Monday, August 10, 2009


Our neighbors just had a baby. I can hear him downstairs crying like a cat mews - that frantic, breathless song. It brings me back to almost four years ago when Froggy chirped and mewed, cooed and gurgled, clucked and purred. Oh how I miss those baby sounds.

Froggy was a good baby, only crying for the usual infant complaints - wet, hungry, need mama. I could calm her in an instant, a nurse, a pat, just knowing I was there. Like a magic wand, poof- all was right in her world. The crying would stop and never lasted long.

She's always been her mama's girl. We have been each other's world for four years in a way that no one else has. Without pre-school or big playdates, she's been my cooking partner, my cleaning pal, my grocery shoppin' buddy, the Lavern to my Shirley.

A couple days ago my good friend Meeps had a small gathering at her home. While the adults dined and drank, seven kiddos yielded swords in pirate fights, held one another captive, jumped on the bed, played in the dirt, roasted marshmallows in a fiery pit, played dolls and trucks, swung and giggled, and screamed in the delightful ecstasy of childhood.

This was the first time Froggy truly left my side, never checking in or glancing to see if Mommy was there. At one point when the bigger kids were in the front yard, I ran into the house to make sure she hadn't wandered into the street. She was in the hallway watching someone do something absolutely hysterical. It was obvious when I peered around the corner that I had suddenly become an intruder. This baby who nursed all day, who walked through the house attached to my leg, who slept on me, rode my back when scrubbing the floors, this child who wouldn't dream of letting me shower or use the bathroom alone said upon spying me, "Go away Mommy. We're having fun." And boy did she mean it with a curled brow and hands on her hip. I looked at the other kids like, "Really, I should go?" And they gave me the pathetic gaze that children give all superfluous parents. It's the "don't let the door hit you in the ass" look.

As I left the hall, a tiny thrill rose up in me. She was a big kid. She had successfully made the leap from baby to child. I'd done my job, giving her the confidence to join the kiddo pack, to have a good time without me. I was so happy that she wasn't the outcast, the wallflower, the baby, the ignored. This child who had never been in a mommy-and-me class, or preschool, had graduated from one-on-one, to "the clan". Wow.

As I joined the adults, my joy began to fizzle and I reached for another glass of wine. My baby, my baby, my baby who came out of me, my baby who I could magically calm with one hand on her belly told me flatly to "get out." It was a strange and sober giddiness. I giggled and had tears well up at the same time. And I realized that being a mother is having the sensation of being invited and rejected simultaneously. It's the person you love more than any other saying "I need get lost."

What a bizarre and rapid progression we experience as mothers. First they are in our bodies, living only because we are alive, breathing only because we breathe. And they leave us physically but still cling, still need to be close, still eat and exist because we exist. Their coos become syllables, their cries become harder to calm. The parameter stretches, the magic wand loses power, the wizard behind the apron is suddenly just a crazy and needy broad interrupting a child's joke in a hallway.

I got what I wanted, to sit at a party with the adults and have a real conversation. To have an evening where I wasn't chasing a toddler around making sure all poisons and small objects were out of reach. I'd gotten what I craved for four years, to just chill and have a good time with friends. And yet, like it usually is in life, when you get what you always wanted you miss what it was like before you had it.

Froggy laughed and squealed, she guffawed and teased, cackled and screeched. She settled with grace and joy into the role of big kid. And her mother, sipping Macedonian wine, trying to follow the flow of adult conversation, could only concentrate on the sounds of my girl, my big girl who like the tide and the moon will always dance that desperate dance of reaching out and falling back, pulling close and pushing away. It's only natural.

As I write these last words I hear my newest neighbor reaching out to his mother with a needy cry and I know that while my evening is ending, hers is just beginning. I'm sure if she could trade places with me right now she would, if only to have a good nights rest. But I know the truth. One day she'll look back on this night of sleeplessness and sore nipples and realize that it was, like all things sacred and fleeting - something to be missed.


Angela said...

I love this post! Love, love, love it.

Lucy's mom said...

I love this post. In fact, I'm a little teary-eyed realizing that I too am watching my little baby grow up right before my eyes.

Great job raising an independent little Froggy!

Anonymous said...

submit this post! it's fabulous!


Martin said...

I'm not ashamed to say, you made me teary-eyed!

Martin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mieke said...

I am so glad it was at my home that she joined the marauders and asserted her independence and ran with the pack. She is one of them now.

There will be many more fun nights like that.


Miss Nonni said...

hooray! So happy to hear this story.

"the wizard behind the apron" amazing little trick there. You will go far, my dear. Keep writing!!!

DutchMac said...

If I haven't joined in to say it before, I'll say it now ..... You are an amazing writer! Never lose sight of the fact you have a true gift in the art. Promise us all that, ok?


Infidel Rooster said...

Nice post. Congratulations on doing your parenting job well: raising a child to become an independent person.

Azer's Mom said...

Wow, that was so beautiful!

I too, am experiencing my kids leaving my world, and joining the "outside" world. School starts in less than 10 days. I'm excited and sorrowful at the same time.

Thanks for a great post!

Azer's Mom said...

Wow, that was so beautiful!

I too, am experiencing my kids leaving my world, and joining the "outside" world. School starts in less than 10 days. I'm excited and sorrowful at the same time.

Thanks for a great post!

Anonymous said...

I loved this post. It made me teary eyed and happy all at the same time. You have an amazing way with words.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post...

Last night, I had my teary-eyed moment, realizing that we are so close to losing that miraculous feeling of having a child small enough to curl up in your lap. Tallulah, at 5, no longer fits. She is all elbows and legs. But Viggo, at almost 3, can still curl right up and settle in. My heart will break when he grows past this stage.


Smartix said...

wow! what a beautiful dance from your heart!

Smartix said...

i'm goign to read again!

Anonymous said...

Its wonderful hearing that you were able to enjoy those moments as a mother. I wish all parents would stop to enjoy the moments because they never get the chance to get them back if they are worrying about what they're "missing out on" The best advice I received before becoming a mother was to enjoy every moment. Whether that's feeding the baby, tying a shoe, brushing teeth, soothing a cry or trying to figure out what's wrong. Too soon they grow up and those moments are ALL GONE in a "blink"