Updated: May 20, 2020
Thanks to sheltering in place for approximately 3,045 days, I am finally over my baby fever. Not because I am turning another year older in a few weeks, and not because I have gray
hairs creeping out of my scalp or the beginning of fine lines around my eyes. Certainly not because my husband continues to refuse to endure another pregnancy. But because my big kids have reminded me how exhausting it is to have babies.
I don’t know about anyone else out there, but this last month has made me feel like the mother of littles again. Y’all. I finally see that I don’t have the energy to be the mother of littles again.
I miss eating out. We stopped eating at restaurants about the time our kids turned 2 and didn’t darken their doors again for several years. Taking toddlers to sit-down dinners is awful. Kids are shrieky and messy and about the time you think you are going to get to take a bite, someone topples a drink. Or his sister. And it didn’t matter how large our tip was, waiters did not miss us. But I missed them. I hated going to the store all the time, and the endless cook and clean cycle. But here I go again.
And just like growing toddlers, my growing pre-teens are hungry all the time. But cheese cubes, cereal and sandwiches are not cutting it this time around. I cook breakfast and feed them before online school starts. I clean the kitchen. In an hour or two, then they need a “brain break” snack. That is code for, “we are smearing peanut butter on everything and leaving our plates on the counter.” And before you know it, it’s time to fix lunch. And they have become spoiled by hot school lunches! Now lunch has become First Dinner, often with vegetables, a main course and fruit for dessert. After lunch, I clean the kitchen again and plan Second Dinner while they endure forced outside time.
Now half the day is gone and the kids are ready for free time. But, just like when they were little, it must be supervised. Otherwise, my son will spend all of his time playing video games and my daughter will make a spectacular arts and crafts mess. Raising Bodacious is like having a drunken toddler that can reach things. Suffice to say, there is a very good reason the food coloring, paints, permanent markers and glue are now stored in that useless cabinet above all refrigerators! But in good news, her Sharpie “freckles” have finally started to fade from Face Tattoo Day.
After free time, we have Clean Up time. When they were in pre-school, I sang the “Clean Up” song. They would run around singing along with me while not picking up their things. Cute but maddening. But now that they are older, I have learned a new song. You may have heard it, it’s called “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor.”
I sing it loudly while carrying a big trash bag. What they don’t pick up, goes in the bag. Now, when they were small, I didn’t throw their things away. Instead, I hid them in the garage until they earned their things back with good behavior. Now, I actually throw things away. You never saw anyone run as fast as my kids can when I dangle charging cables and wireless controllers over the bin!
But the biggest reason I have realized I can’t have another baby -- privacy. Or lack thereof. Remember when your kids were little and you would attempt to shower or go to the bathroom without them? You would look down and see little fingers waggling under the door accompanied by please for entrance. Well, it is happening all over again. My kids follow me everywhere and want me with them all the time. They want hugs and kisses, and they want to talk and talk and talk. I have become playmate and constant companion.
I know that they are lonely, I understand that. I am grateful for so much family time, grateful that we have a home, food and resources. I also know I will miss this so much when school starts back next fall and they are too busy for their mom. But I can’t help feeling like momma needs some space and some quiet time, too. That “me time” is from midnight to 2 a.m. Like a ninja, I sneak into the kitchen for a stealth snack. Then I watch cheesy television shows while I shop online for things I suddenly can’t live without but never knew I needed before.
I remember feeling this way often when the kids were little. Isolated from friends, like the entire day had to be on a schedule, tired from not sleeping long enough. I am ready for sheltering in place and social distancing to end soon. I want summer to get here soon, too. I just hope it gets here before all the midnight snacks show up on my waistline or I bankrupt us with Amazon Prime!