Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Gemma looking through a book, babbling to herself.
Donovan looking through a book, reciting the words.
Ainsleigh, having trouble sounding out a word, asking me for help. I put down the dish I'm washing and walk over. She's reading The Economist.

I think this was one afternoon where it was abundantly clear exactly what stages in life my kids are. It was like that evolution strip showing ape-cromagnon-man progression (not that I would ever call Gemma an ape. a monkey, maybe). The amusing thing is that none of them REALLY knew what they were doing, from Gemma's "words" to Ainsleigh reading about the world's aging populations. I suppose they're not much different than me, except that I recognize that I don't really know what I'm doing. But I do know that I am, dare I say it, really enjoying this stage in my life. Maybe it's because I'm really enjoying my kids' stages.

A lovely friend (perhaps that is redundant since ALL of my friends are lovely - a prerequisite, naturally) was recently asked me if I was sad Gemma was getting older. I had to pause and think about that before I said, "NO!" Yeah, but the small snuggling cuddliness - aren't you going to miss that, she asked. There's a part of me that will always love that tiny, curled-into-your-shoulder sleep-anywhere ability of a tiny newborn. If you don't pause just a second to breathe in their milky scent and quietly sigh appreciatively at the miracle before you, then you should turn in your ovaries for a refund. But there's also all the feeding and the waking and the holding and and and. They're tiny, but they're a lot of work. And I'm a selfish person - I like some payback. There's minimal, those first few months. Which, I guess, is ok because you're in such a blur you probably wouldn't notice it anyway.

THIS age, however, is my favorite. Well, until they're about 3. This every-day-is-something-new: a new word, a new action, a new discovery, a new movement, a new recognition. Her personality is starting to emerge. It brings greater depth to her standard wonderfulneww and it makes me love her harder. So no, I'm done with the baby stuff. I like the person stuff.

Donovan is turning into a regular (or, as he would say it, wheg-wee-er) boy. He's loud and obnoxious and stinky and sweet and caring and he makes me laugh and pull my hair out in the same breath. He challenges me with his defiance and soothes me by offering to brush my hair. I don't think it will be long before he uses the latter to his advantage. Last night as I checked on him before going to sleep, I stood a minute and just observed. He was sprawled out on his bed, almost perpendicular to the way a normal person would sleep, in just his boxer briefs for the heat of the night (or, rather, the heat a 4-year-old generates when he has been furiously running around an hour before bedtime). I found his face irresistible so I leaned over and kissed it before whispering I loved him, his head faintly twitching. He tries patience I didn't even know I had, and yet at the end of the day (literally) my heart feels like it could explode from loving him so much. You can be stinky and obnoxious and tell dumb nonsense jokes and form cheetah clubs, but I will always come in at night and kiss you and silently love you. Even on days you don't brush my hair.

I think Ainsleigh is growing up (newsflash! I know!). When I look at pictures of her from a couple years ago, or even just last year, I am startled by how different she looks. Sometimes I'm startled by how similar she ACTS ("are you seven or two?" seems to be a recurring question). But then last night as I folded diapers, she came in and asked if she could help me. I showed her how and she joined me. She loves when I ask her to watch Gemma while I take a shower. She thrives under responsibility and her understanding and observation surprises me at times. I am loving dinner time for the conversations that arise. She's about to start second grade and that thrills and terrifies me.

There are certainly days that have me saying, "I'm done. Leave me alone. I'm not a mom right now." But right now, this day, I sit here watching my kids read (or "read") and I think I want to freeze time right now. This is good right now. Nobody get older. Ainsleigh and Donovan get indignant when I tell them that. (Donovan: "But I have to be 16 so I can be duh tah-west!" not sure how 16 plays into that, but I'm not going to challenge his logic) And I suppose there are perks to them getting even older. Not so much for me. Maybe I'll go read that article in The Economist when Ainsleigh is finished.


Alice said...

Last summer when Emma was in town, I found Johnny reading the NYTimes trying to find words that he knew. Classic. Even though I love this baby age, I look forward to the days when Finn is more interactive.