Most of you know that my boys are no longer babies. These days, those tentative baby steps toward independance have become giant clumsy strides and the comfort of "someday" has turned into the realization of "all too soon". But despite that, I'm really, for the most part, enjoying the freedom of having semi-independant children.
I don't feel anything except relief when I see a young mother pushing a 400lb. stroller and carrying a diaper bag the size of a small frigidaire. I don't miss planning my life around naptimes. I do not remember those late night feedings with fondess.But I do miss certain things.
There was a time when my boys thought I was the cat's meow. They thought I had all the answers. And not just any answers...the right ones. They thought I could save the world. They thought I was invincible, immortal, omnipotent. I liked being adored. I did not like slipping back into the ill-fitting skin of ordinary. And now, I find, that my children can humble me without the slightest bit of effort or even, sometimes, awareness.
The other day, Drew and I were in the car running an errand. He was fiddling with my iPod to find a song by Chris Daughtry, for whom he has developed quite an affinity. Out of nowhere he asked, "You think he's hot, don't you?"
Why lie? I thought.
"Yep." I said.
"What???" I demanded
"Mom. He is SO out of your league."
I made a strangled sound of outrage. "Dude. That hurts."
"You're a MOM" he said emphatically, "You're not supposed to be hot."
"Hey. I? Am hot. I can get guys."
He snorted again and added an eyeroll to emphasize his point. "Yeah. Guys like DAD".
Gee, that's all right. I didn't need my self-esteem anyway. No really, I was done with it, seeing as how I was apparently rendered asexual by your birth.
Moms of toddlers...cherish their admiration. Because one day, your sweet, adoring child will look at you with embarassment, pity and chagrin. They will push you away, and then return; remorseful, hungering, confused. They will need you, and they will need you to let go. And you will never know at any given moment, which is the right thing to do. Inevitably, you will choose wrong, and find yourself hitting a glowering wall of resentment.
And sometimes, they will say horribly insensitive things without knowing how it twists like a knife in your guts, making you gasp with regret and longing for the person you thought you were; the person who can't exist in the same time and space as mother-you.
Do I really want to go back to the desperate, consuming symbiosis of infancy and toddlerhood? No. I really don't. I just want autonomy to hurt a little less. But I know that it can't and so I arm myself against the emotional arrows so carelessly slung by my children.
Someday, when my sons whisper their secrets to another woman, and walk through life with their hearts clutched tightly in the fist of their own child, perhaps they will see me for the woman I was underneath the motherhood. Mabye they will find a small measure of understanding for the joys and the heartaches of raising them and surrendering myself.
Until then, I exist in a weird sort of sexual limbo. Neither lover nor woman, but only mother. But that's okay. I'd rather be stripped of my sexuality than suffer my children to witness my nakedness, literal and figurative. I'd hate for them to see my funbags and my undercheeks on the cover of every gossip rag when we go to the grocery store. Can you imagine what Pamela Anderson's kids live with?
Then again, I don't suppose they dispute her ability to bag Chris Daughtry.
Oh, the humanity.