On the perils of aging with children

Fiona snuggled into me and petted my arms as we lay recovering on her bed from what was possibly her sixth tantrum of the day. It might have been seventh. It might have been fifth. Really there’s only so many times you can be shrieked at in a day, and pelted with tiny fists while deftly avoid being bitten, only to watch your temporarily feral child naw on her own arm, before you stop counting the tantrums and start counting the hours until bed. And considering therapy. For everyone.

“Mama,” She said, in a tremulous, frustrated voice, “When I grow up and I’m a mama,  then can I be in charge?”

“Well,” I replied, stroking her hair, “when you grow up and are a mama, then you’ll be in charge of your kids.”

“What about you?” She demanded.

I laugh just a little, “No, you won’t be in charge of me. By then I’ll be even older. I’ll be a grandma to your babies.”

“And will you be really, really, really old?” She asked in a shocked voice.

“Yes, Fiona,” I say, smiling, resigned to my rapidly approaching antiquity. “When I am a grandma, I will be really, really, really old.”

There was a short pause, during which time I am sure she had Thoughts. I have no idea what they were. I can only assume that they bothered her. Greatly.

“Noooo!” She wailed, bursting into uncontrollable sobs. “Mommy! You can’t! I don’t want you to get old!”

It took several minutes of comforting and reassuring and cuddling and repeating that I would not be aging all that quickly to get her to calm down. I’m still not sure why she was quite so distraught, but she sure didn’t like the idea. Maybe it’s best if I don’t tell her she’s giving me gray hairs any time soon though. Just for her peace of mind.

In light of our conversation, I might just invest in a good dye job. And a good face creme. And, truth be told, though I’ve never really worried over the idea of getting older, somehow her distress at the idea was contagious. I don’t, after all, feel like being old. I like the idea of youth. I like the possibility of it. The intense sense of freedom of choice. The idea that exists like the air around youth that one could become anything.

And I find myself wishing that I could have more time back to chase dreams. I find myself aching for enough time in the day to pursue the things that really make me question, and dream, and give me that sense of fierce accomplishment.

That wish is followed by a vague sick fear that I’ve already wasted too much time. That there are too many loads of laundry and too many dishes, and today is already mostly spent. And tomorrow will be eaten away by all the things that consumed today. And I feel almost frantic with the desire to grab back all of my time and energy and hoard it to myself.

Then the calmer me prevails. The wiser me. The me that has spent a little over thirty years learning how to be alive reminds me to breathe. Reminds me that life is about living. Creating is part of it. Pursuing is part of it. Laundry is part of it. All the triumphs and tragedies are no more or less important than all the trivia and mundane. It’s all just part of living. And that, really, if I’m so worried about it, then I should just get to living.

And, with that, my anxious self chimes in. Yes! Get to living! After all, early thirties just a hop skip and shuffle away from geriatric!

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