I am this very hour returned from an Overnight! Of! Fun! with my brother, sister-in-law, and sister-in-law's sister, and I am half-surprised to be alive. I am not sure if you have already noticed this about my temperament, but I am anxious and morbid by nature. My natural reveries, if left unchecked, are along the lines of "What I would do if there were an intruder/fire and I couldn't save all the children at once" and "How long could we survive with only the items already in our house" and "What things around the house would be poignant to everyone if I were to die unexpectedly." So whenever I go away for an overnight and need to drive for a full! hour! on the scary! highway!, my thoughts as I pack my overnight bag are mostly along the lines of this being the last memory the children will have of me.
Nevertheless, here I am, still among the living. And I have come to a fresh realization that I am a country mouse, or actually a town mouse, whatever, but what I mean is not a city mouse. (I think "country mouse" can have negative connotations because of the "mouse" element, so it's important to remember that the mouse from the city was ALSO a mouse.) I say this because I got trapped in a city driveway. Trapped. In a city DRIVEWAY. Completely stuck. I kept slowwwwly backing the car out, and then another car would slam on its brakes and lean on the horn for a good 10 seconds to punish me for wanting to use a road I couldn't see, and then I'd scurry back into the driveway. After trembling and trying not to cry for a minute, I'd realize there was no other option: I HAD to back out of the driveway. So I would creeeeeep back out again, and there'd be the screech of brakes, and I'd scurry back in. My brother, my YOUNGER brother, had to come out and RESCUE ME, including patting my shoulder and then DRIVING AND RE-PARKING MY CAR FOR ME while I went into the house and tried to resume normal breathing.
Well. Anyway. I do enjoy VISITING the city, because it is so pretty and there are so many cool buildings, and because it is so nice to be able to walk everywhere (NOT DRIVE) (PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME DRIVE) (THERE ARE ONE-WAY STREETS OMG SAVE ME) on big wide sidewalks, and there are all these restaurants that serve delicious unfamiliar foods, and there are crosswalks with pedestrian signals so you don't have to wait for traffic to voluntarily stop for you. And there are movie theaters! And so many take-out options! And stores I've heard bloggers refer to, like Urban Outfitters! And there are TEA SHOPS!
I had a second revelation this visit (the first one was about being a town mouse, in case you have lost track), looking at my nearly-3-year-old niece and my nearly-6-month-old nephew: THIS is how we bottle it. THIS is how: by spending short amounts of time with other people's children. I often wish I could have saved some of that overwhelming/frustrating/anxious/boring/endless time with my small children, because it seemed like everyone kept telling me to enjoy it and I KIND OF was and also I COULDN'T enjoy it when that baby would NOT let me put him down for EVEN ONE SECOND and I needed to PEE and I was so TIRED and I smelled like baby barf and I was so hungry but it was time to feed the baby again and I was ruining my toddler's life because I couldn't spend any time with him anymore and this baby was probably the biggest mistake I'd ever made but I love him so much and he's growing up way too fast and one day he'll get old and die waaaaaaaaaaaah!
My point is that it's hard to enjoy that, but that once it was over it became a place I'd like to VISIT. I'd like to pop in, pick up tiny infant Rob, and enjoy the way he would! not! rest his head on my shoulder when I held/burped him, instead of having to fret that it meant he would never love anyone and would end up rocking and keening on the streets (one-way CITY streets) as an old man. I'd like to go back and squeeze 4-year-old William and fuzz his fuzzy head and snuggle his snuggly self and write down more of the funny things he used to say, without worrying that the newborn twins were depriving him of everything he needed. And so forth.
Visiting a niece and a nephew is like getting to go back for a visit. It is of course not exactly the same---but since we can't have that, this is as close as I've found, and I will take it. I squeeze my baby nephew's satisfying baby shape, and I play "Hi! Hi! Oh, HI! Hi! Hi, baby! Hi!" with him, and appreciate the cuteness of his kicky feet and bunchy keeks and feetie sleeper, and it reminds me of my own babies. And I watch my niece playing, and I admire her little ponytails and her baby teeth and her funny dancing, and I am so amused by how every single thing she says is so cute AND so funny in phrasing and tone and pronunciation, and it reminds me of my own babies.
But it's a VISIT, and I don't have to potty-train anyone or get up in the night with anyone or worry about which preschool to choose or feel like I can't put a baby down for even a second or figure out how to fill an endless day or wonder if we're doing enough / too much tummy time or ANYTHING. It is ALL GRAVY. I assume this is what people mean about grandchildren later on.
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...