Missing What I Didn't Know I Had

Manic Mommy laments on her children getting older.

In Her Words

Missing What I Didn’t Know I Had

A mom laments on her children getting older

-Stephanie Elliot, www.manicmommy.blogspot.com

A baby with a sippy cupWhen I was in the trenches with three children ages 4, 2 and a newborn, I felt like I was fighting a daily battle just to stay awake and alert. Adding to that fact, I also had to keep three young children entertained, happy, fed, on a schedule and diapered – it sure did make for long days back then.

“Back then” was just a mere seven years ago, and I have a huge terrifying confession that most moms might not want to hear.

I miss those days like you would not believe.

Days that would start out with Barney, and then the Teletubbies, where that little TV baby sunshine would giggle as it rose from behind the hills, and that stupid vacuum named Noo-Noo would come around and eat up all the Teletubby toast. And that was all before we made it downstairs to start our day.

I miss the days of snuggling in bed, all four of us, sippy cups, baby bottles, blankies and pacifiers all over the place. Those days when it was perfectly OK for my kids to run around in their character underwear all through the house and it didn’t bother anyone. In fact, those days made my life easier – less laundry! I’ve been trying to think of why I am so nostalgic for that time, a time when I was feeling less like a person and more like a machine, just doing what I had to do to get through the days.

Now, these three little children are becoming independent, and maybe that’s what I’m missing. The control I had over them. I knew at all times where they were, what they were doing, who they were with, what they were eating and even when they were pooping. I knew everything, every little nuance about my three babies.

Today, at the ages of 11, 10 and almost 8, I don’t own that control any longer. The 11-year-old wants to go to the park to play tennis with his friends. I have to let him go, don’t I? The 10-year-old is up in her bedroom with her best girlfriend, telling secrets and putting on pretend makeup. The 8-year-old is outside shooting baskets in the driveway.

I’m not necessary in their lives anymore. I’m feeling unnecessary.

OK, that’s drastic. They still come to me when they get injured, or if they want food, and occasionally one will whiz by and bless me with a kiss or a hug I didn’t have to ask for, but it’s not the same.

It’s not as if we’re all in one place together, watching Steve on Blue’s Clues (who hosts that show now anyway?), snacking on Goldfish, singing silly songs all in the safety of my own family room.

Those days are gone. And it kills me that I didn’t grasp onto them harder, that I was so grouchy many of those days; that I was so exhausted doing what I was doing that I didn’t hang on to those moments longer. Because they were awesome moments, seeing my children’s eyes light up at the simplest of discoveries, learning about their siblings, growing in our little world of togetherness.

Today, things are exhausting still, but in a different way. I break up fights, I remind a kid that, “No, you don’t wish your brother was dead,” I drive them to practices and sports and to friends’ homes. It’s a busy life, and everyone told me that it goes by so fast. I made the mistake of ignoring those people, and now it seems like a very vital part of my children’s growth has gone unappreciated, unnoticed.

I didn’t think that baby time and their toddlerhood would go by in light-speed fashion and that I would now be looking eye-to-eye practically with my sprouting almost sixth-grader (I’m 5’9″ and not long for being taller than him). Or that I would be battling my 10-year-old daughter over what foods she should be eating. Or that I would be listening to my 7-year-old son say, “Doesn’t my hair make me look sexy?”

Dear God, can’t you just shrink them up a bit, make them small enough to wear Blue’s Clues underwear again, and let me feed them sippy cups filled with watered-down apple juice, Teddy Grahams and Goldfish just for a little while more?

Because I do miss “back then” like you wouldn’t believe. And although I may not have known it at the time, I think it’s because those were the days I most felt like who I was meant to be: A mommy.

Stephanie Elliot is an associate editor at Betty, and she also answers your parenting questions at Just Another Manic Mommy. Visit her at manicmommy.blogspot.com or stephanieelliot.com.

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0 thoughts on “Missing What I Didn't Know I Had

  1. ww, it’s hard to see them grow up! But while you’re going through those baby/toddler phases it feels like it’ll never end and you can’t wait for them to be a little more self sufficient.

  2. This is so cute! But believe me, in a few years when those kids are hormonal teenagers, you are going to wish for the days when they were only playing tennis and telling secrets!

  3. Are you saying that as my three get older, I’m going to have MORE laundry?? ACK! :)

    Yes, I hear what you’re saying here, even though there are moments that I long for the more independent days to come… when “MOMMY!” won’t be yelled by 1, 2, or 3 children at the same time needing me for every. single. thing.

    I’ll try just a bit harder to treasure these moments– thanks for the reminder!

  4. All too true! I know this in my head everyday and yet it is still so hard to treasure poop and messes. Thank goodness for those tender moments we get every so often that remind us there is nowhere else we would rather be. A very good and sweet reminder.

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