I am not the sort of mother who wants to hold onto her children’s childhood. I’m mostly excited by each new passage and stage as they grow up.
Even so, I sometimes feel a pang when I realize they have ceased to do something that used to define them as they pass to the next phase of growth. Which means I never marked the last time Helen called me “MommyNanny” (her toddler name for me, probably based on marathon readings of “I Love You Like Crazycakes”), said “dee-doo” instead of thank you or wouldn’t go to bed without her blanket (which happened sometime last year…I still miss blankie). And I never noted when Mei stopped telling stories to her stuffed animals, no longer stretched her arms upwards demanding “Uppys” or ended the unbearable phase of not eating the skins of any food (I’m not talking just apples here, but also tomatoes and grapes and peas, for goodness sake, things that just aren’t meant to be peeled).
I realize with a start that something precious is gone only when it has been absent for some time. It is of course entirely unrealistic to expect we should be able to calendar our closures and say goodbye on a schedule. Children grow and change on their own time. But it still catches me sometimes, a reminder of how fleeting this life is, the sweetness of moments that will never return.
Today is the first week of fall schedule with after school activities that demanded I make something in a crockpot, and fast. So between meeting the school bus and driving to kung fu class, I put what I could find (tomato paste, broth, grated ginger, garlic, sweet curry powder, cumin, more garlic, carrots, onion and chicken thighs) in the pot and set it on high. I spent the next two hours regretting the decision since my kids had never before welcomed curry of any kind and one or both were sure to turn up their noses at dinner. We arrived back home to a heavenly smell and I threw some frozen nan on the grill. Five minutes later we were eating. “What is this flavor? “they wanted to know. “Why haven’t you made this before?” Far be it from me to point out that past curries had sat, untouched, while they carried on about how awful it was.
So not all these losses are sad. Like Helen’s mysterious and violent night terrors, Mei’s productive, projectile pre-tonsillectomy sneezes and both girls toilet training, there are some thingsI don’t miss at all. And we can’t wait to eat the leftover curry tomorrow.