I am, give or take, about a decade and a half older than nearly all of Demon Baby's peers' moms. At a birthday party, like today, I sit with a smile plastered on my face, having nothing in common with women who still coo over every move their child makes and wax poetic over cute clothes and princess crap. I can't say that 19 years ago, when I had my first child, I was much different. Sure, I played Barbies with her, but most of the time I wanted to claw my eyes out as I dressed Ken and Barbie. I marveled over my daughter and spent most of my waking breaths with her . . . but I was different, I suppose. I was always this eccentric, outside-the-norm, writer-mom with a slightly hippie bent. I've only gotten worse in my old age, dragging my kids to protest rallies and the food bank, and lecturing them on making the world a better place.
When Demon Baby got a kazoo in his goody bag from said birthday party today, I rolled my eyes. Only a young mom not shuddering from kazoo blasts in her ear would give a Demon Baby such a thing. Young moms make homemade Play-do (I did that with Oldest, but not with any of the other three, and I sure as heck am not insane enough to give Demon Baby clay--Lord knows where it will end up . . . and assuredly it won't be pretty). Young moms have the energy to go to the park AND the pool AND make nutritional little sandwiches cut out to look like Mickey Mouse all in one day. I'm lucky if I can survive one of the above.
I'm an old mom. I color my hair every four weeks or so to hide the massive gray. My ass shows the effects of being a writer and sitting making up novels for a living for hours and hours each day. I drink coffee--and lots of it--to keep up with Demon Baby and I am DELIGHTED to the point of tears on the rare occasions he falls asleep early and I find him passed out on a carpet somewhere as it's about the only evening time I get with some quiet and what passes as peace around here, given I have three other kids. And did I mention how much LAUNDRY they all make?
I don't care if his outfits match. If he's wearing clothes, it can be striped pants and a plaid shirt for all I care--I know he's not going to keep it on long anyway. He goes EVERYWHERE commando. And I just don't care. I pick my battles.
All of which sounds terribly cynical. Heck . . . look at the name of this blog.
But it's not. I find moments of sheer joy so exhilarating I feel like my heart will burst out of my chest. When he is enthralled with a worm, or shrieking his delight over things as varied as a guitar solo by the Clash or a dead spider in the bathroom, he forces me into the moment with him, where the rest of the world falls away. He is like a lesson in Buddhism every single day. When he does this plethora of destruction on my house, my appliances, and even my lone pair of dress shoes, I am so uninterested in a perfect-from-the-outside life that I can marvel at his intelligence, his imagination, and his genius.
But most of all . . . he IS his emotions--whether shrieking in anger or laughing with delight or crying with frustration. He can curl in my lap and tell me I am beautiful. He can kiss me, but then wipe off my kiss when I return the favor. And I am aware--painfully so--that THIS is the stuff of life.
A friend of mine passed away this month. His memorial service is next Saturday. I have had four close friends struggle with breast cancer, two with lymphoma. I have buried people I love. I have watched my friends bury their parents. My own dad is now blind. I have struggled and suffered through one child's difficult adolescence and then watched her evolve into graceful adulthood. I have one in high school, and another in middle school. And Demon Baby. I am aware, in the way an old mom can only too poignantly be, that THIS is the stuff of dreams. These moments.
His childhood may not be marked by baby books, where each new tooth is dutifully recorded (gave that up by midway through toddlerhood of Child #2). I may not have quite as many pictures of him. I will most definitely NOT be baking cupcakes. But my life with him is marked by this outrageous desire to grab him fiercely and hold onto his wonderful Demon Baby stage for as long as it lasts, knowing that life can throw us a curveball at any minute. I;ve lived long enough to know that.
I don't care about the mud in my hair, on my pants, or, frankly, in my best shoes. I don't ask how it got there.
I just appreciate that he is who he is. And tired though I am, this is my chance to live, moment to moment, in the incredible life of an incredible child.