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Get me off this thing!

March 6, 2009 - Betsy Bethel
After my refreshing girls' weekend, the bottom kind of dropped out. Nothing welcomes you home like a child with an ear infection and pink eye; car troubles; losing your cell phone; coming down with a horrible sinus infection; and nearly missed work deadlines!

The good news is, Emma is feeling better and has been happy as a clam lately — I've noticed a marked difference in the number of meltdowns and temper tantrums — still too many, of course! But she seems a touch more patient — with herself, especially. Used to be, she would try to put her shoes on "all by myself" and before I could blink, she had launched the shoe across the room and was screaming "I CAN'T DO IT!" Now, she has a little more confidence, gives herself a little more time and is usually successful. And if not, she has no problem asking for help rather than throwing a fit.

Yes, Emma is maturing before my very eyes. Her vocabulary is astounding. She refers to herself in third person while she's playing and says things like, "And she scrambled away" as she gets up and runs into the next room.

She puts thoughts together that blow me away. As we were driving past a car impound lot the other day, she saw a wrecked car and said, "Wow! That car is CRACKED! I'm going to go home and be Bob (the Builder). I'll get my cap and get my belt on and my tools and FIX IT!" On the way to Grandma's this morning, she did not want to go. I said, "But Grandma takes care of you!" She pouted, "No, Mommy! GOD takes care of me, not GRANDMA!"

Yesterday, when I took her to day care, we visited the 3-year-old classroom, where she'll be moving on her birthday, next Thursday. She seemed right at home there. When I took her back down to her 2-year-old class, she seemed out of place. It was so weird! I know she's ready for the move, physically, mentally and socially. (She's been talking baby-talk lately, and I think she picked it up from her younger 2-year-old classmates! Her teacher confirmed my suspicion, and even said she thinks Emma's bored in the 2-year class.)

So, why was I so discombobulated all day yesterday? I had this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and a flighty nervousness that distracted me from work. It totally caught me off guard! I don't remember feeling this way before Emma's other birthdays. I went to my friend Phyllis to tell her how I was feeling, and she knowingly nodded and empathized. "Get used to it," she said and laughed. Her kids' first days at kindergarten about killed her. Even as they get older, she said, it doesn't stop. She said she remembers crying all the way down the hill after dropping Amanda off for her first day of high school at Park. And then it was her senior year, and then college, and then her first apartment ...

As proud as I am of Emma, as much as I see her growing and maturing and surpassing milestones, I can't help these not-so-warm-and-fuzzy feelings I'm having — this mixture of grief (yes, I'm in mourning for my baby who's getting so grown up!) and trepidation and anticipation and sadness and excitement.

I guess that's why they call parenthood the roller coaster ride of your life. A thrill a minute, eh? For the record, I prefer the triumphant moment just as you reach the crest of the hill and can see everything below with crystal-clear vision. I could do without the stomach-churning and head-popping pressure that occurs as you plunge to near-death at breakneck speed. Can't we just skip that part?


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