4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.
We’ve been talking a lot about transitions lately. My son is horrible at them. Like, he sucks at transitions. Let me clarify. He sucks my soul out and leaves it on the floor next to the sneakers that he never puts on his feet, the seatbelt he never buckles.
This isn’t a shocker. Even when he was just a baby and then a toddler and doing early intervention with a therapist, we always had to work extra hard on getting him to go from one thing to the next. I remember that in August we introduced him to mittens in the hopes that by November he’d have adjusted to the feel of them on his baby hands, the warmth to stave off the cold.
Before school started this fall, I began to think about his need to now make transitions as a big first grader. Two weeks before school started I began setting deadlines for getting things done. “Hey, slow guy,” I would say, “I’m setting the timer for five minutes. You have to have your shoes on and be outside by the time the bell goes off or there will be a consequence later.”
I took away a cookie treat. I took away a favorite book. I even took away ice cream. Although to be honest, everyone gave him such a big taste of their ice cream he ended up with almost the same amount in the end. (Which secretly made me happy.)
This year has not necessarily been perfectly smooth sailing; he has been trying out a new wise-guy persona as exemplified by the use of the word “whatever”. But as far as transitions go, it hasn’t been horrible. Every once in awhile he’s not even the last one out the door headed to the car in the morning.
What I’ve realized though, in thinking about transitions, is that perhaps I am not so great at transitions. Summer is over. School has begun. All my children leave me at around 8:15 am as I literally throw their four backpacks out the driver side window and my four kids pile out of the slider door of the minivan, grab their bags and head off to their classrooms, independent and bold. They write book reports, they try hard at soccer, they have opinions. Time has passed, and it is officially a new year.
Yesterday I finally cleaned out the twins’ closet and got rid of the last lingering vestiges of baby-dom: a couple baby monitors, a baby bathtub, a changing pad, six cases of unused baby wipes (damn you, Diapers.com.) I filled the closet instead with kid furniture, a soft little rug, a bookshelf of Nancy Drew books, bins of art and building supplies so that instead of a bizarre dumping zone of memories under the eaves of the house, the space has become a little kid lounge, a place for pretend play, privacy and independence. It was a big move for me.
October is here now. It is no longer the first month of school. I still haven’t quite figured out the rhythm of my day. Even with them at school, I still never have enough time. Never. Time to be supermom, super writer, super closet-cleaner, super athlete, super artist, and super me. Perhaps that is just too big a transition for any one human to expect for herself.
But my son, the non-transitioner, turns seven this week. Before my very eyes he has transitioned from a mitten-avoiding toddler to a beautiful, creative, empathetic, wiseass, innovator of a boy. When asked to build a small ocean creature for the ocean wall at school, he builds a tremendous hammerhead shark complete with LED lights that makes all the kids say cool. When we ride bikes he rides right next to my running legs, struggling to slow down enough for me to keep up, when only last year he struggled to keep up with me. He seemed behind us all for so long, and now I see that he is ahead.
These are transitions that neither of us could hold off, no matter how hard we tried. And I’m realizing that that’s okay.
Happy birthday, big boy.
(This is one of a two part twin celebration. Check out his twin’s birthday here.)