with a BOY!") and in even earlier days all it took was a few moments of reflection while filling up my car's gas tank and then deciding I should probably also squeegee the windshield because that would be the safe and responsible thing to do. One day you're just yourself and then *poof* the next thing you know you've turned into your father, amiright?
This morning such a feeling came over me as I caught myself writing Wombat's name into his daycare sunhat with a Sharpie. When did this happen? How did I get here? Who is this kid and am I really his mother? I didn't take any training courses in parenthood so how in the world could I be qualified? (Thank heavens that, lack of formal direction aside, I at least had the smarts to give my son a short name. Anything longer and I would have cramped up halfway through labelling his personal effects, not to mention that I don't think I could have fit "Aloysius" or "Sebastian" on the tongue of his teeny-tiny tennis shoes.)
Last night in preparation for Daycare, Day 1, Simon and I were filling out an official form required by the State of California's Department of Social Services' Health and Human Services Agency of Departmental Agency Services that asks for things like "emergency contact" and "known allergies" but also required me to divulge our family's chosen vocabulary words for "bowel movement" and "urination." After having a hearty giggle (perhaps we're not so grown up after all?) we were both at once relieved and regretful that we hadn't been using anything more creative than "poo" and "pee" (and "poops" and "peeps"). And then we heaved a hearty sighed because, boy, we've gone soft if that's the best we could do. I guess it takes wake-up calls like these to spur us on to better things in the future. (@twojams and I were recently discussing what a great term "special purpose" is for man-junk, for instance.)
In all honesty, though, we're well aware that once we had a kid life really isn't about us and our twisted amusement anymore, and we've accepted that a big part of our job as parents is to prepare Wombat for the world outside the comfort zone of our inside jokes. I actually felt kind of bad, for instance, that the extra clothes I sent to daycare with him (for "accidents" of the "bowel movement" and "urination" type) were the reject hand-me-downs that we only ever put on for a laugh--among them some baby blue elastic-waist herringbone pants with giant pockets that make them look like the bottom half of a miniature leisure suit. I didn't want to send him with any of his cool clothes or nice clothes, and yet I wrestled with sending the ugly clothes because how humiliating will it be to not only have an accident that requires a wardrobe change but then be forced to spend the rest of the day looking like an inmate from a Romanian orphanage circa 1962? This coming from the woman who puts her manchild in a frilly pink dress.
I know intellectually that this sort of thing doesn't really matter, especially to a toddler, and especially to a toddler surrounded by other toddlers, but my excuse is that in extraordinary circumstances I tend to go a little overboard with the worrying (and it's my right as a mother to do so, dammit!). Some people are optimists, some people are pessimists, and some people are like me: apocalyptics (or is that apoplectics?). I had a hard time even getting out of the house with Wombat this morning because he wanted me to read him one more book (and then another, and another), and even as I looked at the ticking clock, I couldn't turn my mind from thoughts that I'd regret refusing him that one small request should he, for instance, fall down at daycare and smash his nose bone into his brain and die. I'm not being facetious; I really did think that.
So, yes, I totally cried over the daycare thing, even though I thought I wouldn't. I cried while writing his name in his leisure suit pants, I cried while reading him one more story, and I cried as I kissed him and walked away to his howls of "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" (He has switched from his infantile "Mama" to a real-persony "Mommy," and the difference is minute and yet VAST. Especially when it's being screamed from behind a locked gate as I drive away with an empty carseat in the back and a toy train rattling around under my feet.)
We're all of us growing up a little more today.Previous Next