Written by Shelley Plett Wednesday, 08 August 2007 09:01
“The last time when you ran to me, still small enough to hold. The last time that you said you’d marry me when you grew old. Precious, simple moments and bright flashes from your past – would I have held on longer if I’d known they were your last?” —Karen Kingsbury
I have a friend with a newborn baby. She’s understandably tired, anxious and stressed. I have another who’s “baby” is starting his first year of high school. She’s tired, anxious and stressed too. Then there’s another who is two semesters away from putting her last baby in a cap and gown. She’s tired, anxious and stressed too.
Three moms in three stages recycling the same three emotions again and again.
These things just happen, a loosely predictable string of crayons, diaper rashes, tricycles, bruises, colds, classes, friends, emotions, attitudes, jealousy, dates, and of course the days and nights of crying.
First the baby’s, then yours. Then the turbulent middle schooler’s, then yours. Then the dejected teenager’s, then yours. (Always yours.)
But, one after the next, they pass.
Karen Kingsbury, author of a bazillion or so books circulating the world has written an inventory of best-sellers such as “One Tuesday Morning” (a fictional story about 9/11 and one of our book club’s favorites).
She has another one, masquerading as a children’s picture book called “Let Me Hold You Longer.” This one can serve all parents. It’s one of the best ones (right up there on the “awww” scale with “Love You Forever”) for a brand new mom or one watching over sweet little faces playing on the floor with puzzles and blocks.
It’s also good for any mom, mother, Evil One, or whatever the current perception is, who, right this very minute, is on the furthest brink of losing their mind due to any “baby,” sweet or sour-faced, of any age.
It’s not about the “firsts” that are carefully logged in a scrapbook or videotaped for future reminiscing or blackmail. It’s a heads-up for those elusive “lasts” that we couldn’t recognize until after the fact. The little things that we would never pick up on until we are either, one, a little more experienced or two, warned by someone that they might be getting closer.
Children’s books like this are as much (or more) for the parents as the kids. I don’t just believe they’re fun reads that have a little lesson thrown in. I count on it. They can be mini instruction manuals for understanding how kids work and to prepare us for the little sad and subtle endings that we inadvertently pray for in the heat of chaos.
We ultimately get what we ask for. Like the night your fidgety toddler goes to sleep alone, without being rocked. Or the day you realize your former shadow spends more time in her bedroom than on your heels. And eventually, when one of them empties their room to furnish their dorm or apartment.
You expect to fall in love with these new freedoms and to feel a little lighter, not weighted down by a blanket of inescapable motherly emotions all over again. You think you can handle being needed a little less than before. But instead here you go again: tired, anxious and stressed.
J.D. Salinger was right when he wrote these words in The Catcher in the Rye: “Mothers are all slightly insane.”
They have to be. The job is far too hazardous for the sane ones.