Thursday, 11 October 2012

Nostalgia

I am perched on the rim of the boiler cupboard talking of cat food brands with a row of similarly balanced mothers. It's a weekly ritual. Before us a flotilla of heads bobs in pool which is loaned by a secondary school for swimming lessons. The chlorine smells of vomit. Possibly it is vomit for there are sinister scurf marks on the changing room floor. And all of a sudden it hits me that I shall look back on this unlovely routine with nostalgia when my children are grown.

So startling is this discovery that I consider other tedious childcare fixtures with new eyes. The Saturday morning battle over the Coco-pops in the mini-cereals selection pack, for instance, and the fractious pelt through the park to school. When, in my bath chair, I look back, I'll excise my shrillness and their complaints and remember only sunlit hopscotch over the dog turds. From my bath chair, in fact, even nit-combing will probably come to seem desirable.

When I am no longer indispensable, I shall mourn the fact that noone requires me to:

Manipulate deformed socks onto damp feet after swimming.
Write coded messages on serviettes to kill time in slow restaurants. 
Steer flailing legs along monkey bars in playgrounds.
Be hung with coats, book bags and toppling art work as they erupt past me out of school
Wait on frigid pavements for cubs/netball/drama/choir/riding to finish.
Flap instinctively behind me, whether or not they are with me, for two sticky hands whenever I cross a road.
Trick them into two miles of country walking with a randomly improvised treasure trail.
Conjure Albus Dubledore's facial hair out of bath foam. 
Explain thrice hourly why they can't get a bunk bed/iPhone/iPad/iPod/Facebook account/pierced ears/pack of pastrami sticks/pony/baby sister/baby rat.

I know this because, with the passing of toddlerhood, I already miss:

Nightly reading of The Tiger Who Came to Tea. 
Baking for the weekly birthdays of two dozen fluffy toys.
Eating flaccid cheese sandwiches on flaccid plastic chairs while making flaccid conversation at drop-in play centres.
Enduring the soundtrack of Disney Princesses shrilly avowing to be true to themselves on the M25.
Buying ten minutes of good humour with a jelly bean.
Explaining thrice hourly why they can't get a baby elephant/flying carpet/bedroom slide/wishing chair/candyfloss machine.

I decide, when we return from the swimming pool, to rejoice in the weekly shampoo ritual because one day they'll manage it without me. Twenty minutes, four stinging eyes, one pair of soaked jeans and an unswabbable floor flood later I am longing to be expendable. I may battle nostalgia in my bath chair, but I sure will enjoy the rest!

What do you most miss as your children grow? What mundane routines do you reckon you'll miss most when they've flown?

26 comments:

  1. Strange how you miss all these little joys but they will always be filled with other 'needs'. Believe me when they grow up and 'independent' they will need you more than ever. It might not be to read books to or shampoo hair but their needs will be just as much 'fun'. Even when they leave home you get phone calls in the middle of night for advise, lifts or just a chat!
    Relish every moment, the memories will be such joy while you're in your bath chair. I'll voluteer to push you....to the top of the local park and let you enjoy the thrill of the free ride down the hill. Oooh what fun matron. x

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    1. Ever kind, you are! You mean the hill with the stream at the end?

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  2. Despite having had a fractious 21yr old with post-operative complications to nurse for the past four and a half weeks (and that has included putting his socks on before going to hospital appointment) this pierces my heart to the core. You are so wise to realise the poignancy of every aspect of daily life as a mother. Savour it all! The saving grace is when you see your offspring move off confidently into the adult world.

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    1. Poor you. I hope they're making a speedy convalescence.

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  3. Fantastic post. The toddler bit made me laugh and cry. I can see it all slipping away myself.

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    1. I suppose each stage brings new joys...and there are some things I absolutely do not miss!

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  4. you can do dumbledore? I can only manage a punk....

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    1. Nope. I only said I was required to. Not that I've ever achieved it, although I did do a convincing Robin Cook with some Radox once.

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  5. I love this! Luckily with an age gap like mine I still have a foot firmly in all stages, teen, 8 year old, and baby. The shock of my baby girl being 16 has made me want to keep every memory of Syd precious. But you can't, these moments are fleeting and one must enjoy them and remember what we can, for too soon he will be 16 too. Precious time, and summed up beautifully in the mundane memories that are tinged with magic now those times are no more!

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    1. I always thought big age gaps must be hard work but you've made me see it in a new light.

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  6. I ache for the time when my daughter wore dresses. Now she'll only wear boys' clothes.

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    1. And when she turns punk/Goth you'll long for those football shirt days!

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  7. Well I have to say I am very impressed with your Dumbledore's beard. I will miss playing monsters, bribes with nutella porridge, and having an excuse to watch Rastamouse! X.

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    1. I think the excuse to do childish things in public is a great loss when they grow - 'cos I never have grown out of many of them!

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  8. I miss the every day things I used to do with my two. Even the walks in the rain to and from playgroup. But that's just a part and parcel of missing that particular part of my life what was.

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    1. I suppose that is what we all miss as time seeps away, even when we haven't had our lives changed so drastically as yours. But you seem very good at making the most of your two when you have them.

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  9. I shouldn't have read this tonight. I'm feeling HUGE nostalgia for my daughter's babyhood at the moment. Not helped by the fact I snapped at her at bedtime after one toddler "I want this, no I want THAT, no THIS, no THAT!" too far. And the work routine once again tempting the Mother Guilt to move in. Ugh. As ever, you've reminded me of my mother's wise words to attempt to enjoy every moment. She tells me now that the life of a grandmother is very lovely and she doesn't begrudge any minute of toddler diva behaviour because she knows she has the rest by her Aga with Radio 4 after the toddler has left. Oh, the life of a gran...

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  10. Oh, this is so good. I would quite like mine to be toddlers again. I loved them being toddlers. Sigh.

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  11. I am looking forward to the day when I miss reading Room On The Broom and watching The Duck Song!!! x

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    1. I bet you are. I never dreamt I'd look back on them longingly!

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  12. The Tiger Who Came to Tea is my favourite book of all time.

    I shall miss my children coming into my bed first thing in the morning, and saying "oooh, warmy warmy, you're all warmy, warmy". No alarm clock can ever equal that.

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  13. Why can't they get a bunk bed?

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  14. No. Does that count as an excuse to go to IKEA? I have a family card, so I get a free cup of tea.

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