Yes! No! Yes! Uh... Yes!
This parenting gig. Sheesh.
See the problem is this: I know what I want. I simply keep changing my mind about what it is I need.
I remember nuzzling my oldest daughter's tiny head, and begging her to stay the same size forever. Five minutes ago, I rolled my eyes up into my skull and demanded that she grow up and lay off with the whining.
Wiping my son's chin after a messy meal of pureed sweet potato, I looked forward to the days where he could feed himself. I didn't anticipate (in fact, I think I openly mocked the parenting gods and am now being smited) that self-feeding would lead to almost no food consumption by my picky eater.
The push to potty train. The realization that young children in big girl panties require 9000 stops at bathrooms, and no trip to the grocery store will ever occur again without abandoning a half-full cart and shlepping three squirrelly children into the restroom, where one will have to produce not only pee, but an epic poop, one will lay on the floor in his/her new outfit that Grandma bought somewhere expensive and become one with the grout, maybe treating a neighboring stall occupant to a good ogling, and one will discover the echo-y goodness that is an empty bathroom, and celebrate this newfound knowledge with shrieks that loosen asbestos from the stained ceiling tiles.
The momentary celebration that takes place when a kid shows a solid command of the English language. The horror that dawns when that same kid doesn't stop with the endless talking, most of which centers around what you should be doing for them, NOW, RIGHT NOW!
The pride in those first independent steps. The heartbreak when they run straight into class without a backwards glance.
The concealed delight when a kid utters something cheeky. The embarrassment when you realize they got the cheeky behavior from you, and Grandma/Teacher/Perfect Neighbor knows it, too.
The desire to have a television-free home. The desire to have a moment of peace to drink a cup of coffee without being strafed by questions and demands.
The guilt that you are not doing enough for them. The guilt that you are doing too much for them.
Enrichment activities! Time to just be a kid!
See, the thing is, I know parents who seem to balance all this stuff. They are clear on what they want. Me? I'm all over the road.
I want happy, bright, robust, and inquisitive children and yes, a little bit cheeky is expected. I also want kind, sensitive, polite and orderly children. Hah! Hahahahaha! Has anyone met their mother? I mean, we're giving that whole nature vs. nurture thing a workout over here.
I am entranced by them, at once so familiar and so foreign. I want to freeze them and learn to love all their current quirks, before they rush on and develop new ones. Some of the tough stages feel like they last forever, but then you blink, and it's been a year since you've sliced the skin off an apple, or carried an extra pair of underpants and jeans in every purse. You wake up one day and discover that funny little baby-name your daughter calls her umbrella has been replaced by the real word.
Come back and let me look at you once again. Give me a kiss!