|Photo by Caroline|
Today I bought my ten-year-old daughter shoes in the same size that I wear.
A few weeks ago I bought myself a snuggly soft sweatshirt that I LOVED and planned to wear day and night until the wonderful garment fell apart at the seams. Then I washed it and the rotten thing shrank a size and a half. So my daughter—the one who now wears the same size shoe I do—is the proud new owner of my formerly almost all-time favorite sweatshirt.
These things perturb me for several reasons.
First, and most obvious, such events point to the fact that my children are aging. And if they are aging, so am I.
That’s not really news. I don’t live in Neverland, and I recognize that every year the candles on my birthday cake get harder to blow out and closer to precipitating a 911 call if a neighbor glances in the window and mistakes my party for a raging indoor bonfire.
But when the kids were babies, I could imagine people assumed me to be eighteen or twenty or twenty-five. When you’re walking down the street with a gaggle of pre-teens, however, nobody supposes you were a child bride. The youngest I can probably get away with now is mid-thirties.
Hey—a thirty-five-year-old can have some gray hair. And crow’s feet. And instantly sprout five inches around the hips when she pops a French fry in her mouth. Sure she can.
Anyway, I can also no longer say I am the mother of small children. The boy is my height and growing past me like a teenage mutant ninja sunflower on an IV cocktail of Human Growth Hormone and Monsanto’s All-New Super-Whamodyne Radioactive Fertilizer Formula 13. I am no longer the only female in the house who owns a pair of breasts. And recent topics of conversation in our home have included menstruation, body hair, and why pornography is a really bad thing for you and your future and your sexual health and everybody else and their future and their sexual health, no matter what Hollywood and Victoria’s Secret and Dr. Ruth Oppenheimer have to say on the subject.
I miss Dr. Seuss so very much.
Everything is so high-stakes now that they’re bigger. I remember losing sleep and possibly a friend or two over philosophical debates about attachment parenting vs. On Becoming Babywise. But you know what? It’s pretty impossible to tell which seventh-graders got put to bed in cribs and which ones slept between their parents when they were infants.
Nowadays, instead of “Do you want to wear the blue dress or the red pants?” the questions in our lives comprise things like:
Do you want to take your elective in violin or robotics?
What code word can we use when you need a parent to rescue you from a situation you don’t want to be in but you need to not look like a geek or a square or a narc or whatever pejorative term is used today to put down kids who know better than to do really stupid things?
How do I explain why Jessica’s parents live in different cities, or why Heather has two mommies, or why I will never, ever allow you to go over to Billy’s house though he’s always welcome at ours?
I’ve already had to instruct my daughter that if a boy says he’ll DIE if you don’t kiss him, you are obligated to do nothing to save that boy, except maybe ask if he knows Jesus before he cashes in his chips.
I’m not ready for this. I’m not up to this. I’m not even sure my own inner child ever fully grew up.
And yet they’re starting to be able to wear my clothes.
It’s said that to really understand someone you must walk a mile in their shoes.
I don’t want my kids to walk anywhere in my shoes. In addition to shredding the crap out of my footwear, they may find out that I don’t really know as much as I pretend to. And that when I say, “I don’t know,” I really don’t know; I’m not just trying to goad them through their own logic-finding process by feigning ignorance.
Well, maybe sometimes I do that.
I want them to still want to be tucked in. But only the littlest one still does. And I’m afraid I can count the evenings left for those sweet moments without getting far into the triple digits.
I want them to still think I’m brilliant. But I’ve already been told that I don’t know anything about it because things today are entirely different than when I was a kid.
I want them to still need me. But Hubby and I have been working hard for over a decade to teach them how to be independent and make wise decisions and live upright and unimpeachable lives.
I know, I know. It’s just a pair of shoes.
It’s just a pair of shoes.