Costco sells big boxes of graham crackers that hold four regular sized boxes — the kind that you can pick up at your local market. These days, my family, well, my boys really, eat enough graham crackers to make a run to Costco for things like graham crackers in bulk both cost and time efficient.
Whether it’s the changing seasons or the shortening days with the barely lightening mornings, I’ve been thinking about this phase in my life as my ‘graham cracker days.’ There will come a day when my boys will no longer want or eat graham crackers, but today is not that day. With no other little one on our horizon, I am perhaps more acutely aware that this will be our last time at the graham cracker rodeo.
Last week we swapped out our very last latched car seat for a high backed booster. Diapers are now reserved for night time only for our little guy and are sometimes even dry in the morning. I no longer think about snacks and drinks every time we leave the house, though I do carry a clean set of underpants and shorts in my purse at all times. At. All. Times.
Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes . . .
I am ready for it. At forty-freaking-seven years old, I am ready for it. Lordy, am I ready for it. And it’s all good. While so many of my former classmates are sending kids off to high school and college, I am sweeping up Cheerios and wiping bottoms. I am too old for this shit. Literally and figuratively.
When I see babies now, I smile politely, but almost always think to myself, “Whew, I’ll never have to go through that again.” Yesterday, my little guy, for only the second time, sat on the toilet and made a poop. Flloooooossshhh it went, down to join its friends at the poop water park. The last time he pooped on a toilet was in April. I danced and celebrated and texted my husband. Finally, maybe, possibly, I see the light at the end of this very stinky tunnel.
My experiences with motherhood have not been easy. After burying our oldest, having four miscarriages, and adopting our youngest, I know more than most that mothering and motherhood is precious and fleeting and a gift that not all are offered or prepared for. To mother is sacred. sa-cred, an adjective: holy, hallowed, consecrated, sanctified, revered, venerated.
Because I know and truly appreciate the gift that it is to get to mother a human, I sometimes find myself feeling guilty when the thought of washing one more poop stained pair of pants or wiping up one more spilled glass of milk at the dinner table or asking yet again for the dirty laundry to be picked up off the floor kind of, sort of makes me want to scream. Part of me believes that because I have buried my daughter and because another mother out there literally placed her baby in my arms for me to raise as my own, that I am supposed to value every single second of it.
I can’t. I don’t.
It’s impossible, isn’t it? The grandmothers behind us at the grocery store tell us to “enjoy every second of it.” Other mothers who are waiting for texts from their teenagers warn us that if we blink, even once, we will miss our little ones growing up. We are told and instructed to be both vigilant and grateful at all times. Nope. It’s enough for me to get through my days.
If there are smiles on the faces of me or my boys as the sun goes down, that’s a win. If my boys are warm and fed and learning and kind and know they are loved, I am succeeding. And if, during some of those days, I am not smiling, but cranky, it’s alright. And if, during some of those days, my boys feel a little chilly or experience a moment of hunger or watch too many screens or feel angry and mad at me, like they are the unlukiest boys in the world to have me for their mama, I’m okay with that, too.
In these graham cracker days, I am happy to put one phase of my mothering to rest. Packing up small clothing and plastic toys and sending them along to the Goodwill for another family to make use of is, for me, a celebration. Guiding these boys to new adventures in schools and figuring out the intricacies of friendships and responsibilities outside the home are the challenges of motherhood I am preparing myself for now, with no illusions that it will be any harder or easier than what came before.
My beautiful husband and I brought babies into our lives in 2005, 2009, and 2013. If you do the math correctly, we’re due for another in 2017, but as the year winds down and there is not a whiff of wondering what to expect while we are expecting, I feel so grateful and happy and accomplished for what we have done. And I am stoked as I look ahead to my next phase of motherhood. The one with fewer graham crackers.