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The Mid-Mothering Crisis

I gave Ollie a fork yesterday at lunch just to see what he’d do with it. He picked it up and stabbed a grilled cheese sandwich cube. He steered the fork to his mouth, plucked the cheesy buttery crunchy morsel off the tines, and chewed. He went from baby to Grand Duke of Kraft Singles in an instant.

Sometimes, I want him to always stay the wide-eyed babe forever, animated but suspended at this perfect age. But then I’d never get to hear him singing in the shower.

One of the biggest lies moms of only little kids believe is that they are only cute until around age 5. Then they morph overnight into tweens and teens, who number their top five emotions as:

1. Sullen
2. Sullen
3. Irritable
4. Miffed
5. All the emotions at once, known as a Superemotion called Life

But it’s not true. Older kids can be just as darling, sweet, and innocent. It’s just that you go longer between moments that make you smile so hard, your dimples can devour a galaxy. And you don’t even have dimples. These moments are what keeps me going when I’m having a Mid-Mothering Crisis.

Moms of large families are particularly susceptible to this crisis. Her older kids are on the verge of blowing the pop stand, the younger are still sliding around the kitchen floor wearing footsie pajamas, drinking from sippy cups. Then, there are the bunch in the middle. The mom is stretched in every direction and feels amazed at how quickly time is passing and how slowly time is passing. She marvels at all the work she’s done and all the work that’s ahead. While one starts her senior year of high school, another starts kindergarten.

But it’s good. She loves it. Reminders cruise from out of the nowhere and settle her heart, giving her moments of pure, crystalline, soaring joy and that’s what keeps her going.

For example, a teenaged boy in the shower on the other side of wall bursts into song.

I’m not naming names.

But one of my older boys was showering when he began to sing a song he learned in Sunday School about ten years ago. I hadn’t heard it in ages. If his mind is like a jukebox, this 45 was really dusty. The machinery fished it up and out to the needle of every bathroom’s superior acoustics. He began to sing the song as it was written. But then, he started adding his own twist. He sang it with a twang, like a country crooner. Then, he channeled a Vegas lounge lizard named Frank Bing Martin Davis, Jr. His fedora must have been sopping wet.

Finally, he ended the song and his shower by taking the stage at the Met, opera style.

I wanted to applaud. I didn’t because I want him to continue singing in the shower.

When Ollie ate with a fork, I applauded. I did because I want him to continue eating with a fork.

I have learned when to applaud and when to not applaud. That’s a Mid-Mothering triumph right there. Crisis, please hold.

7 comments to The Mid-Mothering Crisis

  • I myself know the joys of hearing a teenaged boy singing in the shower, and pray I have many more years of listening. This was lovely, Gretchen. And that Ollie, what a darling boy.

  • Okay, so now I have baby fever even more than before…but this is encouraging to hear right now. Six has given me a run for my money. Let’s hope 16 is something I can look forward to. 🙂

  • Mom

    Applauding your musings. Your life is never dull and I love that you give glimpses of the happenings at the White house.

  • Buff Ramsey

    What a beautifully sweet, razor sharp, spot on description of the something I didn’t have a word for until now, Mid-mothering crisis! Brilliant.

  • Laura

    Stumbled down to this post after reading today’s. This was perfect for me today & just wanted you to know I loved reading it.

  • Love this. I keep getting weepy at my husband because next month our oldest graduates from high school, and our youngest from preschool. He huffs that preschool isn’t a graduation occasion, but still. To comment and not comment, it’s quite a dance.

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