Take a minute to consider how far your family has come. Are you able to successfully transfer your laundry from the washer to the dryer in three minutes of uninterrupted bliss? If there is anyone in the house under 4 years of age then chances are good that some kind of screaming/crying/pottying on oneself/falling down the stairs/stubbing a toe/tantrum ensues whenever you attempt this. If you remember these times but no longer have to deal with them you should give yourself a point for progress.
When you hand your child a crayon and some paper do they color? For more than 2 minutes? Success again! A point for you.
Have you been able to take the child locks off your kitchen cabinets? Do you find yourself without a changing table in your home? Has it been a while since you said, “Good grief, where did all these boogers come from?” Does your bathroom smell like poop less than 100% of the time?
Have you stopped finding microscopic socks in the crannies of your washer? Do you no longer find surprise items in your purse or pockets? Here’s a big one: Is your car without car seats? Are all members of the family able to sit unassisted in the chairs that came with the kitchen table? Has it been a while since you’ve seen Duplo blocks, Mega blocks, Little People, Sesame Street anyting, stacking cups, sippy cups, and compartmentalized kid plates?
Have you moved beyond footie pajamas?
Does your child still kiss you on the lips?
Do they still revel in their nakedness?
Do they still think you’re perfect?
When you become a parent no one tells you that you’ve just entered a new realm of complete vulnerability. Or that you will feel things 5x more than you ever did before. Or that when you hear about a school shooting you will instantly become choked with fear and agony and despair- for all the children whose chances just ended but more for their parents whose pain you can imagine across a multitude of miles.
They never tell you that although you may have loved you have never loved like this.
So you decide to roll with the large shiny blob of snot on your shoulder and you scoop your preschooler up off the floor in between washing the slimy dishes and baking another loaf of bread. You cover her with kisses and then you go rub your cheek on your baby’s soft hair while listening to him coo like a dove.
One day the child locks will be gone and we will all ride in the car with regular seatbelts. We will cook one dinner (instead of 3 different ones) and my kids will cut up their own food and put it in their own mouths. We will stay outside for more than 15 minutes on cold winter days and I will eventually forget the words to Rainbow Connection. We will be able to do things as a family that I’ve never even imagined (because who has time?) like bake together and play board games. We will write plays and have puppet shows and race our sleds in the winter. We will have inside family jokes, our kids will help set up the tent when we camp, and one day we will watch them participate in things such as spelling bees and jogathons.
I’ll be ready for all that when it comes. I certainly will not lament the loss of the poop sprayer attached to the back of my toilet. I will pass my stack of cloth diapers on to the next person quite cheerfully and without any sense of loss. My sippy cups? When the time comes they can be yours if you’d like them.
But the moment right before her bath when my daughter unabashedly shakes her naked butt for every person in the house, and the sound of infectious baby laughter when I tickle the bottom of my son’s feet- I can’t imagine not having those.
One day I’ll pull the final sodden baby sock out of the washer. Thank goodness it will be impossible for me to realize it is the last time.