I realized how lucky I am.
Coworkers are expecting babies in the next few months. This is, of course, a new and exciting time for them - one is even expecting TWINS! They have much joy, and much fatigue, in their futures. They have the excitement of all the firsts - steps, smiles, teeth, words. Oh, I remember it well.
My life, these days, however, is different. So much different. And it took giggling over baby bellies for me to realize that many of those differences are actually quite awesome. Yes, I will enjoy watching their bellies grow and will snuggle those little ones endlessly given the opportunity (the babies, not the bellies). I would pat little diaper bums and rub circles on their wee backs. I would look at their beautiful little faces and make gooey noises at them.
But no. You could not pay me a million dollars to go back there myself. I've done my years (almost 18 of them so far at my oh-so-young age of 38) and cherish them. But I'm happy to move on.
Yes, I have teenage girls. And a younger girl who thinks she is a teenager. Yes, they swear at me and roll their eyes and stay up too late and write "I thot you loved me" in the dust on my car. Yes, they can choose their own friends, and it doesn't matter whether or not I like them, seeing as how they schedule their own playdates now. (And trust me, if any of those playdates result in me rocking a babe-in-arms again, heads are gonna roll!)
Yes, there are demands for money and more scheduling and plenty of "that's gay!" comments. There are scantily clad self portraits on facebook and lots of creepers that they trust because that's what big-hearted girls do. There is girl drama and cat fights constantly. And yes, money is extremely tight.
There is more clean up than every before. They are far messier than any toddler, with the exception that they don't fingerpaint on the walls with their own poop. But they are still plenty gross nonetheless. There is still much potty talk and a whole lotta bodily functions.
And keeping the oldest one dressed is almost harder now than it was when she was two.
The majority of my time now is spent driving kids around. Of trying to remember who has to be where when. Of homework (soon) and school nights and late-night phone calls. Of fighting over computer and TV time. Of trying to convince the offspring that it is okay to help with dishes, do their laundry and clean their own room. Of watching them play sports with no car seats or strollers.
And while I no longer stand by a crib carefully watching a little chest move up and down, I do sometimes stand by an empty bed in a pink tinkerbell bedroom wondering when the little body who belongs there will be home. A reminder that my life isn't perfect. (Yet.)
The rest of my time, the time I've been most concerned about over the past years - me time - has come to me in abundance. For the most part. With the exception of the stuff I've already mentioned, my life is my own now.
As I sit here, finally blogging, I have one kid out (somewhere), another watching TV and the third out playing on the block with her friends. I have come down to the computer in peace. There is no screaming. No tantrums. No demands on my time.
And I can sit and read a book on the deck with no interruptions.
As promised, things do get better - and easier - as I become less important in my childrens' lives. Their independence is my independence.
How sweet is that?