the job

I know it is coming.  And a part of me is sad about it every single day and with every kiss Ezra spontaneously gives me.  I read a post on Rants from Mommyland and realized that I had put off writing this post for too long.  No matter how hard it is, I have to do it.  If I don’t, I might forget or put it off too long and never do it.  And in the time that is coming, I will desperately want these memories. Because one day, a day that I know will be here much, much too soon, memories of this are all I will have. 

Ezra is 3½ – every flippin day of it.  He is adorable (when told that he quickly responds, “I not adorable.  I Ezra!” Could he BE any cuter?!?).  He is also maddening.  Much to my chagrin (and to my resigned expectations), he inherited his father’s temper.  Luckily for Ezra, Jay and I do not have bad tempers, but we can reach maxed out levels of exasperation, which will land Ezra in his room until he has mastered his temper.  Teaching him to control it is going to be an ongoing battle for Jay and me – one we will have to win.  I would include Ezra’s father in that, but seeing how he has yet to be able to master his own temper, I am not too terribly confident in his ability to teach Ezra. 

He is also fiercely independent.  I do not know how many tantrums his lack of dexterity has caused or how many times he has undone something I have done for him because it was “Ezra’s turn,” but I assure you it is a staggering amount.  Thank goodness he has pretty much mastered buttoning all of his jeans himself.  I cannot count the number of times I had to do it for him because the snap was just too hard for his little fingers to work and how angry he got that I had to do it.  He would try for 15 minutes getting angrier and angrier.  I would do it for him. That would send him over the edge and he would unsnap it – and we would start all over.  Finally, after another 15 minutes of trying he would scream for help in resigned frustration.  This also goes for opening car doors, buckling his seat belt (yes, a five point harness which takes him forever, but he will have a conniption if I do it), closing the car door and opening doors at school (which are really too heavy for him).  He checks to make sure I am not helping.  More than once this has resulted in smashed fingers because I could not catch the door quickly enough since he will not allow me to lay a single finger on it while he opens it.  I try to be sneaky and hold it, but he still catches me. 

On the other hand, he is so incredibly affectionate!  He will tell me, “Mommy, I you best friend.”  He will run up and give me hugs and kisses on a whim. He loves to snuggle and is awake every morning at 6a laying in bed waiting.  Sure enough, pretty soon after 6a I will hear, “Mommy, can I come to you bed?”  He used to sneak into bed with Jay and me in the middle of the night, but we have gotten him to where he will wait in his bed until the sun comes up.  In all honesty, even though I was squooshed between him and Jay in the queen size bed we currently have, I secretly loved it.  Jay put his foot down about it, though, and 6a is the compromise we have all reached.  For 30 (ok, 45) minutes, I will lay there content and doze extra time just basking in their embraces.

Jay and I are Jeopardy! fans and we watch it every night before Ezra’s bath time.  Ezra does the opening “This IS Jeopardy!” and knows that you answer with a question. He also has the music during final Jeopardy down pat.  He drives his trucks and cars or flies his planes or Iron Man while Jay and I hone our trivia knowledge. We have pillow fights with the living room throw pillows.  Correction.  Jay and Ezra have pillow fights – my job is to watch and be entertained.  One night I joined in as the pillows flew by my head and Ezra told me, “Not you, Mommy.  You too little.  Only Ezra and Jay.”  Well, yes, sir.  I got a similar response one night when I tried to bathe him after Jay had done it a few times in a row.  “Not you, Mommy.  You sit down on da couch and watch da news.  Come on, Jay, it bath time!”  Jay does bath time every night – at 8:30 sharp. 

But, oh, how he loves his mama!  He either wants me to do everything with him or watch while he shows off for me.  If he is sad, hurt, tired or needs anything, I am the one he wants.  I tuck him into bed every night. I give as many kisses as he will allow me and I take as many as he will give. Some nights I cannot help but lie down and snuggle up with him after I say good night.  I have to be careful because I cannot do it every night or he will start demanding it, but I really love to.  More than once I have fallen asleep with him wrapped in my arms and woken up at midnight still snuggled up with him.  I lie there almost in tears from the sweetness of his little sighs and snores.  A friend of mine wrote about this much more eloquently than I ever could.  I cannot read her post without melting into tears.

This is the job.  This is what we do as moms.  We prepare them to leave us.  We have to.  As another friend of mine put it, “I am doing a very important job.  I am turning out people here!”  And that’s what mothers do.  We raise people.  We raise citizens.  We raise children from babies who are totally dependant creatures to be responsible independent adults. 

Now, think about the ones who don’t turn out that way.  At best, they are jokes.  They are caricatured.  SNL has that disturbing Bedelia skit about the girl who is socially inept and so crazy about her parents.  We all know what we think of the kid who is still tied to his mother’s apron strings at 25.  Remember Jonah Hill in Cyrus?  Or Failure to Launch?  As moms, no matter how much we may want to, we cannot hold on to them. We have to raise them to let us go.  To be men and women who will vote and run this country, who will have jobs and shape the future by raising the next generation of kids after them.  This is the job.

And every day as Ezra grows a little farther away from me, I know I cannot hold on to him.  I have to let him go out into this big, wide and scary world.  I know that over time he will pull even farther away from me.  I know the days of him crawling into my lap and us reading Yertle the Turtle will come to an end.  I know there will come a morning when he will not be awake at 6a waiting to ask to snuggle up in bed with me.  Every time I read him Oh, the Places You’ll Go, I think about him graduating from high school and thinking it is silly when I give him back this copy of it.  Paul the Apostle said, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put away childish ways.” And I bet it broke his mama’s heart to watch him grow up, too, but that same heart probably swelled with pride at the man he became. 

I also know the coming years will bring other joys for me to cherish.  I will read the Harry Potter books to him like I did his big sister.  I will teach him how to treat a girl.  I will get to watch him play sports and learn new things.  I will teach him to cook.  I will get to explore the world through his eyes for years to come.  I will teach him self control and responsibility.  I will teach him to be a man.

I have a new baby coming.  And there is something pulling at my heart every day.  I am 40.  This is very likely my last pregnancy.  This will probably be my last child.  I have one more babyhood to look forward to.  I will have one more toddler who will want to cling to me to the point of exasperation.  I have one more child to nurse, rock to sleep and sing to.  But just this one more. 

So every time I tell Ezra that Mommy cannot hold him right now, I check myself and wonder if that is really true.  Is this something I cannot take a few minutes to do?  Because I have to remember that there are a finite number of times he will ask.  Do I really want to pass this one up?  And, you know what? Usually I find that whatever I thought was so important that I could not take that few minutes really was not important after all.              

“I know the moment will come when she’ll cease to be mine and start to be her own. And I know that’s as it should be.”  I have lived through that.  Greta will be 19 in a few weeks.  I had her when I was 21.  I was a kid.  And it never occurred to me that I would forget.  True, there are some things I still remember.  I still remember that she said “camote” for remote, that I affectionately called her “Butter” for years because she would eat a stick of butter like a candy bar if given half a chance and that she had a smart mouth and a razor wit (and still does).  There are a hundred other things I could think of if I sat here and tried.  But there are millions I have forgotten.  And a million others she has outgrown.  In my immaturity I did not realize it would happen.  I was too young to realize she would grow up and I would forget.  A lot of times I wanted her to grow up so she could do more on her own.  I did not think about all the things I would miss about her childhood. 

Having Ezra (and soon another baby) have reminded me of all that.  My maturity has grown.  The last 20 years have gone by much faster than I ever thought 20 years could pass.  I can see how quickly Greta’s childhood flew by and how much of it I took for granted, forgot or miss to this day.  I know that it will be too soon when the days of Dr. Suess, even for the baby I am pregnant with right now, are behind me.  The job is to prepare them to leave me.  I feel privileged to have such an ominous and important task.  I just hope that, even when he is 30, I will be able to remember his three-year-old voice saying, “Mommy, I you best friend.”

Please, Dear God, let me be able to remember.

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