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I know I'm getting old....
I was a late in life parent. My first; a son, was born when I was 33 years old. I had tried for years, unsuccessfully to become pregnant and had resigned myself to the fact that even though I had wanted to be a mother, it probably wasn't going to happen. Then, about 8 months after I stopped trying, I found out I was going to give birth to a boy. My son was born, sick with jaundice; had to be hospitalized his 2nd week of life and after he came back home, was my main focus and the love of my life.
My second child; a daughter, was conceived after trying for another 2 years and finally breaking down and agreeing to take a pill daily to help me conceive. After a year of taking this pill, I gave up and miraculously, God gave me another miracle and she was born when I was 38 years old.
Most women are pushing their kids out of their home when they reach my birthing ages, instead of pushing a child out of the birth canal. I attended many graduation parties for the children of my friends the years my own children were born. I didn't mind; my children kept me feeling and looking young. It was because of them that I began to dye my hair at 40 as I didn't want to be mistaken for their grandmother. I kept active and became the Martha Stewart of birthday parties, inviting any child they knew for each party; complete with theme, party gifts for the attendees and homemade, fabulous cakes prepared by me the night before. Mothers marveled at the food I prepared, the decorations and the amount of money spent on each child that attended these functions. I didn't mind because I had a posse of moms that were there to support me and help me out with their tender little charges.
As my children progressed in age, parents then decided their children were old enough to attend parties alone. They would dart for the door and yell as they ran for their cars the time they would return. I became at times, the babysitter for the parent that couldn't be reached. I also realized that it had to have been the parents that ate all of the food at those parties in the past because the kids, it appeared, didn't really want to eat and they would disapear after pecking up an amount of food that couldn't keep a mouse alive to play and run around the house, screaming at high decibels and destroying my once sound nervous system.
Through the years, the parties have been given limits on the number of children to attend and I now have time limits for parents. Only one friend is permitted to spend the night; unlike past years when I had a sea of children sprawled across my living room in their sleeping bags. I feel old now. Instead of cooking gourmet dinners, I throw macaroni and cheese into a bowl and cook hot dogs for the kids. I often buy the birthday cakes from the grocer and "dress" them up with decorations that I have purchased. No more holiday parties except for Halloween now and even that has limits for my children.
I find now, where I used to love the sound of bustle and commotion in the house, I hide upstairs while the kids are in the family room downstairs screaming like a bunch of banchees doing hell knows what. I check with trepidation each time the little maniacs leave to see if anything has been broken or destroyed. I often find plates of food shoved under my couch or wrappers all over the floor as if the legs of the children were broken and couldn't walk the 2 feet to the wastebasket (a bright red basket for easy viewing). I try to keep the kids in one area so I have less to clean the next day. I always retire to bed, well before the night owls and give harsh warnings about not awaking me or eating me out of house and home as I slumber away. Who knows what the teenage boys do all night as the family room exudes a stench of body odor and pizza the next morning. The younger girls typically fall asleep with the television on and the smell of candy on their breath while the boys fall asleep in sitting positions, holding Wii remotes or game boy controls in their sticky clutches.
I do love that my children and their friends remember fondly the times they spend together in our home. Their pals always ask when they can come over again and when they will be able to spend the night. It makes me feel good to know they feel safe and enjoy themselves when they are here. I just don't understand my transformation from Martha Stewart to Mrs. Cravitz. I have become a person nearing 50 who can't stand loud music, blasting TV's, screaming children and constant commotion. It seems I am always asking someone to talk with a quieter voice, turn the TV down, turn the computer off and stop laying around. I think I've forgotten what it was like to be a kid. No wonder my parents were often so cranky! They were my age and were raising a household of kids, not just two and we always had friends over too!
For the sake of my children, I will try to be more hip and understand their needs. I will continue to hide myself for fear of yelling at them for being young, fun-loving and adventurous. I will buy them pizza for their guests, mumble for only 5 minutes as they help me clean up the toxic waste left behind the next morning and tell them each day that I love them. I will try to keep from aging and realize that my life is not theirs. I am an old, single parent who loves her children more than life itself. Even if their energy drives me nuts sometimes, I will thank God that I can still be driven! Aging doesn't have to mean that I become that crotchety, old woman that spooks everyone on the block. My life, as an older parent simply means that as my children age, so do I, but I can still love life on my terms as well as theirs.