Motherhood’s Other Seven Year Itch

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I’ve read a few blog posts recently referencing the authors’ startling and unexpected desire to have a second, third or fourth baby once their oldest nears his seventh birthday. Well, this is NOT that type of post. It IS a post about how after more than seven years of continuous stay-at-home motherhood, I’m feeling a bit itchy myself. But not for a new baby, cute (and terrifying) as friends’ new babies always are when I eventually get to meet them. I’m feeling itchy because I’ve seen the promised land with my oldest–a self-assured, whip-smart bundle of sassy pants firecracker girlhood, with whom I can joke, watch “Anne of Green Gables,” have age-appropriately-deep conversations, and still send off to a full day of school each morning. But after we drop her off, it’s just me and my four-year-old son, and together the two of us are still mired in the little kid realm–a realm I’ve been inhabiting for years and years now and which I am increasingly desperate to bid adieu. 

You probably know this realm too. The one of play cafes (lovely as they are and so fortunate are we that they exist in our current age of parenting), irrational demands for ice cream at 7 a.m., the desire to wear the same green dinosaur shirt every single day no matter its state of cleanliness, the too-big-for-a-stroller-but-not-yet-trustworthy-enough-on-a-scooter to actually go for decent walks. Maybe it’s just the cold gray gloom of an Ohio winter getting to me, but after hanging out in the same play cafe I’ve been visiting for nearly seven years this morning, I could not stop thinking about how much I didn’t want to be there. And not because I wished I was out working instead, or not with my son (also an amazing specimen of humanity, who showers me with unsolicited “I love you’s” and hugs and recognizes every piece of classical music he’s ever heard on “Little Einsteins”). But just because, well, I’ve outgrown those types of places, and he nearly has too.

He’s now the “big” kid (and worse, a boy!) who new moms are worriedly eyeing to see if he’s going to knock over their uncoordinated toddler on his way to the slide (he wouldn’t; he’s actually incredibly conscientious). No longer content with parallel play, he’s despondent if he can’t find a kid his age to engage in superhero or monster-vanquishing missions. And frequently, there are no other kids his age at these places because he’s aging out of them, fast. The selfish part of me just wishes he could age out of them a bit quicker. 

That’s horrible. It’s blasphemy. How can I wish that? What if he died? Wouldn’t I curse myself for not cherishing every germ-laden moment spent with him at every indoor playground in Columbus? What about moms struggling with infertility, who would give anything to be back in the little kid realm one more time? Of course I’ve thought of those things. I am nothing if not an over-thinker. And maybe the answer is that I should stop taking him to “fun places” every time he asks. Maybe it’s just the damn winter. Because I tell you what, I love being outside with him. I love taking him to parks and Inniswoods and creeking at Shale Hollow Preserve and farm animal petting at Slate Run. I even love just digging for worms in our front garden beds, where he reverentially plucks each writhing coil from the ground and says “Hi Jim,” before tossing it back into the dirt. It’s not that I’m wishing his little kid magic away, just some of the more mundane, tiresome trappings. 

And that’s ok, right? To recognize it, to name it, that itch. To sit with it. Isn’t that, like mindfulness or something? Or maybe at least Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? All joking aside, this morning’s ugly realization has made me stop to focus on the fact that my littlest kid is getting bigger every day and if I don’t soak it all in in the best, most enjoyable ways, I am going to really miss it once it’s gone. So maybe tomorrow before afternoon preschool, instead of heading out somewhere “fun,” we’ll don our parkas and dig for frozen worms, eat ice cream at a completely inappropriate hour, and blast some Saint-SaĂ«ns and Grieg (two of his favorite composers–it’s like I’m raising little Niles and Frasier Cranes here!). 🙂

So what about you? Do you ever wish the little kid years could fly by?

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Erin
Erin grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and prior to her arrival in Columbus ten years ago, had seen snow only once in her life (when she was five years old). Due to this early lack-of-snow trauma, she has become a compulsive coat and jacket hoarder. Or maybe she's just a real Midwesterner now. Erin has a career past in PR, Marketing and Communications and is currently a stay-at-home mom to a Kindergartner girl and preschooler boy. She has dreams of freelancing now that both kids are out of diapers. She also has dreams of buying a sheep farm in Nova Scotia, but the former is much more likely. Erin's husband is from Derbyshire in England. He has never read Pride and Prejudice, but possibly saw one of the movie versions in school. Erin and her family enjoy not taking long road trips (Driving to Florida? Really?!), entertaining friends at home, and ordering everything through Amazon Prime. As an individual, Erin enjoys walking, listening to WCBE but never pledging (actually she did pledge once and knows she should do it again and promises she will next year), and spending too much time on Facebook. She and her family live in Westerville. You can contact her at [email protected].