It’s fine to lie to mothers holding babies. We need the grocery store soothsayers encouraging new moms to “enjoy every minute because it goes by so fast.” Without them, some of us may have fled the country on day 11, leaving behind a baby and a stupid note.
I’m 100% average, and experienced the exact same stuff every other new mother did. That’s why parenthood was not a smooth transition for me. I’m also immature and selfish, which made it a little trickier because they don’t make medicine for that.
“I was built to work and shop. I can’t do this. If you don’t get over here, my head’s going to break open and aliens will take over the bank and eat all the subway sandwiches.” Adjustments were necessary, and slow. In the meantime, hearing those ladies in the produce section tell me “it goes by so fast” helped me believe the diaper avalanche would eventually stop.
Three years later when I heard “it goes by so fast,” my reaction was slightly different. My mind said, “you again, with your face, and your lies. I will never be able to leave the house without an eight-day head start.” But my mouth made a pretty smile and said, “Oh I know. Aren’t they so precious?”
I’m from the south. We’re taught to lie very early. We call it being polite. And then we smile until one of us looks away.
My girl is eight now. No one has said anything to me lately about it going by so fast. I’ve been so busy living the glamorous life of a working single mom, I sort of forgot to remember it goes by quickly.
I was reminded yesterday morning on the drive home from the school. I saw a discarded high chair at the end of a neighbor’s driveway. I don’t think those parents threw in the towel and gave away the baby or anything. I hope not. Maybe I’ll stop by later. I think they’ve just moved on to the next stage in their world as parents. We’ve moved on to the next one, too. No child equipment is necessary to get through the day. No princess plates, step stools or sippy cups. Nothing. The only evidence of offspring in our house is artwork on the kitchen table, and photos on the walls. I’m officially cohabitating with a miniature flat-chested lady-kid.
Here’s the thing: I’ve unceremoniously chucked every outgrown kid item the instant it was deemed no longer necessary. Occasionally it was still warm. True story. That’s why I didn’t notice until yesterday that the car booster seat I donated last month was the very last kid thing to go. I didn’t get all Lifetime TV about it, well maybe a little bit in my mind, but I did want a do-over for that final toss. I would have included a little more fanfare. Maybe worn a boa to Goodwill. Or tap shoes.
I got a little wilty standing there in my garage, but then I remembered: she’s not an asshole teenager yet – hooray! She’s only eight, and I still have time to slow down and enjoy. This is great news because in the slow moments, I remember to ask Anna important questions like “what’s your knee cap thinking about tonight?” Many times that’s when I hear the most critical stuff, like her best friend hurt her feelings at school that day, and her knee cap hopes she can wear jeans tomorrow so she can hide.
Those are some of the best moments for me – the ones when I remember to just be there, and listen, undistracted by laundry, or dishes, or mail, or how unprepared I am for tomorrow’s meeting. Even if I can’t make it okay, I can listen. I can squeeze her, and let her know she’s got someone in her corner at home. Always.
Today I hope someone looks at my girl and reminds me again that “it goes by so fast.”
I’ll reply, “Oh I know. Aren’t they so precious?”
This time I’ll mean it. And I’ll still be smiling after one of us looks away.