This current stage of parenting seems less fragile. We’ve made a silent step over a menacing crevasse. It wasn’t that we weren’t paying attention. We were. It was blinding, fanatical attention. Every detail in our face like cartoon violence. It was too absurd to ignore. There were years of perpetual pregnancy and sleep deprivation. There were stories that we only felt comfortable telling in the confines of our dark room. Our confessions would come pouring out in guilty, hushed complaints to each other . We were the luckiest of the lucky with four perfectly healthy children, small and beautiful, driving us to the farthest reaches of our abilities and sanity. It was wonderful and tragic. It was beautiful and horrific. We were grateful and ingrates. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
All of the ill-at-ease and fumbling have turned into softer days. The throngs of little people have started to pair off. Two big and two little. Two big and two little. We are over the hump.
I say this not with melancholy, but, with wonder. I did not enjoy every precious moment. Let me be clear, they were not all precious. I can say this definitively. It is no longer my theory that every moment need not be graciously celebrated. You will know the moments that demand celebration. They refuse to be ignored. The other moments are war paint or prison tattoos on your neck. They are about grit and the only beauty to be found in those moments is the deep well of your inner strength. They are not lovely and don’t tell me I will miss them. I do not. I can say this because they are gone.
I miss my high-school metabolism. I miss wearing a size 7 shoe. I miss the expensive, delicious breve latte I would drink on my way to work in my corporate days. I will not miss carrying a screaming newborn in the throes of colic. I will not miss waking up in a pool of my own breast milk. I will not miss projectile vomit or the paralyzing fear I felt as a brand new mother. I remember these things. I am grateful for my stripes, but, I will not miss them. Goodbye.
I will miss the better-than-anything smell of my babies’ newborn heads. I will miss the first 24 hours in the hospital when you stare and they stare and you are struck silent in absolute awe of one another. I will miss the smallness of their bodies in my arms and lap. I will not miss my feelings of inadequacy. I will not miss my jealousy watching the ease of seasoned mothers. I will not miss the lack of sex and the overwhelming fear of my new maternal body. I remember these things. I am grateful, but, I’m ready to turn the page.
Two days a week, I have one child at home. My season of herding sheep has come to a close. I know I should say that I’m heartsick. I know I should tell you to cherish the season. I know I should be full of immaculate 20/20 hindsight, but, I’m happy. I’m celebrating this new moment.
Besides, who am I to tell you what should make your list of misses and not to be missed?
Enjoy your moments, whatever they be, break a champagne bottle against the stern of the rest as they make their voyage out to sea and, join me as I take a deep breath and embrace the words of poet Robert Browning, “The best is yet to be.”