I have, to my initial surprise, loved being a stay-at-home mother. Though I expected to continue working outside the home during these pre-school years of parenthood, a couple of unexpected and upsetting daycare situations ended that pipe dream. Lucky for me. I've discovered that I love trimming little child-sized fingernails. Scrubbing their soapy, shampoo-y heads while they languish in the bath with their GI Joes and their ponies feels like therapy. I've found that making healthy, home-made baby food really does it for me. I've realized that taking kids for walks to the park equals fun. I love chatting with tiny people, meandering our way through conversation, peppered with the cutest mispronunciations I've ever heard. I love reading to these perfectly round and warm small Ones, as we snuggle up in bed together, their hot, perfect breath warming my very insides. I've felt very happy, very fulfilled over the course of these last thirteen years. My work has felt very meaningful.
As I imagine the upcoming year, and the countless others stretching out surreally beyond it, it scares me to think that it may be full of things like a perfectly clean home with empty rooms overtaking everything for much of the time. No one will pee the bed any longer, needing me to swoop in to the rescue, comforting and cleaning as I go. Who will leave chaotic, comforting paths of K'Nex and Lego as they go along their merry way? I foresee the beginning of the end of the thousands of pieces of child art that have decorated my life for so long. Who will I teach to read? Who will forget to flush the toilet? Or leave a hundred toothpaste-spattered sinks in their wake? It will be so clean in here that the sheer emptiness of it will underline my sucky-baby grief. For to acknowledge that I am indeed a Suck is probably only fair. And yet, when you're a Suck, caught inside the skin of a Suck, what does one do?
I know I'll get over it in time. I have dear women in my life who have walked this path and lived to tell about it. They say the hurting dulls after a while, that you stop wondering all the day long what your Littles are doing at that very second. Whether or not someone is treating them unkindly just then. Whether or not they're trading the apples and nectarines in their lunches for a junky Dunkaroo or a Pop Tart. Whether or not they're using their classtime well. Or if they're talking the whole way through the way that both their Mother and their Father did. These are the questions that I suspect will haunt me.