Saturday, August 19, 2006

Future Shock

My children are growing up fast.

Today, as I casually asked my eight year old son to light the fire for me, I realised how quickly time has gone by. Even a year ago the thought of deliberately putting my child, newspaper, wood and matches together in an inflammable situation would not even have entered my head. Now it it one of his favourite evening duties and my six year old gets to light the candle on the supper table.

The other day out shopping, on my own as all the children were at school, I heard a howling issuing from the next aisle. It progressed inexorably around the supermarket, until it and I arrived at the till at the same time. I looked across to see myself five years ago - a mother with baby sitting in the trolley and toddler, still howling and dragging his heels and her arm out of its socket. Her face was deadpan. The baby then started crying too. She proceeded with all due speed to pay for her groceries, as I watched sympathetically and wondered whether to say anything in solidarity. I didn't, then wished I had.

One thing that stopped me was the memory of how intimidating all those mothers of older children used to seem, when I was at that stage, how nonchalantly they used to manage their offspring. Just as when you're pregnant with your first, all those second or third time mothers have a slightly superior, knowing look....and once you're there yourself you know that you can't help it...you feel like you've earned it, with the sweat of your brow and all those sleepless nights, but still...it's that 'human nature, climbing the rungs of the ladder, you can never catch up with your older sibling cos they've moved up another rung while you've been busy climbing' thing.

I've been looking ahead up the ladder and seeing the teen years ahead - ok still a long way ahead but time is starting to slip past very quickly now. The thought of my children as teenagers terrifies me, they already seem to know it all, how will I retain any semblance of authority when they are already challenging me at three years old pretty convincingly? So all you who have already been through this particular rite of passage can lean back down the ladder with a kindly, reassuring and only ever so slightly knowing and superior smile and give me a little pat and say "it'll all be all right in the end dear".

Here I am feeling a little nostalgic that the baby stage is over. We're not planning any more, our heads tell us that three is fine, we're too tired for any more, though four had been our original ideal number. Then bombshell strikes: as a birthday present my sister in law sent me to a numerologist/psychic, who will do a chart-reading using your name and birth date and any business names to help you work out where you're going. I was interested in going, to get some insight into how I should start getting into work and earning again, now that I have some time with the kids all at school in the mornings. I've put out various feelers, but nothing has come back yet and we need me to be bringing in some income at the moment. So it was all very useful. She was sane, objective and completely on track with what she said, very helpful about pointing out which ideas might be fruitful and which were useful, community-building but not about money (like this blog!).....so I was nodding away in agreement until she said:
"You're going to have another baby"...
"WHAAAAAT!"....
She didn't see when...and she sees me working from home earning my living by writing (which is great - but if any of you out there do already, I'd appreciate some tips on where to start the earning part of the equation!).

So of course I could juggle this laatlammetjie (pronounced lartlammakie - Afrikaans meaning late little lamb or little afterthought) with my hands tied behind my back.... BUT I'm nearly 41 and there'd be a big age gap and I've given away most of the baby clothes now.....internal panic...I know she could have got it wrong and, going by the conversation of the dads at a birthday party I was at today, I'm stark staring bonkers believing anything a 'so-called psychic' says anyhow etc.etc. but the thing is, even though our heads have ruled it out our hearts never did quite fully agree, so I could see it happening by 'accident', even though our heads are trying to make sure it doesn't, and, after all, the kids are all desperate for another baby in the family...! And don't faint Mum if you're reading this, we're not going to get pregnant intentionally, it's the last thing we need right now!

Now what I really need to do is forget about the putative baby (after all it could have been symbolising something completely different, like maybe a new puppy, though I could do without one of those too!) and concentrate on the career bit of her advice. I'm going to be moving along from being a SAHM to being a WAHM (stay at home mother to work at home mother - mind you the distinction is academic since stay at home mothers seem to spend most of their time working pretty hard) and that's going to be challenging enough to deal with.

4 comments:

  1. Wanted you to know I finally linked you. Love the recipes and the rest of your blog.

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  2. I like that my girls are growing up, and are able to do more and more every day. When my path crosses that of a new, struggling mom, my eyes see her in a compassionate way. Her crying baby will never bother me. Her tantrum throwing two year old will only make me smile kindly, without sarcasm. If it looks like she needs help, I'll offer it, but if it looks like she is going to manage just fine, I tend not to say anything, either.

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  3. This is really strange that you posted this yesterday Kit...I was in a hardware store and heard a small child sobbing and throwing a mild tantrum. My eyes fixed on a young mom, her mother and a 2.5- 3 yr old adorable little girl sitting in the cart her knees up to her chin just miserable. Her long, mussy wavy hair in her face. I smiled at the girl and she stood up and stared back at me, brushing the long hair oh so coquetish like to the side. The frown was starting to soften a bit as I continued to glance her way smiling. I was an "old" grandma to her and she somehow knew that I knew what those tears were about...a cry for attention and "hey, I am more important than these paint chips!" A rush of memories flooded me...how time is fleeting and those frustrations can melt away with the years and experience. As for the teen years coming up for you Kit...Betty Davis said it so perfectly in All About Eve...."fasten your seatbelt...it's going to be a bumpy ride!" My youngest will be 14 in Nov. Perhaps we can comenserate in a few more years when your oldest hits 12 or 13! You will do fine...;)

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  4. teenage years are just like those terrible twos, you stand behind them and guide them, and breath in and breath out and smile.

    Fortune tellers ofte speak truth...you are right it could be a new birth without a real baby ...though my cousin had the same thing told her and at 44 she had her third child!!

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Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!