Yesterday, we went to a Purim carnival, just as we do every year. The twins got dressed up in costumes, ate cotton candy (okay, that was the ChickieNob; the Wolvog would never touch something the consistency of cotton candy), and played carnival games for plastic prizes or stuffed animals. They jumped inside the bouncey castles and hurtled down the inflatable slide. And I spent some of the time thinking, “how many more of these will we get to do?”
Because that’s one of the problems with kids: they age out of things, and usually before you are ready. This blog started with giving up the bottle. When I wrote that post, I truly didn’t believe that I would still be writing here, eight years later, without another child. I thought I would get to go through everything again. But years ago, we switched mentally to, “we will likely not get to experience this again,” and since, I have noted each last, usually after it happened since you never seem to know when your last is going to be your last until it is your last.
So I have watched them age out of each childish thing, and that is a good thing. You wouldn’t want a person to stay babyish forever. But it’s still a hard thing to go through again and again. If you’re terrible at having your child age, you never get better at it. And if you’re fine with having your child age, this post probably won’t make a lot of sense to you. So I guess I am writing it for people like me; people who are constantly looking at the moments they love and wondering how many more of them they’ll get to have.
There is no part of parenting I dislike (well, except maybe the tantrums). I like combing the ChickieNob’s hair. (How much longer will she let me do it? I stopped having my mother do my hair by 12 because she couldn’t get the hairsprayed bangs quite right.) I like clipping their nails and making them costumes and reading them books. I like driving them around to activities. I like birthday parties and Purim carnivals and trick-or-treating. And I know that all of these things will run out, dry up. They will need me less and less as they age, or need me in a very different way. They will want to do these activities less and less as they age. How much longer do I have with birthday parties and Purim carnivals? A year or two? Maybe more? Maybe less? This could be the last one but I might not know it until it’s the last one.
We have a lot of ticking clocks in our life right now, and these intangible clocks tick very loudly. I think about time all the… time. We’re waiting for things to happen, waiting for things to be over. Dreading things coming up, dreading things to be over. Having a lot of clocks ticking at once makes it pretty damn loud in my head.
Sometimes I mistake the ticking sound from the mental clocks as bombs, and I cringe, waiting for the explosion until I remember that they’re just ordinary alarm clocks. Everyone has them in their life. No one gets unlimited, unfettered time. The ticking is not indicating an upcoming destruction of my life. The most important things in my life will still be here after those alarms go off and I need to wake up and start the next day of my life. Because the reality is that the bombs in life are mostly silent, and they don’t give you a warning tick before they explode, bastards that they are.
What we’re hearing right now is just the good, old-fashioned passing of time, marking what we are waiting for and what we are wistful to have come to an end.
So I’ll grab whatever last Purim carnivals and birthday parties I can before it’s too late and we leave this stage of life. The next stage will be interesting too, but it won’t be like this one. The celebrations will be more subdued, more grown-up, smaller, less chaotic and less colourful.
Maybe that is why I think so hard and work so hard to throw parties: because I am already mourning the end of them.