Monday, October 19, 2015

Five {5} And Seven {7}

My kids turned five and seven a few months ago.  5 & 7.  We had a party.  It was fun.  They got presents.  That made them happy.  And life went on.

Obviously when kids have birthdays nothing major changes in that instant.  Their growth is gradual so as to be almost imperceptible and all the things you thought were silly when your Grandmother said them suddenly ring true.  "One day you were a tiny babe in arms and all of a sudden you're all grown up - it feels like it happened in the blink of an eye."

And so it does.  I mean, except for the sleepless nights, that still feels like it took fucking years.  But the rest?  It's true, it goes too fast.  Lightspeed.

Five & Seven.  It's not such a big deal for them, they are just getting on with life, learning, growing, playing and all the good things that kids do.  But for me?  For me five and seven is like, "Woah."  As in, "Woah there Nelly, slow these horses down."  And also like, "Woah.  Five and seven.  That's some crazy shit."

For me as a Mum five and seven represents a real time of transition.  I am no longer the parent of 'little kids', out of the newborn phase, through the toddler years and heading into the territory of independent children.

This morning my little girl packed her own school lunch.

It's like my kids are hurtling ahead and they've been on this path the whole time, but me? I'm just catching up, and for me these numbers five and seven are pivotal.  They seem to be catapulting me forward.

It's good in a way.  I see my kids looking happy, doing well, loving each other and I feel contented.  They are exactly where they are supposed to be.  That fills me with a burgeoning sense of.....something good.  Not pride, not satisfaction, but the opposite of worry.  Something like calm but with a pinch of euphoria and a little sprinkle of thankfulness mixed in.

And parenting is a gig filled with worry, so any moments you get thrown in which worry is absent, well they are some excellent moments.  To be cherished.

It's kinda bad in a way too, this growing up caper because they are so big.  My baby is five years old. He's totally not a baby anymore.  He's enormous and he's got his own opinions about things and he's going to school next year.  So there's that.

And that's it.  No more babies in the house.  No more uses for those swaddles I have tucked away, or the gorgeous woven basinet that used to sit beside the bed.  No more nappies, no more thoothless smiles (unless you count the seven year old with the missing front teeth).  No more thighs with beautiful creases of fat, no more squidgy hands grabbing at hair and earrings and noses.  No more wailing cries that only a milk-full breast can quiet, and how.

No more tiny feet shoved in mouths, no more marvelling at the minute little toe nails.  No more newborn baby smell.  No more "Round and round the garden like a teddy bear."  No more first words or first steps or first "I love you too, Mama."

No more cute mispronunciations, funny lisps or gurgling giggles.  No more falling asleep in my arms.  No more feeding from my breast.  No more flutterings in my tummy.  No more elbows jabbing my ribs.

I have two kids.  They are five and seven.  Next year they will be six and eight.  And if we are lucky they will be as happy and healthy as they are today.

But as time charges ahead I need to take pause.  To acknowledge that I am in a new phase of parenting and that the other phases are now behind me.  I am not going to revisit those phases again.  No more pregnancy, no more birth, no more newborn babies, no more toddlers.

I know I have other new phases and chapters and challenges and joys ahead of me.  And I embrace all that.  And I know that I am so fortunate to have the kids I have and to be here to watch them grow and to be able to go through these phases with them.  I am grateful, do not for one minute think otherwise.

But I am also sad.  And it's unhelpful not to acknowledge that.  I'm sad I won't get to experience those things just one last time.  I loved being pregnant, I loved giving birth and even though I was an anxious, sleep deprived, insecure mess I loved mothering newborns.  So I am sad.  I am sad that that chapter of my life is closing.

Hopefully acknowledging the joy and good fortune from which this sadness comes, and acknowledging the sadness itself without judgement and with some kindness to myself will allow me to move through this sad phase and happily, optimistically on to the next wonderful episode of my life.

Five and Seven.

It's so different to be a parent of a five year old and a seven year old.  There is something very real about it.  Something solid.  Like, I think for a lot of the newborn stuff you feel so all at sea, so like you don't know anything about anything.  You feel like a learner.  An apprentice.  Maybe even playing dress ups.  Not a real parent yet.  Still grasping the idea that all those parents around you know what you are going through, know what you should be doing, while you are still guessing at all that.  You're still on training wheels.  Even when I had a newborn and a two year old I felt like this.  Like not an experienced parent.  Like I was still getting the hang of things.  Because even though I knew a helluvua lot more about parenting a newborn I knew nothing about having two kids.  So there was that.

But now.  Now!  Now I feel like, well I'm not going to say expert.  Nuh-uh.  Because there is absolutely no such thing as a parenting expert or an expert parent.  Because we are all just making it up as we go along.  But let's just say, when it comes to my own kids I'm starting to feel like a bit of a dab hand.  Don't get me wrong, the wheels still for off.  I still lose my shit.  My kids still wail and cry.  The other day my daughter called me a bully.  And I had to admit she was right.  So things still at times suck.  But what has changed is that I no longer think that that is my fault or my responsibility or my thing to fix.  I know enough to know now that that is just family life.  That is just parenting.  Tempers flare.  That's possibly never going to change.  There are always going to be things, when you are squeezing the needs and desires and moods of four people into one family unit that go awry.  But what I've realised is this, that realising that this is normal and not some sort of failure means that these incidents are less fraught, less all or nothing, less dramatic.  They happen less and when they do they have less sting in their tail.

It's only taken me seven years and two kids but finally I feel like a bone fide parent.  Like if you were handing out diplomas for this shit I would take one now and totally not even feel like a fraud.

Ironically this feeling of finally being a complete parent makes me want another baby all the more.  But let's not go down that path again.  It's not going to happen I guess.  And maybe a big part of the reason I am still so stuck on this, still so attached to the idea of another baby is simply that I am  just not very good at not getting what I want.

So this all feels very transitional.  Like a new phase of the Moon.  I have spent the last eight years looking at once inwardly toward my family and my children and outwardly of myself.  And now I see that view shifting to one that is more outward to the greater world and at the same time more inward as I turn to examine my thoughts and desires for my place in that world.  A world outside the home, a world beyond the needs of my children.

This is at once insecure-making and frightening as well as buoyant and powerful.  I am starting to feel a resurgence of energy, of positivity, of passion.  I get rushed with ideas of things I could try, could experience, could do.  I think about new careers paths and creative projects and get excited about the possibility of combining the two.  It feels, in a way like a second chance, a new beginning, an evolution.  Maybe even a revolution.

It feels like even as I acknowledge the sadness that is there about my kids growing up and about the loss that comes with closing the door on having more babies, it is being transmuted.  And from that very sadness comes the gift of possibility.

And what a gift that is.

Are you in a transition phase right now?  What does that mean for you?

Image Licensed Unde Creative Commons via Morguefile


  1. I actually cried so much in the waiting room of the vasectomy clinic that I had to leave. My husband had to come and see if I was ok , I sat in our car and bawled my eyes out and couldn't regain composure to go back in. We had decided together and waited a while in case we changed our minds. I'm not sure if I wasn't ready, wasn't sure or was just so overwhelmed with grief that I was saying goodbye to possibility of another baby, and to that chapter of my life. So your words resonated with me. Time marches on and now I have a 17 and a 15 year old, it seems with parenting we are always getting moved on to the next stage. I think a transition is not too far ahead for us, but for now I'm really enjoy having my "babies" still living under the same roof (yet having so much more time to do things for me)and watching them become amazing young women and live their own lives. As usual, enjoyed reading your words Kate!

  2. Oh wow! I really relate to this too lovely, obviously our experiences differ, but that feeling of sort of being dragged into the next phase, before your quite ready for it - it takes some time to adjust. Thanks so much for sharing your gorgeous story. It really makes me feel less alone in these feelings of sadness (and also happiness) at the changing of the tide. xx