I’ve written before, urging parents who are battling through the early years with their kids NOT to reprimand older types who well-up and stammer that when their own kids were that age, it was the best years of their life.
I understand, however, that parents who are being tortured on a daily basis by boundary-flexing, sleep-depriving, tantrum-throwing, thing-wanting small children are not interested in any of that teary, nostalgic nonsense. They have enough of their own welling-up to ponder, thank you very much. Maybe they have other people in their care who are constantly welling-up, even?
THAT SAID, I’m going in. Flying in the face of the addled parents who don’t need this nostalgic nonsense, because oh my gosh those truly are brilliant years.
The old lady at the supermarket talking to yawning mum of small kids about how every day counts needs a high five – because SHE IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.
And land sakes, imagine if we knew this – and I mean truly KNEW and felt this – when we were deep in the trenches of those years.
I’m not saying it would make everything rosier and magically inject a bracing dose of patience or resilience in parents who are fed up to the eye teeth with their phone being chucked in the loo or Peppa Pig being demanded by a wild-haired toddler at seventeen minutes past four in the morning.
What I am saying is it might help a TITCH in those dark moments, and we should keep what these elders have to say in the back of our minds.
What I am saying is … kids leave.
I mean, I know that everyone KNOWS they leave in a sort of academic, hat-tipping, that’s-what-we’re-working towards way … But the leaving is beyond the knowing, because knowing about something is not actually feeling it or living it, if that makes any sense. It all seems good, in theory, but the fact is the knowing is not KNOWING, in this case.
The leaving part is a bit BRILLIANT, don’t get me wrong, because JOB DONE. TICK. Well. Sort of, because they will sort of dip in and out, scooping up love (and a spicy sambal made of little fish – that is a thing in our house, okay, so just leave it) and a receptive ear when they need it.
But the leaving bit, is the end of the first major growing-up and spreading wings and buggering off part. And with that bit, you really do wave goodbye to things you didn’t know you were going to.
Mess, for starters. There is less. It seems like that would feel good, but the tea-stained table top and stacked mugs with leaves in the bottom and random bits of smoking bread you didn’t realise someone else got stuck in the toaster weirdly feel like valid things to miss.
Bumping shoulders with another bleary soul in the morning, that’s missable too. Noisy chatter and bingles around the dinner table. Missed. A daily rhythm that includes a bunch of different peoples’ needs, all smooshed into a mashed-up life. Missed.
The persons that used to helpfully eat the leftovers and fight the battle of food waste/tell you that curry you made the other night was brilliant? Missed. Even the persons that left just enough milk for half a cup of coffee in the fridge. Missed.
The persons that used to bring their friends over after school and play their music too loud and slam siblings out of their room? Missed. Missed. Missed.
Delving even further back, there are many missable things.
There’s no little hand extending up for reassurance or companionship as you wander down the street. No neck hugs. NONE I TELL YOU. There are no little voices delighting in things you had forgotten to notice. “LOOK Mum! A BUS STOP!!!”
There’s no-one clammily crawling into your bed, annoyingly jumping on your bed or even casually sitting on your bed – you doing up your shoelaces and thinking about whether the notes at the bottom of today’s school/creche bags will be crisp and dry (or have the remains of a juice box seeping into them like an unwelcome tide) while they chat about some other IDIOT kid at school who was rampaging through the classroom with a pot of Clag and a bad attitude earlier that day.
The house is empty of them and their clutter and their clatter and their curry and their testing/lovely companionship … and even their Clag.
And you realise you’d known about this, but you didn’t truly know it.
And, look, YES ‘SPLAINERS OF THE INTERNET it’s your turn to chime in, because of course it’s all for the best and it’s fine and dandy, eventually and onward and all. Everyone adjusts, it’s the cycle of life, it’s what parenting is about. Yada yada. Etc. Thank you for saying your piece, we are all wiser now.
What I’m saying is … kids really. Truly. DO. Leave.
And you should know that you will miss them – and their crumbs – very much.
Image/Eager For Words on ETSY