I think we’ve established that a large part of my midlife crisis is because my kids are growing up. Yes, I want them to...but no, not really. As I stew in the sadness of them exiting childhood, it’s occurred to me that there are some things I will really miss.
1. The lack of knuckles. Take a look at a kid kindergarten-age or younger – they don’t have knuckles. They have dimples where their knuckles go. It’s one of my favorite things to see on Jack, and then I look at Caroline’s bony hands and get sad.
2. Buying Goldfish. Seriously, I stopped buying Cheerios a few years ago and it nearly broke my heart. But nothing says, “I have little ones!” quite like that huge carton of Goldfish in your shopping cart. Or the ones that are crushed in the seats of your car. (The Goldfish, that is. Not the kids.)
3. They don’t try to be cool. I mean it. Jack dances his little heart out and doesn't think he looks like a dork. (Editorial comment: oh, you should see that kid dance. It's a cross between an epileptic seizure and a break dance.) He plays with all the little girls in his class and doesn’t worry anyone is going to tease him. Caroline tells Jack she loves him, even in front of her friends, and she refuses to believe anyone would be purposely mean or tell a lie. They do things that are so funny, like read with a lot of expression just as they’re taught, or make up songs and sing at the top of their lungs, and you just know they’re going to realize they sound silly one day and that will be it.
4. Innocent tears. And by this I mean the opposite of manipulative tears, or moody tears, or frustrated tears. I mean little-kid tears: because their scoop of ice cream dropped on the sidewalk, or they fell off a bike and skinned a knee, or because Daddy’s going on a business trip.
5. Naps. I miss the scheduled ones, of course, but now there’s the occasional narcolepsy coming home from the pool, or on the couch on a Saturday afternoon, and I love it.
6. Thumbs and other comforts. When Caroline was little, she sucked on the ear of a little lamb named Lulu. Lulu is now buried in her closet, but Jack has his thumb, and he is 110% little boy when he’s holding his favorite stuffed animal and sucking his thumb.
7. Nightmares and thunderstorms. Both send one kid or the other flying into our bed in the middle of the night, and there’s nothing like wrapping a trembling kid in your arms and feeling their whole body relax because they know they’re safe and protected.
8. Walking home from school, and the nonstop chatter I hear as we do. They compete to tell me about their days. They talk over each other and interrupt each other and I learn all the highlights in ten minutes. Someday they won’t let me walk them home, and someday they won’t even answer me when I ask about their day.
9. The fact that they are thrilled if I’m a room parent or teaching CCD or coaching something or going on a field trip. Knowing that they love having me in their lives makes me happy.
10. Cartoons. I miss Higglytown Heroes, Blues Clues, Dora and Diego, Curious George and Oswald more than I ever thought I would. Jack, on his own, will get sucked into the old shows, but Caroline’s cartoons are the Phineas and Ferb/Spongebob variety. I’ll never get nostalgic about Spongebob.
The list could go on and on and on. Buying presents for birthday parties. “I love you” notes in their lunchboxes. The ice cream truck. Being called “Mommy.” Holding hands as we cross parking lots. I’ll miss it all so much.
And yes, one could suggest I try medicating myself. But I don't really think it's psychosis: I think it’s just called being a mom.